MA History of Warfare

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.

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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)

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

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Access to academic support services – As a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away.  
  • 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.

Modules

All students will study three core modules:

Economics of War

As events in the last two centuries have shown, the outcome of conventional wars is very much dependent on the economic power of the belligerents; and in case of asymmetrical warfare, on the question if the economical ‘superior power’ is willing to make the sacrifices. The module will introduce you to the economic problems of warfare since the Napoleonic era. Issues investigated will include: war finance; (industrial) production of war materials; organisation of wartime economies, including raw material provision; interruption of enemies’ economic systems; the ‘military-industrial complex’ and its influence; the impact political decisions have on the effectiveness and efficiency of armed forces; and the impact of spiralling procurement costs.

Historical Methods

This module introduces you to the major developments in historical approaches since the Second World War and to some of the major schools of, or tendencies in, historical research such as the Annales School, the English historians’ response to Marxism, cultural history, the linguistic turn, gender, history of science and critical social theory (Geertz and Foucault). The focus is on the application of the ideas to historical practice then and now.

Research Skills: Dissertation Preparation

The module will provide detailed guidance on the techniques necessary for the location of primary and secondary sources relevant to your dissertation research. You will become familiar with advanced bibliographical aids and with how to search in relevant libraries, archives and data sources. You will also undertake a detailed analytical survey of the secondary literature relevant to your dissertation topic. 

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

This module addresses general questions relating to the historiography of warfare and considers how the subject has evolved from ancient times to the present. The principal schools of military history are considered together with those individuals who have made a major contribution to the evolution of the discipline.

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, chosen from 40-credit special subject modules or 20-credit advanced options. 

Previous special subject modules have included:

  • After Hitler: Politics and Society in West Germany during the Adenauer Era, 1945-1965
  • Bearers of the Cross: Violence and Devotion in the Crusading World
  • Nazis at War
  • The British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918
  • The English Civil War and Local Society
  • The Revolting Right: Conservative Activism in Post-War Britain 

Previous advanced options have included:

  • Conflict in the Modern Middle East
  • France and the Second World War
  • The Costs of War
  • The Good War? A Cultural and Military History
  • Warfare at Sea 

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

Fees and funding

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

  • Home / EU: £6,570 full-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

The above fees quoted are 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

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Related research

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.

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.

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.