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.

Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.


You will study two course-specific core modules:

  • 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 Skills
  • Research Methods and Skills: Dissertation Preparation

Full descriptions of these four modules are available below.

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


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

  • Flexibility – you will have an exciting opportunity to explore your chosen area of study in-depth, through your choice of optional modules and dissertation topic.
  • Research expertise – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • 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. 


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 major developments in historical approaches and to some of the major schools of, and recent directions in, historical research. We will focus on the application of ideas to historical practice then and now.

Assessment: Written assignment

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

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

  • After the Mongols: Politics Authority in Islamic Lands, 1200-1600
  • Before Globalisation? Afro-Eurasian World History, 500-1800
  • Before Postcolonialism: Europe and Its Empires
  • Cities of Paradise and Empire in the Islamic World: From the 15th Century to the Present Day
  • Conflict in the Modern Middle East
  • From Empire to Colony: Indian Society, Politics and Economy, c. 1757-1885
  • Globalisation since 1945
  • History and Politics of South Africa
  • Piracy, Plunder, Peoples and Exploitation: English Exploration in the Tudor Period
  • 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:

  • Age of Discovery
  • Britain, the Slave Trade and Anti-slavery in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
  • British Women and Internationalism in the Twentieth Century
  • Building Nations in the “Bloodlands”. A History of Conflict, Occupation, and Independence in East Central Europe ca. 1880 – 1953
  • Histories of Hate: Fear and Loathing in Early Modern Europe
  • Imperialism and the Global Environment: Europe and the Transformation of the Tropical World, 1850-present
  • Modernity, Masculinity and Revolution in Twentieth Century Egypt
  • Race and Immigration in Twentieth Century Britain
  • The History of Grand Strategy
  • The Lure of the Modern: Defining China from New Culture Movement to Cultural Revolution, 1910s-1970s
  • The Russian Revolution

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

Please apply by Friday 31 August 2018. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application. Please also be aware that earlier deadlines may apply if you wish to make an application for funding.

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.

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.


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.