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.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date: September

Details

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.

Modules

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

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.

University of Birmingham graduates may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

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

Apply now

Learning and teaching

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 through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

Employability

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

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.

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.