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MA History (Global History)

Start date
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fees for 2024 entry:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £23,310 full-time
More detail.

The aim of this course is to put something very big under the microscope. 

Our specialist pathway in Global History expands the scale historians normally operate at and presents you with an opportunity to think with growing confidence and imagination about your world, its origins, complexities and continuous transformations. 

You'll learn the latest skills, concepts and approaches to the subject across a broad geographical and chronological scope. Global historians examine how global forces and connections have long shaped our societies and cultures. You'll share in the imaginative challenges and intellectual vistas that this exciting new field of history opens up. 

From these expansive historical perspectives you will be invited to choose your own specialist research topic, culminating in a supervised 12,000-word dissertation.

Research in the Department spans the medieval to the modern, including topics such as social movements in Brazil to environmental change in China, the Ottoman Empire, medieval and early modern Iran to imperial formations in Ireland and cultural and economic change in the US. 

This research expertise is evident in our teaching within our programmes, drawing on the diverse regional and chronological expertise available in the Department of History.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships


At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

The School of History and Cultures hosts workshops and seminars throughout the year in which students are invited to come and listen to the leading experts in respective fields discussing their work. They actively encourage student engagement, which creates a lovely sense of participation and contribution.


Why study this course?

  • Research strengths – The Department of History is ranked eighth in the country in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on Grade Point Average, according to Times Higher Education.
  • Extensive expertise – we have a wide range of staff with research interests in global history who contribute to the pathway and/or offer dissertation supervision.
  • Take a truly global approach - you will have the opportunity to study a wide range of topics from across the world and different periods of history. 
  • 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. 

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.


Core modules

You will study three core modules:

Historical Approaches

This module provides students with an advanced introduction to some of the ways in which historians have approached a range of prominent themes within the modern historical discipline, such as religion, gender, race, class, community, and conflict.  The module introduces these themes through a mixture of case studies and background reading and information, with an emphasis on historiographical development and a range of different theoretical, methodological and interdisciplinary influences, such as sociology, anthropology, the material turn, etc.  Each week students are guided in reading influential texts that relate to one of these key themes, and students then meet in small seminar groups to discuss a mixture of historiographical case studies and additional theoretical background.
Assessment: 3,000 word assignment (100%)

Research Preparation

This module is designed to deliver three complementary strands, with the ultimate aim of supporting students on the MA History to design, plan and research an ambitious dissertation topic.  The first strand is a series of lectures on key research skills in the historical discipline, ensuring that students are confident when it comes to aspects of research design such as defining a topic, reviewing secondary literature, identifying and accessing appropriate primary sources, etc.  The second strand is a series of seminars designed to support specialist sub-disciplinary skills relating to (for example) chronological period or a particular geographical area or methodological approach.  The third strand is a series of one-to-one supervisions with an academic advisor, to offer the student guidance and feedback as they devise their own unique research project, and lay the groundwork for their masters dissertation.  The module also helps students to develop important skills in presenting and articulating their research to a larger non-specialist audience.
Assessment: 2,000-word literature review (75%), 10 minute oral presentation (25%)

Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections

This module is an introductory survey of global history. It draws on considerable regional and theoretical breadth and chronological depth. In doing so, it presents students with tools for approaching global history through a truly global perspective that moves beyond Eurocentric and ethnocentric assumptions. Events and periods covered in this module may range from the decline and fall of ancient empires, such as Rome and China, through new medieval empires in Afro-Eurasia, early modern voyages of exploration to the age of revolutions which gave birth to new nations in the midst of global political ruptures. Each section presents a different approach to global history through a specific case. These approaches could include (but are not limited to): spatial history, global microhistory, Atlantic World studies, Global South studies, global history through biography, as well as global histories of race, development, gender, and the environment. Throughout the emphasis is on providing theoretical approaches to points of cross-cultural, cross-regional comparisons to develop students’ awareness of key connections, such as trade networks, forms of migration, shifting political structures and the emergence of nations.
Assessment: 3,000 word assignment (100%)

Optional modules

If you choose to study the Global History pathway you must choose at least 20 credits from the Global History or Special Subject lists below. 

These lists are indicative; not all modules will run each year depending on staff availability.

