School of Society and Culture

MA History

Explore a range of subjects within British, European and world history, from the 15th century to the present day. Benefit from the History team's specialist knowledge and links across the global historical community and develop a deep and systematic understanding of historical research to excel in further studies, or begin your career with confidence thanks to the professional experience opportunities offered.

Careers with this subject

Graduate destinations for our recent MA students include funded PhDs, PGCE teacher training, NHS graduate management training, public sector heritage business management, and account executive with an image library. Postgraduate study opens up many other careers in museums, heritage, archives and records.

Key features

  • Designed for a range of applicants, including recent graduates, teachers looking to enhance professional qualifications, and those in the local community with a passion for history.
  • Join a community of student-historians from a variety of backgrounds with a programme designed to appeal to a range of audiences, including recent graduates, teachers looking to enhance their professional qualifications and those in the local community with a long-standing passion for history.
  • Explore history through a variety of means – with a combination of taught and self-led learning, regular research seminars and access to The Arts Institute history lecture series featuring world-leading academics.
  • Work alongside internationally recognised researchers and experienced professionals as you develop the skills that will allow you to choose how you progress upon graduation: take your studies further with a PhD, or enter the workplace with the confidence and skills to fast-track your career.
  • Plot your own course through the centuries as you take the lead in your masters dissertation research project, and choose areas of study from the history team’s range of research specialisms.
  • Explore history with your friends and colleagues by joining the History Society, a lively and supportive community hosting educational and social events.
  • Discover the most up-to-date ways of studying history through our online resources including a vast eBook library and digital archives. Build links with local record offices and archives, accessing opportunities to develop your expertise in the local and regional history of Plymouth and the South West.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • You can study MA History full time over one year or part time split across two years. 
    Your studies consist of four modules, two of which are core: Key debates and research methods in history – an assessment of current trends and methodologies in the discipline of history, and public history – an examination of the theory and practice of how the past is presented to public audiences. 
    You supplement these with two option modules, where you select the areas of history that interest you the most as you choose from the research specialisms of the History team.* 
    The team's areas of expertise include: early modern European and British history including religious and military history; imperialism, colonialism and de-colonisation in the modern period; the political, cultural and social history of 19th-century Britain; Ireland since 1900; British military and diplomatic history during the 20th century; European integration; politics and society in the USA since 1900; and modern Japan.
    The programme culminates in an independently researched MA History dissertation. 

    Core modules

    • Key Debates and Research Methods in History (MAHI700)

      This module will provide students both with an understanding of current debates about approaches, theories and methodologies in History and a grounding in research skills such as locating and using primary source material and making effective use of library and database resources.

    • Public History (MAHI701)

      This work-facing module examines the theory and practice of how the past is presented to public audiences. Students will explore, through site-based case studies and written projects, the creation, nature, use and understanding of various forms of public history, for example those associated with heritage and museums, oral history, film and 'popular' historical writing.

    • MA History Dissertation (MAHI702)

      In this module students complete a dissertation on an aspect of history of their own choosing. The topic is negotiated between students and teaching staff, who provide tutorial support and advice about all aspects of the project from initiation to completion.

    Optional modules

    • Piracy and Privateering, 1560-1816 (MAHI704)

      This module explores piracy and privateering activity in the seas around the British Isles and further afield from the reign of Queen Elizabeth to the end of the second Barbary War in 1816. This course focuses on the social history of piracy and privateering, the organisation of pirate society, and the economic impact of piracy and privateering.

    • The Civil Rights Movement (MAHI706)

      Examining the African American struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s.

    • The French Wars of Religion 1558-1598 (MAHI709)

      The module will examine the causes, progress and termination of the French Wars of Religion after 1558. The main topics will be the relationships between Catholic and Protestant, the impact of war on royal authority, the experiences of confessional groups, towns, nobles and peasants, and the resolution of conflict under Henri IV.

    • The Irish Revolution 1912-37 (MAHI710)

      This module examines the political, social and cultural history of Ireland during the period 1912-1937 with particular focus on causes and effects of partition and the nature what is known as the Irish revolution.

    • America and the United Nations 1945 to the present (MAHI716)

      This module provides a detailed examination of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Nations in the management of international relations from 1945 to the present.

