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.

 

Dr Steffen Prauser

Dr Steffen Prauser

“We have a global approach and our students study all types of conflict from all types of regions of the world. It's a widespread programme and this flexibility helps to make it special and unique.”

Studied full-time over one year, this programme allows you to combine core and optional components to suit your experience and interests.

Core modules

All students take 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.

The final core component of the course is a written dissertation. 

Optional modules

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 terms)
  • 20-credit advanced options (taken in the autumn or spring terms)

See 'Modules' tab below for more information on available options.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

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. 
  • 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 2019 QS World University Rankings.
  • 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.  
  • 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.

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.

Modules

Core 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.
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: Written assignment

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. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Optional modules

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:

  • The American Civil War
  • The British Army on the Western Front 1914-18
  • The English Civil War
  • The Nazis at War

Previous advanced options have included:

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

Assessment: Special subject modules and advanced options are assessed by written assignment.

Subject to availability, it is possible to choose relevant 20-credit options outside of the Department of History. Those particularly relevant to this programme include Historical and Contemporary Debates on the Holocaust, offered by the Department of Theology and Religion.

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 2019/20:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time
  • International: £16,995 full-time

Fee status

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


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

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

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.

International students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - our country pages show you 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, or PTE with 59 in all four skills. 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.

Learn more about international entry requirements

How to apply

Application deadlines

Please note that applications for September 2019 have now closed. Applications for September 2020 will reopen shortly.

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.

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 a 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. 

Each 20-credit 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).

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.

Over the past five years, 93% 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, museums or the armed forces; others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance to fundraising. 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.

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.