Global History 

  • US History and Historiography
  • A Holiday from Reality: A History of Drugs and Drug Use in the Modern Era
  • America at War
  • Before Globalisation?: Afro-Eurasian World History 500-1800
  • Black Activisms in the US South: Power, Feminisms, and Black Lives Mattering from 1960-present
  • Bread, Wine and Barricades: Freedom, Ecology and the Nature of Modern France
  • Britain’s Wars of Colonisation and Decolonisation
  • China in Revolution: China under Mao (1949-1976)
  • Conflict in the Modern Middle East
  • Experts, Scholars, and Spies: the Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe
  • Faith and Fire
  • Gender and Sexuality in the 20th Century United States
  • From the OSS to Snowden: A History of American Intelligence Agencies since 1945
  • Gender and the Making of Modern Britain
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage? Gender and Sexual Minorities 1885 to the Present
  • History of Technology
  • Indigenous and Settler Histories
  • Land, Law and Violence in the American West
  • Life After Death: Culture, Politics and Memory in Post-War Europe, 1945-1973
  • Messiahs and Monarchs: Islam and Early Modern Iran
  • Reason and Romance
  • The Making of the British Raj: Gender, Conquest and Race in early colonial India,c.1757-1885
  • The United States South: From Plantations to NASCAR
  • Queer and Trans Histories

Special Subjects

If you choose a Special Subject as an option, you must take two co-requisite modules, 20 credits in each Semester.  This list is indicative; not all modules will run each year depending on staff availability.

Topics available in recent years have included:

  • After Hitler: Politics and Society in (West) Germany during the Adenauer Era, 1945-1965 A
  • After Hitler: Politics and Society in (West) Germany during the Adenauer Era, 1945-1965 B
  • Britain and the First World War: A
  • Britain and the First World War: B
  • British Women and Internationalism since 1850 A
  • British Women and Internationalism since 1850 B
  • Dossers: Homelessness in Modern Britain, 1900 to Present A
  • Dossers: Homelessness in Modern Britain, 1900 to Present B
  • Egypt in Revolution. Modernity, Masculinity and Revolution in 20th Century Egypt A
  • Egypt in Revolution. Modernity, Masculinity and Revolution in 20th Century Egypt B
  • Empire Comes Home: India in the Making of Britain (Masters): A
  • Empire Comes Home: India in the Making of Britain (Masters): B
  • Facing the Fuhrer, the Duce and the Emperor: British Foreign and Defence Policies, 1931-1942 A
  • Facing the Fuhrer, the Duce and the Emperor: British Foreign and Defence Policies, 1931-1942 B
  • Fighting Over Freedom: American Political Ideas from Revolution to Civil War (Masters): A
  • Fighting Over Freedom: American Political Ideas from Revolution to Civil War (Masters): B
  • Global Cities and Urban Lives, 1690-1914 (Masters) A
  • Global Cities and Urban Lives, 1690-1914 (Masters) B
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage: Gender and Sexual Minorities in the British World A
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage: Gender and Sexual Minorities in the British World B
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich A
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich B
  • The Revolting Right: Conservative Activism in Late Twentieth Century Britain A
  • The Revolting Right: Conservative Activism in Late Twentieth Century Britain B
  • Terrorising History: Terrorist Motivations, Methods, and Mayhem A
  • Terrorising History: Terrorist Motivations, Methods, and Mayhem B
  • Where there is Discord: Making Thatcher’s Britain A
  • Where there is Discord: Making Thatcher’s Britain B
  • Women and Social Movements in Brazil A
  • Women and Social Movements in Brazil B

Any remaining credits can be taken from the wide range of History options. It is also possible to select options offered by other departments such as African Stuides, Classics and Ancient History, Cultural Heritage, Modern Languages, Art History or English - with the approval of the Programme Director. See an indicative list of options.


In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 12,000-word dissertation. The dissertation is the culmination of the MA: the moment when you put into practice the skills and knowledge you have built up in the previous modules, and the moment when you take wing as an independent historian. Your dissertation must be on a topic within the pathway area of specialism.

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.


We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £10,530 full-time; £5,265 part-time
  • International: £23,310 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 or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

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.

How To Apply

Please review our Entry Requirements before making your application.

You will make your application to our MA History programme. If you would like to specialise in Global History, you will indicate this at the module choice process upon entry onto the programme. 

How to Apply for a Postgraduate Degree - Taught programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 30 June 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard 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.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements

Course delivery

Teaching year

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

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each of the first two terms, followed by your dissertation. 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).


The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: History

Our History postgraduates 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 or in museums. Others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations including finance, marketing, teaching and publishing. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include Royal Air Force, Ministry of Defence, University of Birmingham, Royal Air Force Museum and University of Oxford.