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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Postgraduate loans

You may now be eligible for a government loan of up to £10,280 towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

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 Plymouth University’s Centre for Research in Humanities and Performing Arts, and access to Peninsula Art’s 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
    • MAHI703 Britain in the Sixties

      This module introduces the cultural transformation which Britain experienced in the long 1960s. Through a mix of social history, cultural history, and religious history, it surveys the key changes of an explosive decade. These include: the arrival of affluence, the rise of youth culture, the decline of Christianity, the assault on authority, the sexual revolution, the student uprisings, the advent of anti-racism, and the questioning of gender roles.

    • 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.

    • MAHI714 Culture and Society. Britain c 1760-1914

      The module examines key selected themes in the culture and society of Britain c.1760 ¿ 1914. Students will examine primary sources such as pamphlets, books and visual material, to gain a critical awareness and understanding of aspects of British culture and society in this period which may include the duel, capital punishment, mourning cultures, Sunday Schools, culinary cultures, race and xenophobia.

    • 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).

    • MAHI720 Key Debates in Post War Japanese History

      This module explores key themes and debates in the history of Japan from the end of the Second World War through its rise as a global economic and cultural power to its 'lost decade' at the end of the twentieth century. In its attempt to define the 'postwar', this module explores the often fraught debates on Japanese identity with an emphasis on Japan's domestic, regional, and globalised cultural presence and projections.

    • 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.

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 2017 18 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 2017 2018
Home/EU £6,500 To be confirmed
International £13,250 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £350 To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

How to apply

Applying for postgraduate taught study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Postgraduate Admissions and Enquiries team are 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 have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by Plymouth University, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

If you would like any further information please contact the Postgraduate and Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.


Applying for postgraduate research study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. The Doctoral College is available to answer any queries on our postgraduate research degrees.  If  you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by Plymouth University, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via

If you would like any further information please contact the Doctoral College:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 587640


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

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.

You’ll be expected to attend a number of academic-led sessions each week through term time.

Find out more about contact hours and attendance requirements

What’s next? with MA History

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

Graduate profile - Danny Saxby

It was such an easy decision to undertake the MA. The University offered modules that reflected my keen interest in early modern history and the specific and detailed knowledge of the tutors ensured that each one massively contributed to my development.

Learn more about Danny