MRes Early Modern History

The MRes degree is a research programme with some provision for taught modules.

It is aimed at those who wish to move beyond taught work and are prepared to engage in research in depth for a substantial postgraduate thesis, but who also wish to take modules that help develop research and related skills, and to study broader historical subjects with other postgraduates.

After consultation with your academic supervisor, you can pursue a research project in any aspect of British or European history, including European discovery of the wider world and focus on political, military or diplomatic history, or the history of early modern religion, culture, society or ideas.

The Department of History was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Jonathan Willis

“The MRes programme is perfect for somebody who already has a working knowledge of early modern history and a well-developed research proposal. It enables you to get stuck in to the process of working towards your thesis from day one, as well as teaching useful skills and techniques to help you on your way. CREMS is home to staff working across the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on a wide range of topics, so whatever your interests we can probably support them!”

The degree consists of four elements which make a total of 180 credits:

  • 20,000 word thesis (120 credits)
  • Historical Methods module (20 credits, autumn)
  • Sources and Methods for Early Modern History (20 credits, spring)
  • Research Preparation (20 credits, autumn & spring)

Modules are assessed in various ways – by examination, coursework, presentation, transcription and attendance.

Why study this course

  • The Early Modern History MRes is run out of the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS), one of the most dynamic concentrations of early modern historians in the country.  We have more than half a dozen full time academic staff with expertise in the period c.1500-1800 in History alone, with geographical coverage including Tudor and Stuart England, local (West-Midlands) history, Germany, Italy, and the wider world.  CREMS also has excellent links with staff in English, the Shakespeare Institute, History of Art, and elsewhere.
  • CREMS supports a vibrant postgraduate community and, since its creation in 2004, has developed a thriving seminar culture that reflects the diverse research interests of staff and students across the departments of History and English, meaning that you’ll be able to gain insight from a range of academics and peers from across the College of Arts and Law.
  • In 2014 the Department of History was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The West Midlands and Birmingham are rich in associations with the history of the early modern period. The regional cathedrals (Lichfield, Gloucester and Worcester) and parish churches still reflect many of the religious changes of the period; the country houses and castles (such as Kenilworth and Warwick) offer fascinating insights into its material culture; and nearby Warwick and Stratford Upon Avon contain wonderful examples of early modern domestic and religious architecture.
  • Birmingham has excellent resources for this programme. The library is particularly strong in early modern history, religious history and local history materials, and the university’s Special Collections contain a wide range of early printed books, especially sixteenth and seventeenth century sermon material. The university also provides students with access to cutting-edge electronic resources, including Early English Books Online, all four parts of State Papers Online, and the Cecil Papers. The microfilm resources include a large collection of early Reformation ‘flugschriften’. Students also have use of the Shakespeare Institute’s excellent research library in Stratford–upon-Avon, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust library and Record Office, and the on-campus resources of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Birmingham is also centrally located in the UK, within easy reach of archives in London, Oxford, and elsewhere.

Modules

Historical Methods (20 credits)

This module, which runs throughout the autumn semester, is your chance to meet students from across the range of masters programmes offered within the department, from ancient and medieval through to modern and contemporary history.  Together, you will consider the key approaches, theories and concepts that have shaped historical practice since the Second World War. These include developments such as the Annales School, historians’ response to Marxism and to anthropological theory, cultural history, the linguistic turn, gender and critical social theory.  The focus is on the application of ideas to historical practice. You will investigate how early-modernists have adapted these theories and methods to their particular field of study.

Sources and Methods for Early Modern History (20 credits)

In the second semester, this module introduces in more detail the hands-on study of early modern history by interrogating a range of important sources, from ecclesiastical documents and court records, through state papers, printed books, diaries and letters to maps, music, digital humanities and visual and material approaches.  These sessions will familiarise you with important practical and methodological issues, as well as giving a sense of how these kinds of material have been used by historians to enhance our understanding of the past.

Research Preparation (20 credits)

This module, which consists of a number of different elements, runs throughout the academic year, and provides important training and support as you develop your research skills, and devise your own unique thesis topic.  In the autumn you will receive intensive training in palaeography (reading old handwriting), and in the spring your supervisor will help prepare you to give an oral presentation on your thesis topic, alongside an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and an outline thesis plan.


Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home / EU £4,180 full-time; £2,090 part-time*
  • Overseas: £15,210 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2017.

The above fee quoted is for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • If you are applying for a PhD then you will usually also need to hold a good Masters qualification.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

 

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Past and current MRes topics for the 20,000 word thesis (120 credits) have included:

  • Hunting for hidden meaning: an analysis of the history, interpretation and presentation of seventeenth-century plasterwork at St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
  • Colonial failure in the New World: A French and German comparison
  • Dutch and English competition for the Muscovy Trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
  • Harnessing Nature: Gardens and Science in John Evelyn’s England
  • Susan Countess of Denbigh and Women at the Caroline Court
  • Lioness”: Ladies-in-Waiting and their careers at the Tudor Court, 1509-1547
  • The “Black Book” and the politics of Elizabeth Warwick
  • Commercial theatre management in the age of Shakespeare
  • Religious Persecution in Henrician England

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Birmingham’s History graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by a range of employers. These skills include: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Over the past five years, over 93% of History postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our History postgraduates go on to use their studies directly, for example in heritage, museums or the armed forces; others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance, to publishing, to fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Royal Air Force; Ministry of Defence; University of Birmingham; Big Lottery Fund; Royal Air Force Museum; and University of Oxford.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.