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MA/PGDip/PGCert Midlands and Local History

Start date
MA and PG Dip 2 years part-time; PG Cert 1 year part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fees for 2024 entry:
UK: £5,265 per year (MA); 
£3,510 per year (PG Dip); 
£3,510 (PG Cert)
More detail.

The MA/PG Dip/PG Cert in Midlands and Local History are the only programmes in the world that focus on the history of the Midlands region and its people.

From the furnaces of the Black Country to the Shropshire Hills, you will explore the region’s development, the changing experiences of local people and their communities, and the role that the region has played in shaping national and global history from the early modern period to the present.

You will be taught be leading academics and will benefit from our world-class facilities and collections, including the Cadbury Research Library and Barber Institute of Fine Arts, as well as field trips to local heritage sites where you can put your classroom learning into practice. Delivered part-time through monthly Saturday schools, these programmes are ideal for students who wish to combine academic study with work, caring responsibilities, or other commitments.

The MA is taught via six modules (three per year over two years) and a supervised dissertation. These include three thematic modules designed to develop your skills in key areas – ‘Introduction to Local History’, ‘Research Skills for Local History’, and ‘Making Midlands History’ – and three modules that correspond to broad chronological blocks from the early modern period to the present. As such, it combines specialist training in key skills with a broad overview of the history of the region over more than five hundred years, from the Reformation and Civil Wars to the Industrial Revolution and the 1980s race riots.

The PG Dip is taught via six modules across two years (but without the dissertation element of the full MA) while the PG Cert is a one-year programme comprised of three modules. Further details of modules can be found on the “Modules” tab below.

Students come from many different backgrounds and previous academic knowledge of history is not required. The programme is suitable if you are a recent graduate; if you are looking to develop higher-level research skills or enhance your knowledge and skills for CPD and/or professional purposes; or if you simply wish to pursue an interest in the local area and its history.

This programme is suspended for 2024 entry. Please see the How to apply for further details. 

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.

Why study this course?

  • Research expertise - 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). The programme is also delivered through the Centre for Midlands History and Cultures, which promotes: research into the history of the Midlands; the publication of books, articles and electronic media which explore the region's past; and the sharing of knowledge between academics, independent scholars and heritage professionals.  
  • Lots of opportunities to get involved -  seminars, conferences, day schools, field trips and visits, the journal Midland History and opportunities to study for research degrees as well as the MA, provide historians and enthusiasts with the opportunity to develop your knowledge and exchange ideas on the history of the region. The Centre also works with other organisations to create research projects and foster public interest in the region’s past. There is an active Friends' organisation which provides a forum for communication for all of those with an interest in the history of the Midlands, from academics and programme alumni to local residents. 
  • Taught by experts - you will learn alongside tutors with specialist historical knowledge, who can share their experience and enthusiasm for the subject. Potential students are welcome to meet informally with the admissions tutor and/or attend classes to experience a taster of the course before applying
  • Location and resources - Birmingham's central position within the region and its status as the largest city make it an ideal place to study and research the history of the Midlands. The University Library, the Library of Birmingham and the record offices and local studies libraries and museums of the region all offer excellent resources for this programme, both in terms of books and articles on the history of the region and archives for the dissertation. The programme includes field trips to local heritage sites, offering an opportunity for you to put your classroom learning into practice. 

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.


To achieve the MA, you will need to complete all six of the core modules and the dissertation, totalling 180 credits; each module is worth 20 credits (120 in total) and the dissertation is worth 60 credits. However, if you wish to leave the course early, upon successful completion of 60 credits you will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate, and for 120 credits you will receive a Postgraduate Diploma.

The six core modules are:

Introduction to Local History

This module introduces you to the study of local history and the history of the Midlands region (broadly conceived as the historic counties of Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire). You will explore different approaches to local history and will engage in some of the key debates in the field. You will also focus on an aspect of the early history of the region (pre-1500): possibilities include the Mercian hegemony of the seventh and eight centuries; the development of the medieval church; or the creation of castles in the Midlands region. The module also includes a trip to a local heritage site, where you will explore the way the history of the region has been presented to a public audience and consider what particular objects can reveal about life in the Midlands.
Assessment: 3,000 word portfolio

Research skills for Local History

This module equips you with the skills required to undertake your own independent research projects in local/Midlands history. It introduces you to a wide variety of sources that can be used to study regional history from the early modern period to the present, including archival materials and online databases. You will gain experience working with a wide range of printed, manuscript, and material artefacts and will critically consider the ways these sources can be used to research and write history. You will also gain skills designing and developing research projects, including identifying research questions and producing project proposals and plans. On completion of the module, you will have the skills and confidence to undertake your own independent research.
Assessment: 1 x 1,500 word source analysis (50%) and 1 x 10-minute individual presentation (50%)

