MA History of Warfare

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This distinctive full-time MA programme provides you with an opportunity to study the history and historiography of warfare from a multi-disciplinary and multi-period perspective.

A thorough grounding is provided in research methods and in the historiography and economics of warfare while a wide choice of options complements the broad range of possible dissertation subjects that can be supported by our staff.

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

All students will study three core modules:

  • Historical Methods
  • Research Skills: Dissertation Preparation
  • Economics of War

Students who did not take the BA War Studies degree at the University of Birmingham will also study an additional core module: Writing the History of Warfare.

Those who did not take the BA War Studies degree will then take 40 credits of optional modules, while University of Birmingham BA War Studies graduates will take 60 credits of optional modules. These are chosen from:

  • 40-credit special subject modules (which run across the autumn and spring semesters)
  • 20-credit advanced options (taken in the autumn or spring semesters)
  • 20-credit modules taken from the MA British First World War Studies programme (delivered via three Saturday day schools in either the autumn or spring semesters)

See modules tab below for more information on available options.

Each module is assessed by 4,000-word essay and you will complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation (60 credits).

Why study this course

  1. Taught by experts – You will have the opportunity to explore compelling and controversial areas within a rich and diverse environment. Our academics are all experts in their field which include military history and social and cultural history, so you will benefit from their professional knowledge. 
  2. Excellent research reputation – 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Fantastic resources available – for example the University Special Collections houses some 60,000 rare and early printed books and upwards of 2 million manuscript and archive items.


Previous special subject modules have included:

  • The English Civil War and Local Society
  • The Sharpe End: The British Army and the Defeat of Napoleon
  • The British Army on the Western Front
  • Britain and the Home Front in the Second World War
  • Bearers of the cross: violence and devotion in the crusading world
  • Building nations in the “bloodlands”. A history of conflict, occupation, and independence in east central Europe ca. 1880 – 1953 
  • The British army on the western front 1914-18
  • Facing the Fuhrer and the Duce: British foreign and defence policies 1935-1940
  • The Nazis at War

Previous advanced options have included:

  • Everyday Life and Survival under Nazi and Soviet occupation, 1939 – 1953
  • Britain's Wars of Colonisation and Decolonisation, 1815 – 1960
  • The Costs of War
  • Conflict in the Modern Middle East 
  • The United States and World War 2
  • Everyday Life and Survival Under Nazi and Soviet Occupation, 1939-1953
  • Britain’s Wars of Colonisation and Decolonisation, 1815-1960

Modules available on the MA British World War Studies include:

  • Brass Hats and Frock Coats: British Strategy in the Great War
  • Operational Development in the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, 1914-1918
  • Training, Tactics and Technology in the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, 1914-1918
  • Bullets and Billets: The British Experience of the First World War

Each module is assessed by 4,000-word essay and you will complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation (60 credits).

Related staff

Fees and funding

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

  • Home / EU £4,110 full-time; £2,055 part-time*
  • Overseas: £13,680 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* 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 2016.

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 tuituion 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

A good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline. Other professional qualifications comparable to degree standard would also be considered, e.g., an honours degree or higher degree in a subject other than History, or professional qualifications of degree standard such as law, accountancy, management, or published work in a relevant field. Every submission is considered on its own merits.

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

This programme is delivered through our Centre for War Studies, so you’ll be taught by academics who are experts in their field., so you’ll be taught by academics who are experts in their field.

Learning and teaching takes place via seminars, tutorials, work on primary sources, and reading texts on theory and methods.

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).

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.

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.