MA Global History

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.

 
Rose Parkinson

Rose Parkinson

MA Global History

“I chose Birmingham primarily because of the quality of the course and the extent to which it matched with my specific research areas and historical interests. The College actively encourages student engagement, which creates a lovely sense of participation and contribution.”

You will take two course-specific core modules, two core research skills modules and then select up to two modules from a range of options offered by the Department of History. In addition to your taught modules, you complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Course content

You will take two modules focused on global history:

  • Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections
  • The Making of the World: Themes in Global History

Both of these modules are team-taught, drawing on the diverse regional and chronological expertise available in the Department of History. Tutors include: Dr Arezou Azad; Dr Jakub BenesDr Courtney Campbell; Dr Michelle ChresfieldDr Simon Jackson; Dr Christopher MarkiewiczDr Sadiah Qureshi; Dr Daniel ReynoldsDr Lucie RyzovaDr Manu Sehgal; Dr Margaret Small; Dr Kate Smith; Prof. Naomi Standen; Dr Frank UekotterDr Simon Yarrow; and Dr Shirley Ye.

You will also study two core modules focused on developing your research skills:

  • Historical Methods
  • Research Methods and Skills: Dissertation Preparation

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

Further module information is available below.

Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Why study this course

  • Research strength – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • Excellent reputation – the University of Birmingham has been ranked as one of the world's top 100 institutions to study History in the 2018 QS World Rankings.
  • Extensive expertise – we have a wide range of staff with research interests in global history who contribute to the programme and/or offer dissertation supervision.
  • Be a part of an exciting department – you will join a lively postgraduate community with opportunities to enhance your learning through events and research seminars.
  • 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. 

Modules

Core modules

You will study four core modules:

Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections

This Autumn core module offers an introductory survey of global history arranged in a chronological manner. It draws on chronological depth unique in the UK and considerable regional breadth in order to present you with a truly global perspective. Content will range from the decline and fall of ancient empires through the spread of new religions across the multiple shifting political formations in Afro-Eurasia, to early modern voyages of exploration and intellectual movements, and the age of revolutions which gave birth to nations in the midst of global political ruptures. The emphasis is on providing points of cross-cultural, cross-regional ‎comparison and to develop your awareness of key connections, such ‎as trade networks, cultural flows and exchanges, forms of migration, shifting political structures and ‎the emergence of modern states, nations and empires.

Seminar topics will typically include (subject to staff availability): Decline and Fall of Ancient Empires; Empire and its Holy Cities: Caliphate and the East; The Silk Routes; The Long Fourteenth Century: The Rise and Eclipse of a Pre-Western World System; Age of Exploration; India from Colony to Empire; Empire, Development and Decolonisation; Neoliberal Globalisation.

Assessment: Written assignment

The Making of the World: Themes in Global History

This Spring core module is conceived around some of the major processes that shaped history and the key concepts that historians use to make sense of the past. Using case studies of considerable regional breadth and chronological depth, you will familiarise yourself with the building blocks of past and present societies. These key processes and themes include: the importance of the environment in human history; issues of space, geography and the formation of border regions; time and temporality; religion and notions of value; and historically and culturally diverse constructions of subjectivity and social order including gender, sexuality, class, race, and ethnicity. The module ends with an in-depth look at a key text bringing many of these themes together, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land.

Seminar topics will typically include (subject to staff availability): Boundaries and Geographical Space in Global History; Environmental Humanities: Energy and Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene; Religion and the Market: Ideas of Value in the Pre-Modern World; Race, Ethnicity and Social Hierarchy; Gender and Sexuality in Global History; Material Cultures; Temporality, Empire and Globe.

Assessment: Written assignment

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. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Research Methods and Skills: Dissertation Preparation

This module prepares you for your dissertation research. You will be expected to produce a short dissertation proposal and you will choose a tutor who will supervise your dissertation preparation work (for a list of tutors, see above). You will have one-to-one meetings with your supervisor, but you will also attend general sessions on research skills.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Optional modules

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which may include (subject to staff availability):

  • After the Mongols: Political Authority in Islamic Lands, 1200-1600
  • China in Revolution: China under Mao (1949-1976)
  • From Empire to Colony: Indian Society, Politics and Economy, c. 1757-1885
  • Globalisation since 1945
  • Mass Society and Modernity
  • Slavery and Freedom in Twentieth Century Africa

Alternatively, you may wish to choose a double special subject module. Topics available in recent years have included:

  • Britain, the Slave Trade and Anti-Slavery in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
  • British Women and Internationalism in the Twentieth Century
  • Empire-wallahs: India in the British Imagination
  • The History of Grand Strategy
  • The Lure of the Modern: China Between Tradition and Modernity (1839 to the Present Day)

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


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 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £16,290 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.

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.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

You will need an Honours degree, normally in any humanities or social science discipline, such as History, Politics, Cultural Studies, or Literature, and normally of an upper second-class standard. All applications are treated on their merits, and we are happy to consider applicants who may have travelled by non-standard routes. Such applicants should contact the programme convenor in the first instance.

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

 

Application deadlines

International students requiring visas

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry on Monday 1 October 2018.

UK/EU students

A limited number of places remain available on this programme for UK/EU students who submit a completed application by Friday 21 September 2018. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

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

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website. 

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, followed by your dissertation. Depending on the modules you take, you can typically expect six to nine hours of classroom time per week, two or three per module. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation. 

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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).

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.

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

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

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.