MA West Midlands History

Start date
2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Annual Tuition Fees for 2023:
UK: £5,085 part-time
More detail.

Have you ever wondered how the cities, towns and counties of the West Midlands developed? Do you want to find out about the changing experiences of local people and how they influenced the history of Britain as well as the region? 

Our part-time MA in West Midlands History is the only degree in the world to focus specifically on the History of the West Midlands. It provides an opportunity for study if you are interested in any aspect of the region such as, for example, political activity, industrialisation and women’s history as well as buildings, landscapes and localities.

The programme is broadly chronological and covers the history of the region from the 11th century to the end of the 20th. It does not aim for a complete century-by-century coverage but will allow you to gain a detailed knowledge of key aspects of social, political, industrial, religious and cultural history.

The programme interprets the West Midlands to include the historic counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire although it also touches on adjacent counties as well.

As well as delving deep in to the history of the region, it also provides a distinctive overview of British history over a thousand years as the programme relates to national developments in British History, such as Black Death, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution.

The course is delivered by Saturday schools and taught by leading scholars. Students come from many different backgrounds and previous academic knowledge of history is not required. It is suitable for recent graduates and those who are retired, semi-retired, experience disabilities or have family and work commitments which make full-time study difficult.


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

As my passion is industrial history, the MA West Midlands History offered me the opportunity to learn about and research into the development of the West Midlands as an industrial powerhouse. The regional concentration allows in-depth analyses, providing invaluable insights that are typically overlooked when studying at a national level.

Debbie Chawner, MA West Midlands History Student

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. The programme is also delivered through the Centre for West Midlands History, which promotes: research into the history of the West 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 - day schools for the public, seminars, conferences, 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 their knowledge and exchange ideas on the history of the region.  The Centre also works with other organisations to create research projects.  There is an active Friends' organisation which provides a forum for communication for all of those with an interest in the history of the West Midlands. 
  • 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 West 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 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, 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 include:

People and Places in the West Midlands c. 1000-1500

This module studies aspects of social, cultural and economic history during medieval times. Subjects include rural and urban settlements, castles and fortifications; the Black Death, social hierarchies and divisions, religion, standards of living, crime and the transition from feudalism to capitalism.   
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Reformation, Social Change and Civil War: The West Midlands in the 16th and 17th Centuries

This module will allow you to explore the Reformation of the sixteenth century and its impact on counties and towns. This will be followed by the study of the English Civil War and its significance. Aspects of the material culture of the region will also be considered.  
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Transforming the Region:  Economy, Society and Politics in the West Midlands in the 18th and 19th Centuries

This module explores the history of the West Midlands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by focussing on the economic, political, social and cultural history of areas such as Birmingham, the Black Country, the Ironbridge Gorge, the Potteries and Wyre Forest. Social history themes include anti-slavery and the history of women and children. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay  

Turmoil and Change: Economy, Society and Politics in the West Midlands in the 20th century

Some of the themes are: the changes that have taken place in the region's communities during the century; the regional economy, urban growth, housing, politics, migration women and education.    
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Sources and Research Techniques for the History of the West Midlands in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

The aim of these two modules is to explore the range of archival, visual and printed sources available for local study and consider different approaches to historical study. They will also help in developing skills which are helpful for working on your dissertation.  One of these modules is taught each year. Each module includes a full-day field trip.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay for each module


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.


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

  • UK: £5,085 part-time

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.

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

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 31 August 2023.

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

Most students who begin the MA will have a good honours degree, but many professional qualifications are relevant alternatives. A history degree is not required prior to entry. A high standard of written English and willingness to read and research are essential requirements. Many students have engaged in historical research and this evidence of interest and commitment is an important part of assessment and each applicant is considered 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 West Midlands History, which promotes research into the history of the West 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 in the field.

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 are pursued 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.  

Each module represents up to 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, assignment preparation, and attending Saturday 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 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).

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.

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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