Postgraduate study
This MA allows you to take your studies and passion for history to the next level.



This MA will help you develop the sophisticated analytical skills to understand the past, while permitting you to specialise in either a particular period or to explore a variety of different chronological spans. It is designed to encourage a broad engagement with historiography research skills, and primary sources.

During the course, you will build on your enthusiasm for History developed during your undergraduate degree, taking you to a higher level of understanding and comprehension. A specially-tailored core Research Methods module gives you the chance to develop research skills through hands-on sessions in the archives and to determine the theoretical and methodological approaches that best match your chosen dissertation topic. The dissertation itself – taking advantage of expert supervision within the department – allows students to immerse themselves in primary sources and sophisticated debates. 

In your first semester, alongside Research Methods, you will choose from broad team-taught modules, permitting you to see different experts’ perspectives on a carefully chosen menu of topics, covering a wide chronological and geographical range. These draw on the research expertise of the department in which 98% of all published material in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 assessment was considered internationally recognised.

Our small group sizes encourage discussion and debate in a friendly and supportive environment, and give you the chance to address topics in a more critical and in-depth fashion than is often possible at undergraduate level. You also have the opportunity to study modules offered in a wide-range of cognate disciplines, as well as developing specific skills (including languages and paleography). 

Key Facts

  • Ranked 16 out of 96 UK history departments in the Complete University Guide 2018
  • The department has a thriving research community which includes both staff and research students, and will offer you many opportunities to develop your skills and widen your intellectual horizons
  • We have a wealth of manuscripts and special collections which have won recognition for their national and international importance
  • In the 2016 postgraduate taught experience survey, 100% of respondents in the School of Humanities said, “The course is intellectually stimulating” and “The course has enhanced my academic ability”

Full course details

The degree contains three elements and is completed over one year full-time or two years part-time.

First semester

You take one of three 40-credit options designed to appeal to students with interests in medieval history, early modern European history, modern and modern global history.

In addition you will follow the compulsory 20-credit Research Methods option. 

Second semester

You must choose two 20-credit modules (see indicative examples in the module list below) from the History menu, although you may elect to take 20 credits from approved modules in related disciplines, in consultation with the Director of Postgraduate Taught Courses.

In addition you will take the 20-credit Arts in Society module.


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



First semester 


Research Methods

Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts

The module's primary goal is to engender both confidence in dealing with original research, and a recognition of the huge range of approaches that can be used to address research questions.

This module builds on the research skills that students will have already developed during their undergraduate degrees and on discipline-specific MA modules. The emphasis is on:

  • ensuring students are possessed of a whole range of practical ways to approach research
  • making students think about the nature of their discipline-specific approaches within a context of growing interdisciplinarity.

Students will have the chance to consider topics as varied as academic publishing, digital transformations, and the use of illustrations in dissertations. They will also have the opportunity to hear academics from across the Faculty talk about the problems they have confronted and how they overcame them. 



Choose one 40 credit module from:

Power and Authority in the Medieval World

40 credits

As its title suggests, this module addresses questions of who wielded power and to what ends during the middle ages.

  • How was this power resisted?

  • To what extent was it based on economic strength, on force, or on religious belief?

  • How can we unpick its nature from using primary sources and how this has been debated within the historiography?

The content of the module changes from year to year to reflect the specialisms of the teaching staff, but ranges across topics that might vary from the ‘feudal revolution’ to medieval court cases, from the English peasants’ revolt to heresy trials, from the propaganda of English kings to Byzantine iconoclasm, from manorial court rolls to the work of chroniclers, from the Pope and the inquisition to royal taxation.

At the centre of this work is a detailed focus on engaging with medieval primary sources.


Conflict and Coexistence in Early Modern Europe

40 credits

This module uses the theme of conflict and coexistence to examine a range of topics across a wide European geography and early modern chronology.

By studying comparative frameworks (e.g. England and France), case studies (e.g. the Thirty Years’ War), and broader international environments, students will encounter conflict in multiple forms – political, religious, military, ideological, mercantile, and public.

