School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MA History

Gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of historical methodology as you 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 the 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.

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Key features

  • 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 run by University of Plymouth's Centre for Research in Humanities and Performing Arts, 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. 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.

* In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, 85% of History’s research outputs (primarily books and journal articles) were considered to be internationally recognised in terms of significance, originality and rigour.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • You can study MA History full time over one year, or part time split across two years. Your studies will consist of four modules, two of which are core modules: key debates and research methods in history - an assessment of current trends and methodologies in the discipline of history, and the public history module - an examination of the theory and practice of how the past is presented to public audiences. You’ll supplement these with two option modules, where you select the areas of history that interest you the most as you select from the research specialisms of history team. The group’s areas of expertise include: imperialism, colonialism and de-colonisation in the modern period; the political 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; amongst others. The programme culminates in an independently researched MA History dissertation.
    Core modules
    • MAHI700 Key Debates and Research Methods in History

      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.

    • MAHI701 Public History

      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.

    • MAHI702 MA History Dissertation

      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
    • MAHI704 Piracy and Privateering, 1560-1816

      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.

    • MAHI705 The African American Experience

      This module examines the experience of African Americans from Emancipation at the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement at the end of World War II.

    • MAHI706 The Civil Rights Movement

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

    • MAHI709 The French Wars of Religion 1558-1598

      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.

    • MAHI710 The Irish Revolution 1912-37

      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¿.

    • MAHI712 Empire of Law. Ruling the British Empire 1760-1960

      The module introduces the methodology of using law as a window to political and social history. It will deal with legal governance in the British Empire, examining how laws were created, applied, resisted and recast; how law related to powerful ideas and how legal disputes can be used as windows to social changes. The empirical content will focus on the British empire in south and south-east Asia, with frequent comparisons made with Africa and Australia.

    • MAHI716 America and the United Nations 1945 to the present

      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.

    • MAHI718 Independent Research Project in History

      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).

    • MAHI721 From Unification to Reunification: Key Themes in Modern German History

      This module is an introduction to the major themes of political, social and economic development in Germany, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Themes include nineteenth century revolution and unification, Imperialism and WW1, from the Weimar Republic to Dictatorship, WW2, the FRG and the GDR; and revolution and reunification.

    • MAHI722 Elizabeth I: The Failure of a Dynasty?

      This module will allow students to explore how Elizabeth I and her regime dealt with the major religious, dynastic, social and international conflicts and challenges of her reign. Students will explore the limits of the Elizabethan regime¿s success, engaging directly with contemporary views, while also considering the subsequent history and mythology of the last Tudor monarch.

    • MAHI723 Key Debates in Modern Japanese History

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

    • MAHI724 Key Aspects of Maritime History

      This module will allow students to focus on a key aspect of maritime history between 1450 and 2000. Using primary sources and recent historiography students will have the opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of a crucial element of modern maritime history such as logistical, naval, cultural, political, technological changes and social history in the last 600 years.

    • MAHI725 Victorian Sites

      This introduces students to important themes - social, cultural, political, intellectual - in the nineteenth century through built environments including `iconic¿ sites like the Palace of Westminster, Royal Courts of Justice, St Pancras railway station, Crystal Palace; and others, including nonconformist chapels, civic halls, penitentiaries, piers and domestic architecture such as terraced housing or planned `social¿ housing. The production, `aesthetic intentions¿ and the social consumption of the sites, are examined.

    • MAHI733 Inter-War Britain 1919-40

      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.

    • MAHI734 Palaeography

      This studies handwriting (palaeography) from the medieval period onwards: specific scripts and documents (diplomatic) types; establishing principles of transcribing and editing manuscripts. Archaic dating, abbreviations and other elements of manuscripts commonly encountered in the archives, are studied. Manuscript material from Plymouth collections form core material to be read (with some training in reading Latin provided) and transcribed in a practical module offering crucial research skills for historians of the medieval, early modern and modern periods.

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 2019 20 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

To join MA History you will need:

  • an honours  degree in history or a related subject, or a professional qualification, recognised as being equivalent to degree standard
  • an ordinary degree, foundation degree, higher national diploma, or university diploma, accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field.

If you possess overseas qualifications you can check their comparability with the UK equivalent through UK NARIC, who provide an advisory service.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £7,500 £7,725
International £14,000 £14,400
Part time (Home/EU) £420 £430
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.

Alumnus loyalty reward for postgraduate study

From September 2018, the University applies a discretionary alumni reward where alumnus meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • a 20 per cent discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.

PGCE programmes, Master of Architecture, MChem, MEng, MGeol, MPsych, MSci, ResM and postgraduate research degrees are not included in this reward.

For further details, and contact information, please review our alumni discount policy.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

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

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student

The MA is comprised of 180 credits.

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September, with some January starts also available. 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 services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

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 weeks of 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
Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy 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

Graduate perspective

"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 graduate

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.

Find out more about contact hours and attendance requirements
 

History resources

Research students have access to a host of e.resources for undertaking primary research, in addition to our large and growing collection of secondary sources on the Library’s open shelves, as e.books and e.journals, 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.




 

The Box: Plymouth's heritage hub

Postgraduate history students will be able to benefit from the new flagship heritage centre in Plymouth, called The Box. This will bring 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.

<p>The Box -&nbsp;image courtesy of Plymouth City Council</p>
<p>The Box - image courtesy of Plymouth City Council<br></p>

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.

Find out what might be next for you with an MA in 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.

James tells you more about the programme and his research interests

People