MA Military History by distance learning

Are you interested in exploring military history? Do you want to study a whole series of different aspects of war?

Our two-year MA in Military History by distance learning programme offers you the opportunity to explore military history, drawing in particular on Birmingham's expertise in the history of the two World Wars and air power. Subjects to be studied include command and leadership; tactics, operations and the use of technology; ethics and war; and the individual's experience of war. You will complete the MA with a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

 
Dr Jonathan Boff

Dr Jonathan Boff

“You will tap into a very long established and successful centre for the study of warfare here at the University of Birmingham. We’ve got a community of literally hundreds of scholars, teachers and students working on the history of warfare and you will become part of it. ”

From the walls of Troy to the streets of Sangin, warfare has been at the centre of human life and death.

Those who know nothing of war can understand neither the past nor the present, for, as Trotsky famously said, ‘war is the locomotive of history’. Modern military history does more than re-fight old battles, however. It can, for example, teach us much about the cultures and societies that find themselves at war, and indeed about the souls of the men and women who do the fighting.

This course will stimulate and challenge you to think about the history of warfare in all its aspects, building a skill set over two years of part-time study which will equip you for further research in the field and/or broaden and deepen your understanding of the cruel, complex but endlessly fascinating phenomenon that is war.

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

  • Research Skills: Methodology and Sources
  • Tactics and Operational Art
  • Command and Leadership in War
  • Ethics of War
  • Experience of War
  • Dissertation Preparation

Assessment

Each module is assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation. Your dissertation will be based on a substantial and sustained investigation of an historical problem – of your choice – relating to military history, undertaken in the light of current knowledge and after an analysis of available primary material. 

Why study this course

  • Research expertise - the Department of History was ranked first in the country in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. The programme is also delivered through a dedicated research centre, the Centre for War Studies.
  • Join an active online community - Studying by distance learning is not a lonely experience within the Department of History. You will get to meet interact with students from all over the world – virtually – which will impact on your learning experience.
  • Flexibility - you will have an exciting opportunity to explore your chosen area of study in depth through your choice of dissertation topic. 
  • Career changing - a qualification from the University of Birmingham can be the springboard to promotion with your current employer, the platform from which to launch a new career or simply a way to become more effective in your current role.
  • Ongoing support - you will be assigned a personal tutor who will guide you through the programme.

Modules

You will study six core modules: 

Research Skills: Methodology and Sources

The module will introduce you to the historiography of warfare as well as to a variety of different research methodologies and research sources. A series of case-studies will focus on key research sources (published and unpublished) for the experience of war, including: official histories; the diaries, memoirs, letters and autobiographies of contemporary actors; archival sources, including the National Archives of the United Kingdom; as well as non-documentary kinds of evidence.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Tactics and Operational Art

The module will introduce you to how technological and conceptual change has driven the development of tactics and operational art since the 1500s, examining how armies from different cultural backgrounds have managed these issues and the relationship between innovation and military success. A series of case studies will focus on key examples of tactics and operational art in warfare.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Command and Leadership in War

Questions of command and leadership are central to the history of warfare. The module will introduce you to the evolution of command styles and the role of the leader over time, assessing the importance of the individual’s contribution to military history and placing this in the context of broader structural change. A series of case-studies will focus on key debates about command and leadership in wartime.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Ethics of War

The module will introduce you to concepts of Ius ad Bellum and Ius in Bello (“justice of war” and “justice in war”) and explore how they have been applied in various conflicts over time, addressing issues such as proportionality and the status of non-combatants. It will analyse attempts to impose legal, ethical and moral constraints on warfare and the successes and failures of these attempts. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Experience of War

The module will introduce you to ‘war from the bottom up’: how individuals have experienced warfare. It will analyse coping strategies, the construction and maintenance of morale both military and civilian and explore why these have sometimes broken down. Finally, it will introduce you to individuals’ response to war as expressed in art, from poetry to moving pictures.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Dissertation Preparation

This module will also equip you with the skills necessary to both plan and undertake a specialist piece of research at Masters level. It 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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is 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 2018/19:

  • Home/EU: £4,500 part-time

As this is a part-time programme, the above fee is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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.

Entry requirements

A good Honours degree in History or an equivalent discipline. Other professional experience or qualifications comparable to degree standard will also be considered. Examples might include 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.

Although much of the course is delivered through our ‘virtual learning environment,’ support is always available. You will have a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you have access to a wide range of online resources too.

You also have the opportunity to meet other students and academic staff through online chats and discussion forums.

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

Related research

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: History

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.

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.