    • Independent Research Project in History (MAHI718)

      A research project leading to an essay (8000 words), devised with tutorial supervision, in a field not offered in the History module options, or where the student has previously studied the topic within a module at BA level 6 and is consequently not permitted to take the MA option version (also, in exceptional circumstances where the module option timetable means that a student is unable to choose an option).

    • Key Debates in Modern Japanese History (MAHI723)

      This module is an introduction to the major themes of political, social and economic development in Japan in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

    • Filth and the Victorians (MAHI726)

      In this module students study the Victorian era from the perspective of environment, public hygiene, cultural values of cleanliness and fear of physical, moral and other forms of contamination. Drawing on urban histories, histories of medicine and science, the module also uses a range of literary and artistic sources.

    • Anglo-American Relations in Maritime Perspective (MAHI727)

      This module introduces Masters students to the major themes of the history of British and American maritime strategy, naval competition, and international co-operation between 1775 and 1991. It challenges students to rethink the so-called ‘special relationship’ through a maritime lens, while providing an exploration of naval history and international relations since the beginning of the American Revolution.

    • Maritime Explorations and Encounters (MAHI728)

      This module challenges students to rethink their ideas about the use of navies in exploration, leading explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, Captain James Cook and Charles Darwin, the place of Plymouth in maritime exploration and the nature of encounters with native peoples.

    • International Relations in the Middle East: A Critical Approach (IRL716)

      This module introduces the students to the study of International Relations in the Middle East. It does this by examining processes such as uprisings and revolutions, and concepts such as democracy and authoritarianism. The module’s approach encourages students to think about the relationship between domestic and international politics and the importance of historical context. Crucially, these concepts, processes, and approaches are valid in 21st century politics beyond the Middle East.

    • Inter-War Britain 1919-40 (MAHI733)

      The module examines Britain in the period 1919-40 with an emphasis on Government and politics. The social, economic and foreign challenges facing Britain are examined for their ability to impact on policy and politics.

    • Natural Knowledge and Narrative Knowing: Literatures of nature in North America (MAEL713)

      With a chronology from the colonial period to the twentieth century, this module examines the environmental literatures of North America, acknowledging the contexts and legacies of settler colonialism. By engaging with a diverse ranges of prose texts – eg. natural histories, the periodical press, novels, travel narratives – this module will analyse competing systems of knowledge production, western and indigenous, through a variety of literary forms.

    • Sea Power in History (MAHI729)

      This module examines the major concepts and themes of Sea Power. Exploring the role of sea power in war and peace from the ancient world to the 20th century, it challenges students to rethink ideas about the use of navies, the wider meaning of sea power, its place in politics and society, and ultimately to move beyond the primacy of battle in conventional narratives of the course of naval history.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA History programme specification 4479

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

An honours degree in history or a related subject, or a professional qualification recognised as being equivalent to a degree. 
Or an ordinary degree, foundation degree, higher national diploma, or university diploma, accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field. References from previous university, employer or similar
If you possess overseas qualifications you can check their comparability with Ecctis, who provide an advisory service.
International students: IELTS score of 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element). English language requirements . We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary. 

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,250 £9,700
International £16,500 £17,600
Part time (Home) £510 £540
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.
The MA comprises 180 credits.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

You may now be eligible for a government loan of over £11,000 to help towards the cost of your masters degree.

Tuition fee discount for University of Plymouth graduates

If you studied your undergraduate degree at Plymouth, you may be eligible for a fee discount if you complete your postgraduate studies here as well.
  • 10% or 20% discount on tuition fees for home students 
  • For 2024/2025 entry, a 20% discount on tuition fees for international students (International alumni who have applied to the University through an agent are not eligible to receive the discount)

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

How to apply

When to apply
Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full.
Before you apply
Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance. 
Disability Inclusion Services
If you have an impairment, health condition or disability, learn about the additional support the University provides.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information or email
Submitting an application
Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page). 
What happens after I apply?
You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeksof us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.
We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. 
If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:
Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Admissions policy
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

MA History

For historians, books are a window into the minds of their readers. We can see the ideas that they were introduced to and sometimes their responses to them, good and bad.
Dr Rebecca Emmett takes this further, looking at the the people who brought books to life – from printers and publishers to booksellers and binders.
James Bartle

