Course overview

Are you fascinated by history? Do you want to understand more about the way people lived, worked and thought in the past? Our expert staff will support you to explore those very questions, whilst developing your own historical research into an area of your choice.

You can tailor your studies through optional modules spanning the 7th century BCE to the modern day, and covering a wide geographical range including Britain, India, Japan, Portugal, and the USA.

The key themes which we will explore include:

  • Identity formation and difference
  • Nationalism, nostalgia and memory
  • Authoritarianism and power
  • Everyday life, religion and culture

You are encouraged to engage with different theories and approaches for studying the past, so that you can develop your own methodology. A specially-tailored core module will develop your research skills, including hands-on sessions with archival material, and determine the theoretical and methodological approaches that best match your chosen dissertation topic.

Why choose this course?

98% of our research

was considered 'internationally important'

(REF 2014)

Research skills

Study a specially-tailored module to develop your research skills

Top 20 UK university

Ranked 103 in the world and 18 in the UK 

QS World University rankings 2022

Course content

The total credits for this course are 180.

Part time students will typically take three modules each academic year, spread across the year.

We recommend that you take the 20-credit 'Research Methods' module in the Autumn, and two 20-credit options in the Spring in the first year, and then the 40-credit module in the Autumn and one 20-credit option in the Spring in the second year. However, other combinations are possible.

The dissertation will take place over the final summer of your studies.

All classes take place during weekdays.


You will take the following two 20 credit modules or the 40-credit year-long versions of Research Methods in History. 

Research Methods in History

This module teaches you how to construct theoretically-informed arguments and to engage critically with primary material.

You will gain the skills needed for advanced historical research, both in methodology and conceptual approaches. These include:

  • bibliographical searching
  • locating primary sources
  • using archives
  • writing research proposals

We will also consider how historians engage with more theoretical and conceptual texts, and how they borrow from other disciplines. This includes exploring a wide range of sub-disciplines, approaches and individual thinkers.

This module is worth either 20 credits (Autumn semester) or 40 credits (full academic year).

Arts in Society

We will help you to apply your arts MA across society to enhance your career and contribute to wider society.

We'll demonstrate how the arts can be used to:

  • transform society, politics and culture
  • enhance the careers of arts and humanities MA students.

You'll be able to explore, explain and then detail how your disciplinary skills can impact upon wider issues to emphasise the applicability of the arts and humanities. From the role of the scholar activist to understanding ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘public engagement’, you'll develop professional skills in preparation for a career within academia or across a range of sectors.

You will:

  • harness the ways in which the arts and humanities enable us to think differently and to innovate
  • work on issues of research, networking, grant-writing and cultural exchange
  • learn how to engage, communicate and create.

This module is worth 20 credits.


Optional modules

Autumn semester

Choose one from the following group.

Conflict and Coexistence in Early Modern Europe

We use the theme of conflict and coexistence to examine topics across a wide European geography and early modern chronology.

By studying comparative frameworks (i.e. England and France), case studies (i.e. The Thirty Years’ War), and broader international environments, you will encounter conflict in multiple forms. This includes:

  • political
  • religious
  • military
  • ideological
  • mercantile
  • public

The avoidance of conflict and coexistence are also central to this module. Peoples and governments of the period often looked to peaceful resolutions and solidarity at the same time as they sharpened their wits (and swords) for polemical (and political) combat.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Past Futures: Reimagining the Twentieth Century

Explore the social, cultural and political history of the twentieth century. 

Rather than re-telling familiar narratives that take high politics as their starting-point, we instead scrutinise these by drawing upon the themes of temporality and memory. 

As well as exploring the different conception of temporality that informed social and political thought, we will also engage with the ideas of progress and decline that were advanced to conceptualise certain events and phenomena. 

Four inter-related themes will be explored: 

  • Temporality and change
  • Social change and memory
  • The politics of reproduction
  • Consumption, mobility and time 

This module is worth 40 credits.

Power, Authority and Dissent: Sources for Medieval History

Discover a broad range of skills required for researching the Middle Ages.

We explore an exciting, eclectic range of different periods, topics and approaches relating to the themes of power, authority and dissent in the Middle Ages. This will help you to build your knowledge of the period and its history.

Examples (subject to availability of tutors) include:

  • Early medieval Italian charters
  • The writings of Bede
  • Medieval Jewish women
  • Twelfth-century Ireland
  • Apocalyptic thought in southern France
  • Medieval heresy trial records
  • The Rise of the Mongols
  • The deposition of Edward II
  • Sources for English peasant society

You will also learn how to interpret a range of sources in translation, considering how historians interpret the often problematic sources available to them, and the processes which lay behind their interpretations.

This module is team-taught, meaning you will benefit from the research expertise of the large number of medievalists within the department.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Spring semester

You will usually choose two modules from this group.

We offer the flexibility to replace one module with one from outside the Department of History if that suits your interests more.

Memory and Social Change in Modern Europe and Beyond

Build your understanding of various conceptual approaches to studying modern history.

Following a chronological approach, we will use specific case studies as prisms for interrogating common themes, including memory, identity, and social change.

You will explore the construction and representation of national, political, local and ethnic identities which are borne out of (and continue to shape) social change. These collective identities will be analysed in terms of memory and commemoration, considering how the recent past is remembered and memorialised.

By the end of the module, you will understand how the past has contributed to the construction of contemporary identities in Europe and beyond.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Exploring English Identity

Recent debates surrounding Brexit and its aftermath have refocused attention on what it means to be English. But what exactly is ‘Englishness’ and how should we understand it historically?