Conflict and Community: Life in the Midlands, 1500-1660

In this module you will explore the lives and experiences of the men, women, and children who lived in the early modern Midlands. You will interrogate how major national conflicts, such as the Reformation and British Civil Wars, affected the lives of individuals and communities at a local level and the ways in which local people participated in processes of religious, political, and social change. You will also consider what daily life was like in both rural and urban communities in the Midlands region, the extent to which this changed over time, and the impact that social status, gender, age, and faith had on a person's lived experience. You will be introduced to the kinds of sources that can be used to study the lives of ordinary people, including material and visual culture and a wide range of manuscript materials, and will critically assess the extent to which historians can reconstruct the voices and experiences of non-elite people who have left few traces on the historical record.
Assessment: 3,000 word essay  

Innovation, Industry, and Ideas: The Transformation of the Region, 1660-1837

This module focuses on the major political, intellectual, and economic developments of the long eighteenth century and their impact on the Midlands region. It introduces you to the processes of industrialisation and urbanisation that transformed the region during this period and places them in their global context, including issues of empire, slavery, and the region's impact on the wider world. You will also consider aspects of social and political change in the Midlands, including political and religious radicalism, and the impact that migration – both from within Britain and overseas – had on the region and its communities. You will explore the impact that major cultural developments – from the development of epistolary culture and the postal service to the rise of the regional press – had on the lives of men and women from across the social spectrum, paying particular attention to social, racial, religious, and geographic variation. You will work with a wide range of primary sources, including letters, printed materials, and material culture, and will draw on the Department's rich links with local partners and heritage sites to gain a deeper understanding of the lasting impact that this period has had on the Midlands region.
Assessment: 3,000 word essay

The Making of the Modern Midlands, 1837-present

Focusing on key social, economic, and political developments from the Victorian era to the present, this module explores how the Midlands became the place that we see today.  The resources available on the University of Birmingham campus and the surrounding area offer you the opportunity to engage with a wide range of primary sources, and you will also critically consider the utility of sources that are specific to the study of modern history, such as oral histories.
Assessment: 3,000 word essay

Making Midlands History

Most people encounter the history of their local area, not in academic essays, but in the world around them: statues and blue plaque; street names and buildings; visits to museums and heritage sites. In this module, you will reflect on the challenges involved in communicating history to non-academic audiences and gain hands-on experience producing historical materials for the wider public. You will explore an in-depth case study focused on an aspect of local history and will work to produce your own piece of historical interpretation aimed at a non-academic audience. Options will vary each year, but may include the history of a local family, a particular building, or local area. By the end of the module, you will have the skills and confidence needed to communicate your ideas to a broad audience to engage with historical activities beyond the University.
Assessment: Public history output (75%) and 1,500-word reflection on production process/challenges etc (25%)


In addition to your taught modules, for the MA you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 12,000-word dissertation.


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

  • UK: £5,265 part-time (MA) 
  • UK: £3,510 part-time (PG Dip) 
  • UK: £3,510 (PG Cert)

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 at the same rate (apart from the PGCert which is a one-year programme).

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.

How To Apply

This programme is suspended for 2024 entry. For further advice, please contact

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

Our Standard Requirements

We require either a good honours degree (usually a 2:1) in a relevant subject (e.g. History, Politics, Cultural Studies, Literature), or other relevant professional or academic experience. For the PG Cert, an A-level in a relevant humanities subject(s) at grade C or above (or equivalent) will also be considered. 

Students come from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds and all applications will be judged on their merits.

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

The course is delivered through the Centre for Midlands History and Cultures, which promotes research into the history of the Midlands, the publication of books, articles and electronic media which explore the region's past and the sharing of knowledge between academics, independent scholars and heritage professionals.  

Members of staff in the Centre have expertise in archaeology, history of art, social science, the history of medicine, education and heritage as well as history, so you’ll be taught by experts across a range of fields.

The course is delivered as Saturday schools (three per term), from 10.00am to 5.30pm, organised around lectures, seminars, small group workshops and field trips. A variety of ways of learning and methods of assessment are used to help you to develop the knowledge and study skills needed for success. Opportunities for individual tutorial support are provided outside of the times of the day schools.  

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 part-time MA student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation. For the PG Dip you would take three modules across each year (but without the dissertation element of the full MA), while the PG Cert is a one-year programme comprised of three modules. 

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.

This is a diverse course which attracts students from a range of different life stages. If you are looking to enhance your career prospects, your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career. There are also 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.