The avoidance of conflict and coexistence are also central to this module, for 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. 


Past Futures: Reminagining the Long Twentieth Century

40 credits

This module will 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, it will bring these narratives under scrutiny by drawing upon the themes of temporality and memory. As well as exploring the different conceptions of temporality that informed social and political thought, it 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:

  1. Temporality and change
  2. Social change 
  3. Race, culture and memory
  4. Consumption, mobility and time

Each theme will encompass a two-week ‘block’ of seminars that are organised thematically rather than chronologically. Contributing staff will make reference to a wide range of geographical contexts. Typically, students will engage with case studies that relate to the following:

  • Britain
  • France
  • United States
  • Africa
  • Eastern Europe

Second semester


Arts in Society

Arts in Society

The aim of the module is to prepare students for applying their arts MA across society to enhance their careers and to contribute to wider society.

It will demonstrate how the arts can be used to:

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

Students will be able to explore, explain and then detail how their 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’, the module will support the development of professional skills in preparation for careers within academia or across a range of employment sectors. Students will harness the ways in which the arts and humanities enable us to think differently and to innovate. As such, students will be able to work on issues of research, networking, grant-writing and cultural exchange. Students will also learn how to engage, communicate and create.



Choose two 20-credit modules from the History menu, (see indicative examples in the module list below) although you may elect to take 20 credits from approved modules in related disciplines.

Exploring English Identity

20 credits

Recently historians have been conscious of English identity not as a stable phenomenon that needs to be described, but rather as an artificial historical construct, ambiguous, hotly debated and subject to regular change and revision. This module examines the ways in which that identity has been constructed in different periods, while keeping an eye on how, in the present day, those periods themselves have been used to create an ‘historic’ sense of English identity.

Among the themes to be considered will be the relationship between Britishness and Englishness, and the ways in which the promotion of identity has depended upon ideas of inclusion and exclusion.

Themes for analysis which transcend seminars include consideration of race, religion, culture and politics in the making and representation of English national identities.


Heresy and Religious Dissent in the Middle Ages
20 credits

Through close analysis of original documents from the medieval period, this module engages students in discussion of the nature of correct and incorrect religious belief in the Middle Ages (c.600-c.1500), as well as with the responses to it by churchmen and secular rulers.

It is convened by the staff of the Medieval Heresy and Dissent Research Network, and students will be taught by heresy scholars who are leaders in their field.


Memory and Social Change in Modern Europe

20 credits

This module is designed to enhance understanding of various conceptual approaches to the study of modern history.

Chronological in its treatment of different themes, it uses specific case studies as prisms for the examination of common themes, notably memory, identity, and social change. A transnational perspective will be employed to explore the construction and representation of national, political, local, and ethnic identities, which are born out of (and continue to shape) social change. In addition, these collective identities will be analysed in terms of memory and commemoration, considering how the recent past is remembered and memorialised.

In so doing the module will introduce students to many of the key debates within the literature and will engage with a range of primary and secondary source material.

By the end of the module, students will have acquired a sound understanding of how the past has contributed to the construction of contemporary identities in Europe and beyond.


Latin for Medievalists

20 credits

This module provides a structured introductory overview of Latin grammar and vocabulary, with special attention to the forms of the language used in different types of medieval documentary text. By studying sentences taken from real Latin texts, students become familiar with common formulaic phrases, gain experience in extracting key information from documents, and learn a range of technical terms (both Latin and English) in such areas as medieval law, currency, land-measurement and dating conventions. This will help medievalists to better understand and analyse their primary sources for their core and options in medieval history, and especially of course, help to prepare them for their dissertations.



Daily life in authoritarian régimes in the long twentieth century

20 credits

This module looks at how living under authoritarian régimes affected the daily lives of the populations that lived under them. The focus of the module will vary from year to year, but case studies will normally include late Tsarist Russia/USSR; Nazi Germany and the GDR; Fascist Italy and Franco’s Spain; Communist China. It may also include (depending on staff availability and student interest) 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. Themes that may be covered range from definitions and practices of authoritarian rule to attitudes to the family life and childhood, practices in education and the use of culture to the role of the police and censorship, to the uses and abuses of culture through to practices in the workplace. It may also consider topics such as gender and sexuality, religious belief, and the impact of war. The module will give students the chance to explore individual regimes and to focus on particular themes in a comparative fashion.