This module explores questions including:

  • What has it meant to feel or be English?
  • What has been the relationship of this to ‘Britishness’ and how has that dual relationship played out in practice?
  • Is English identity fundamentally rooted in empire and its legacies? If so, how?
  • Could English nationalism be a positive, progressive force, or must it be divisive and backward-looking?
  • Where historically has Englishness been located? Is it in a language? A monarchy? In a set of ideas? A territory? A set of preferences, or tastes?

Recent historians have been conscious of English identity not as a stable phenomenon ready to be described, but as a historical construct subject to regular change, revision and contestation.

During this module, you will consider ‘English identity’ as a historical phenomenon, exploring the creation of an assumed English national identity that has both developed over time and been imposed retrospectively on an idea of the past.

This module is worth 20 credits.

(Mis)Perceptions of the Other: From Savages and Barbarians to the Exotic and Erotic

Investigate how western Europeans constructed and categorised peoples as 'other'. We explore this in a wide range of eras and places, potentially including:

  • Views on the Jewish and Islamic faiths in the medieval period
  • Notions of Russians between the 16th and 20th centuries
  • Representations of different genders across the British Empire, particularly in India
  • Views of various societies in the 19th and 20th-century, including China and Japan

These 'others' were variously constructed as savages, barbarians, or exotic, and were often sexualised or eroticised. Even when the 'other' was perceived as fabulous, those constructions usually had negative connotations, often being used to justify the actions towards them of those doing the 'othering'.

We will cover the below key themes:

  • conceptualisation and construction of the 'other'
  • using the other to justify actions
  • civilisation vs barbarism
  • decadence vs progress
  • East vs West
  • Christianity vs paganism

This module is worth 20 credits.

Daily Life in Authoritarian Régimes in the Long Twentieth Century

This module explores how living under authoritarian régimes affected the daily lives of populations.

We will focus on:

  • late Tsarist Russia/USSR
  • Nazi Germany and the GDR
  • Fascist Italy
  • Franco’s Spain
  • Communist China

Depending on staff availability, we may also look at Salazar’s Portugal, Vichy France, the states of the Warsaw Pact beyond Germany and the USSR, Putin’s Russia, North Korea, Marcos’s rule of the Philippines, military rule in Myanmar, the military dictatorship in Brazil, Castro’s Cuba, Pinochet’s Chile, Péron’s Argentina, and even the USA during McCarthyism, South Africa under Apartheid, and various incarnations of twentieth-century imperial rule.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Latin For Medievalists

This module gives an overview of Latin grammar and vocabulary.

We will pay special attention to the forms of the language used in different types of medieval documentary text, including legal terms and ways of expressing dates and sums of money.

In each class, you will read sentences from real Latin documents. You may also bring along examples of texts that you are reading for other modules, for guidance on interpretation and translation. No previous study of Latin is required.

This module is worth 20 credits


This module teaches the essential skill of palaeography, which is required for medieval historical research.

It is designed to be taken alongside the introductory ‘Latin for Medievalists’ module, which introduces the kinds of Latin used in medieval documents. This will be supplemented in the manuscripts module by studying typical medieval documents available in an edited format.

The ability to read early manuscripts is a fundamental skill for all those interested in researching the medieval period. On this module, we will:

  • Introduce you to the various types of handwriting used in medieval documents
  • Allow you to begin to read these documents in their unedited, manuscript forms
  • Encourage you to think about issues relating to codicology, illumination and transmission

This module is worth 20 credits.


History Dissertation

During the summer, you will complete a 60-credit dissertation (12-15,000 words) based on primary sources and supervised by a member of staff with expertise in your chosen field.

You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 17 January 2022.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Group study

How you will be assessed

  • Examinations
  • Presentation
  • Essay
  • Dissertation

Most modules are assessed by written work of varying lengths, corresponding with the content and weighting of the module.

Your course tutors provide detailed comments on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 12-15,000 word dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research.

Contact time and study hours

You will typically have six hours of face-to-face timetabled contact a week. Your tutors will also be available during office hours to discuss your work, address any issues, and help you develop your understanding.

Our seminar groups are typically small, which encourages discussion and debate in a friendly and supportive environment.

Study hours

One credit is approximately 10 hours of student work, so a 20-credit module will be around 200 hours of work. On average, you will spend around 10 to 12 hours per module per week on independent study.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 in history or a related subject


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MA
Home / UK 9,250 per year
International 21,000 per year

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs


You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).


Routes into Masters Scholarships

Aimed at UK-based students intending to progress on to PhD research. The Scholarships cover:

Apply for a Routes into Masters Scholarship

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

During this course you will develop skills in data analysis, presentation, communication, teamwork, negotiation, and time management.

As a result, our graduates have built careers in a diverse range of industries, including:

  • planning and policy
  • law
  • communications, media and journalism
  • archives and museums
  • teaching
  • libraries and museums

You will also have the necessary skills to begin doctoral research and work towards a PhD, if desired.

Visit our careers webpage.

Career progression

78.4 % of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £23,045*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" Historical research is not just about uncovering past lives, it offers a different perspective on the present. At Nottingham, you will work with historians who are passionate about history as a way of understanding the challenges in the world we live in today. "
Dr Onni Gust, Assistant Professor of History

Related courses

This content was last updated on Monday 17 January 2022. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.