MA West Midlands History

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 provides an opportunity for study if you are interested in any aspect of the region such as, for example, religious change, the Civil War, industrialisation and women’s history. The course is delivered by Saturday schools and taught by leading scholars. Students come from many different backgrounds and previous 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.


Gill Marchment

MA alumna

“The MA in West Midlands History provides the opportunity to pursue a study of your local area, either for career purposes or, in my case, to enable my retirement to be more fulfilling.”

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.

Course content

You will study six core modules:

  •  People and Places in the West Midlands c. 1000-1500
  •  Reformation, Social Change and Civil War: The West Midlands in the 16th and 17th Centuries
  •  Transforming the Region:  Economy, Society and Politics in the West Midlands in the 18th and 19th Centuries
  •  Turmoil and Change: Economy, Society and Politics in the West Midlands in the 20th century
  •  Sources and Research Techniques for the History of the West Midlands in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods
  •  Sources and Research Techniques for the History of the West Midlands in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries

To achieve the MA, you will need to complete all of these elements, 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. 

Further module information is available below.


You will take three modules per year, each of which is assessed by a 4,000-word essay. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice, under the supervision of one of the members of the Centre, using the many archival resources available to the region.    

Why study this course

  • Research expertise - Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. 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 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.


Taught modules

You will study six core modules: 

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

This module studies aspects of West Midlands 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
Sources and Research Techniques for the History of the West Midlands in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries

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.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,625 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.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

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

Most students will have a good honours degree normally of an upper second-class standard or above, prior to entry. A history degree is not required. Alternatively appropriate professional qualifications and/or experience in high-level historical research are taken into account.  Each applicant is considered on their 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

International students requiring visas

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

UK/EU students

Please apply by Thursday 12 September 2019*. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

* Students applying on 12 September must submit their full application with all necessary documents in order to be considered for September 2019 entry. Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

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

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.

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 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.


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.