Graduate perspectives

"As well as offering a flexible learning structure, the MA provided me with the opportunity to study subjects that I was interested in. I learnt about the origins of the civil rights movement and the role of lesser-known activists such as Ella Baker. I was also given the confidence to develop my own ideas. Through the encouragement of my tutor Dr Harry Bennett, I was able to turn a research trip to The National Archives into a dissertation about Devonport Dockyard in World War Two."
James Bartle, MA History

On campus with MA History

You can study MA History either full time or part time. While much of your study and research is self-led, there’ll still be many opportunities to work closely with the history team, attending lectures and seminars on campus.
On campus with MA History
Japan 400. Homecoming of the Clove, Plymouth Sound
Homecoming of the Clove to Plymouth for Japan400
"Completing an MA History has been the most positive and rewarding experience. Having achieved my undergraduate degree in History there, the MA course allowed me to deepen and expand my knowledge through a variety of modules and a dissertation. The support and guidance from the lecturers were second to none. I was able to take modules in maritime exploration, modern German history and public history to name a few. All the modules offered me the opportunity to progress in my written work and gain confidence in verbal communication and expression of ideas to an audience through presentations. What the History department at Plymouth do particularly well is emphasise the utilisation of our skills in the wider world to ensure we are employable. They encouraged us with internships to build on the skills we were learning and place them in a professional setting. I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of the History department at Plymouth."
Amy Stokes, MA History

History news: digital work from MA History students

History resources

Research students have access to a host of eResources for undertaking primary research, in addition to our large and growing collection of secondary sources on the Library’s open shelves, as eBooks and eJournals, and the diverse historical material in our Rare Books collection.
The databases are extensive but include JISC Historical Texts, covering Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online and Nineteenth Century Books; key newspaper sources from the Burney Newspapers collection, 19th century British Library Newspapers, Times Digital Archive to contemporary history source such as Nexis. Periodicals collections include 19th Century UK Periodicals Online, and Vogue Archive. Our specialist databases range from Victorian Popular Culture (covering such topics as spiritualism and music hall) to modern history through Mass Observation Online, while wider perspectives can be found in India, Raj and Empire, and The Grand Tour. A rich array of audio-visual sources is also available.
Peninsula Arts: Medieval Manuscripts and the Making
Medieval Manuscripts and the Making


The School of Society and Culture is home to around 40 researchers working across a number of disciplines: history, art history, anthropology, English, creative writing, music, computer music, theatre and performance. 
Pile of old books lying on a park bench
Chinese junks shelled by British warship at sea during the First Opium War.
'Destroying Chinese war junks' (1843), Edward Duncan
"The MA History at Plymouth was a fantastic and valuable experience for me, supplementing and enhancing what I learned through my BA and equipping me with the skills required to feel confident in taking on a PhD project. The course was well balanced between developing us as historians and giving us the facilities and opportunities to pursue other topics. I worked with a lot of 18th and 19th century maritime history and also studied the history of modern Japan. Together, these set me up well for my doctoral research, which will be grounded in 19th century maritime history in China and East Asia. All of my tutors were passionate about their topics and often very involved with our learning, always quick to help in person and virtually when needed, and genuinely interested and involved in our work. My experience during the MA was hugely positive thanks to the fantastic history staff, great library facilities and lovely city."
Corey Watson, MA History

The Box: Plymouth's heritage hub

Postgraduate history students will be able to benefit from the flagship heritage centre in Plymouth, called The Box. This brings together the Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, South West Film and Television Archive and South West Image Bank, in one exciting heritage hub.
The Box - image courtesy of Plymouth City Council
The Box - image courtesy of Plymouth City Council

What’s next?

A history masters will provide you with a range of options upon graduation – whether you’re looking to continue your studies or begin your career, you’ll be equipped with the analytical skills and knowledge to excel.
'What's next?' with MA History

Meet the Programme Leader: Dr James R. Gregory

"I've often been drawn to more marginal figures. More recently I've been trying to understand – in exploring 'integrity' and 'mercy' – virtues or qualities which most people would have endorsed, but have often had varied political uses."
Programme Lead Dr James R. Gregory