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MA History (Modern British Studies)

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

Annual tuition fees for 2023 entry:
UK: £10,170 full-time
International: £21,150 full-time
More detail.

Immerse yourself in the transformation of British society, culture and politics from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day on our specialist pathway in Modern British Studies. Work closely with leading scholars and participate in wide-ranging and cutting-edge modules that will develop your research skills and intellectual trajectory.

It is delivered through the Centre for Modern British Studies and you will benefit from the expertise of a large number of British historians at Birmingham, who will both teach on the programme and provide expert supervision for your dissertation.

 

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.

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Why study this course?

  • Research expertise – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History eighth in the country in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on Grade Point Average.
  • Learn from experts – the Department has an exciting wealth of different leading historians who work on Modern British History, with particular specialisms in the history of politics, cultural history, women's and gender history, and the history of sexuality. It also has a dedicated research centre in this area, the Centre for Modern British Studies.
  • Excellent reputation – the University of Birmingham has been ranked as one of the world's top 100 institutions to study History in the 2021 QS World University Rankings.
  • The city – one of the real strengths of studying Modern British Studies at Birmingham is the city itself. The Department has many links within the city for you to work with, you will have access to a range of fantastic libraries and collections and even the physical built environment of the city represents the history of modern Britain.
  • Join an active and vibrant department – you will have the opportunity to attend research seminars, conferences, and reading groups outside of your studies. 
  • Access to a wide range of 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.

Modules

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: 4,000 word review of approaches to one of the themes covered by the module in your own chosen historical field

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: 3,000-word literature review (75%), 10 minute oral presentation (25%)

New Directions in Modern British Studies

This module introduces some of the defining debates and moments in Modern British Studies. It offers the opportunity for you to work with a range of specialists from the History Department who will each week introduce key historical works which have stimulated new visions of the past and new ways of thinking about the practice of history. Alongside using these important texts to analyse how British society, culture, and politics has changed across the era spanning the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, we will consider how these scholars have approached and conceptualized this era, the subjects they have addressed, and the methods they have used. For instance, we will explore how hierarchical ideas about gender, race, ethnicity, and class shaped the lives of different historical subjects and consider too how these hierarchies have shaped Modern British Studies scholarship. Together, we will ask how we can best write histories going forward which are intellectually inclusive and create conversations that cut across regional, temporal and disciplinary boundaries. What should this kind of history take as its focus, subject matter, scope and methodology?
Assessment: 4000-word essay (100%)

Optional modules

If you choose to study the Modern British Studies pathway you must choose at least 20 credits from the Modern British Studies or Special Subject lists below. 

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

Modern British Studies 

  • Capital Lives: Experiencing the City in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth- Century Britain
  • Reason and Romance: The Cultural History of Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage? Gender and Sexual Minorities 1885 to the Present
  • ‘A Holiday from Reality’: A History of Drugs and Drug Use in the Modern Era
  • Britain’s Wars of Colonisation and Decolonisation
  • Sex and Sexualities in the Modern British World
  • Body Politics
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage? Gender and Sexual Minorities 1885 to the Present
  • Homelessness in Britain since 1945

Special Subjects

If you choose a Special Subject as an option, you must take two co-requisite modules to the total of 40 credits. Topics available in recent years have included:

  • Beauty, Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Body in Britain, c1680-1820: A
  • Beauty, Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Body in Britain, c1680-1820: B
  • Empire-wallahs: India in the British Imagination: A
  • Empire-wallahs: India in the British Imagination: B
  • British Women and Internationalism since 1850: A
  • British Women and Internationalism since 1850: 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.

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. 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.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2023 are as follows:

  • UK: £10,170 full-time; £5,085 part-time
  • International: £21,150 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 Modern British Studies, 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 3 July 2023. The deadline for UK students is Wednesday 31 August 2023.

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

Our Standard Requirements

You will need an Honours degree in a relevant subject, normally of an upper second-class standard.

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


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

Course delivery

We have two teaching semesters per year, the autumn semester and spring semester. Semester dates can be found on our website. 

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each semester, 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 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.

Over the past 5 years, 81% of History postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). 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.

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