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

20 credits

This module will investigate the various ways in which western Europeans and Americans have constructed and categorised peoples as the other in a wide range of eras and places. This will include some or all of:

  • views on the Jewish and Islamic faiths in the early-medieval period
  • notions of Russians between the 16th and 18th centuries
  • constructions of Amerindians and Africans in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • views of various societies in the 19th and 20th including China and Japan

These others were variously constructed as savages, barbarians, exotic, and were often sexualised or eroticised. Even when the other was perceived as fabulous those constructions usually (though not always), had negative connotations and were often used to justify the actions towards them of those doing the othering.

Key themes will be:

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



Empires and Imperialisms: From the Age of Exploration to Decolonisation

20 credits

The course aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the wide-reaching effects of imperial encounters. It will examine the rise and expansion of the British Empire through a series of case studies goes through a series of case studies possibly including: Africa, India, Japan, West Indies, the Middle East and America. This module will actively apply some of the colonial and postcolonial theories that have been used to interpret events. At the end of the module, students will be able to draw out similarities and differences in the operation of imperialism across different time periods and geographic regions. Students are particularly encouraged to explore the variety of ways in which historians interpret the, often problematic, sources available to them and the processes which lay behind their interpretations.


MA Dissertation in History
60 credits

The dissertation is the single most important element of your MA and constitutes 60 credits of your total 180 credits.

The dissertation enables you to produce a sustained piece of research (12,000 to 15,000 words) on a topic of your own choice. Provided that we think it is feasible and there is someone in the department who can supervise it, you really can work on almost any historical topic.

Through the dissertation you can produce a piece of genuinely original research based on primary sources, and located within the context of existing historiography. The wide variety of interests within the department from gender history to international relations, from the history of ecology to the history of photography, from history of medicine to history of religion, from commerce to war, means that there is plenty of scope for you to pursue your own enthusiasms. 


The above is a sample of the typical modules that 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and even support from a trust or a charity.

We recognise that access to funding is often a crucial factor in a potential students decision to pursue postgraduate programmes, and in choosing the right place to study.

Funding is available to UK/EU candidates on a competitive basis in the form of the Tranfield Scholarship and the Pauline Roberts Scholarship.

Fee waivers are available for students from EU countries. Funds and scholarships are also amiable for part-time students. For more information, please contact the Department or visit the departmental funding opportunities web page.

Please also see more information about the University student funding

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.


Careers and professional development

One of the principal functions of the MA is to provide students with the requisite historical skills to undertake a doctoral (PhD) research in History, and is therefore an essential step towards an academic career. However, MA History is valued within careers in education at all levels.

MA History graduates also pursue careers in a range of other areas. During your degree, alongside your academic knowledge, you will develop many transferable skills that are attractive to employers, such as data analysis, presentation, communication, independence, teamwork, negotiation, and time management. 

Nowadays, history postgraduates can be found pursuing careers in areas such as planning and policy, law, communications, media, journalism, publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, management, archives and museums, teaching, the armed forces and police, libraries and museums.

The University of Nottingham Careers and Employability Service offers a wide range of careers related activities and provide information about many major graduate employers. Students are strongly advised to participate in their activities and attend employers talks and training sessions offered.

Average starting salary and career progression

According to independent research, Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britains leading graduate employers* and over 2,000 employers approach the University every year with a view to recruiting our students. Consequently and owing to our reputation for excellence more than 94% of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts enter employment, voluntary work or further study during the first six months after graduation**.

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

** Data is taken from known destinations of the 2013/14 leaving cohort of Nottingham home/EU postgraduates who studied full-time.

Average starting salary and career progression

According to independent research, Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and over 2,000 employers approach the University every year with a view to recruiting our students. 

In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.** 

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.  
** Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Career prospects and employability 

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice about how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.


Related courses and downloads


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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