MA Global History

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‘To see the world in a grain of sand’ (William Blake)

The aim of this course is to put something very big under the microscope. By expanding the scale at which historians would normally operate, our Global History MA will present you with an opportunity to think with growing confidence and imagination about your world, its origins, its complexities and continuous transformations across a uniquely broad geographical and chronological scope.

You will be taught the latest skills, concepts and approaches to the subject, and you will share in the imaginative challenges and intellectual vistas that this exciting new field of history is opening up. It is from this largest of historical perspectives that you will be invited to choose your own specialist research topic, culminating in a supervised 15,000-word dissertation.

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

You will study four core modules (full descriptions available below):

  • Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections
  • Making Sense of the World: Themes in Global History
  • Historical Methods: Research Skills
  • Research Methods and Skills: Dissertation Preparation

You will also choose two optional modules, or a double special-subject module, from a wide range available from across the Department of History.

You will complete the MA with a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Why study this course

  1. Taught by experts – you will study alongside some of the finest minds in History. The Department of History was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  2. Join an active and vibrant department – to further impact your wider academic life whilst at Birmingham you will have the opportunity to attend regular research seminars, conferences, and reading groups within the Department. 
  3. Flexibility – you will have an exciting opportunity to really go in-depth into your chosen area of study. For example writing your dissertation is an exciting opportunity for you to really go in-depth into an area which interests you whilst also working with a supervisor who is an expert in the field.
  4. Access to a wide range of services – as a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work. You will be supported throughout your time at Birmingham – if that be aiding your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away and making sure you develop as an academic writer. 


You will study four core modules:

Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections

This module will be an introductory survey of global history. It will draw on considerable chronological depth and regional breadth in order to present you with a truly global perspective. Content will range from the decline and fall of ancient empires through new medieval empires in Afro-Eurasia, early modern voyages of exploration to the age of revolutions which gave birth to new nations in the midst of global political ruptures. 

Making Sense of the World: Themes in Global History

This module will be split into two parts: ‘Understanding the Past’ and ‘Past Understandings’. The former deals with key issues in global history, such as: the formation of the world’s geography; periodisation and the issues of how to distinguish between historical periods on such a grand scale; the creation of border regions; and the importance of the environment in human history. The second section will explore different ways in which past peoples have understood the global world. This will examine the importance of themes such as religion, gender, race and finish with an in-depth look at a key text bringing together many of the themes of the course, Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land.

Historical Methods

This module introduces you to the major developments in historical approaches and to some of the major schools of, or tendencies in, historical research. The focus is on the application of the ideas to historical practice then and now.

Research Methods and Skills: Dissertation Preparation

This module covers what the dissertation project will entail. You will be expected to produce a short dissertation proposal for submission and you will be allocated a tutor who will supervise your dissertation preparation work. You will have one-to-one meetings with your supervisor, but you will also attend available generic sessions on skills run on the Research Skills module and available across the University.

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which includes:

  • Cities of Paradise and Empire in the Islamic World: From the 15th Century to the Present Day
  • Conflict in the Modern Middle East
  • Everyday Life and Survival under Nazi and Soviet Occupation, 1939-1953Hidden from History: Homosexuality through History
  • Piracy, Plunder, Peoples and Exploitation: English Exploration in the Tudor Period
  • Sex and Sexualities in the Modern British World, 1880-1970
  • The Black Death In Medieval Europe, Disaster, Change and Recovery
  • The Silk Roads
  • The Viking Age

Alternatively, you may wish to choose a double special subject module. The options available will typically include:

  • Britain, the Slave Trade and Anti-slavery in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
  • Building Nations in the “Bloodlands”. A History of Conflict, Occupation, and Independence in East Central Europe ca. 1880 – 1953
  • Game without Thrones: Saga Age Iceland c.900-c.1250
  • Imperialism and the Global Environment: Europe and the Transformation of the Tropical World, 1850-present
  • Protestants, Papists and Puritans: Religious Change under Elizabeth I and James I
  • The Age of Discovery
  • The Mongols and China
  • The Russian Revolution, 1917

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £6,570 full-time; £3,285 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two 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

You will need an Honours degree in a relevant subject, such as History, Politics, Cultural Studies, normally of an upper second-class standard.

Learn more about entry requirements

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

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.

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

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Learning and teaching takes on this course place via seminars, tutorials, reading texts on theory and methods and your own research on primary sources.

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.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

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.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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 92% 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, museum or archivist work. Others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance to civil service to fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Alcester Heritage Network; HSBC; KPMG; Ministry of Defence; and the National Trust.

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.


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.

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.