History MA

Postgraduate (12 months full-time, part-time)


September 2018, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time


Explore contrasting periods of history using different historical and interdisciplinary approaches that will develop your critical awareness and research skills. Become a true historian, able to sustain arguments and solve problems, with a richer understanding of how history is communicated to the wider public, and how it helps us address present-day issues.

Full description


The skills you develop on our MA History will transfer across a range of careers, as well as providing a gateway to PhD research.

By exploring how to make the past available to a wider public, you will open up careers in the heritage industry, archives and museums.

You will also become an independent learner, able to manage your own projects and research in a confident and flexible manner, devise and sustain arguments and solve problems successfully.

Such skills are transferable to careers in teaching, business, journalism, television, radio, the music industry, arts administration, digital media, gallery work, fundraising, personnel work, publishing, librarianship, marketing, local authority work, publicity, social work, tourism and IT-related industries.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Major Project
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Masters dissertation, allowing you to explore in-depth a particular topic that reflects your academic interest.
  • Public History
    On this module, you will look at the practical and theoretical issues involved in the presentation of history to a wide public. Devised in collaboration with local museums, heritage and broadcasting groups, your taught sessions will be delivered by ARU staff with a significant contribution from outside speakers and specialist partners and practitioners. The module consists of two distinct halves. On the first, you will consider history in the context of museums, covering the development of museums and their relation to their historical and social context; examining how display and exhibition themes are researched, items are selected and exhibitions are planned and mounted, as well as considering some of the ethical and culturally sensitive issues involved in displaying historical artefacts. On the second, you will consider the different ways history has been presented on radio and television, the role of researchers and presenters, and the tensions between the demands of the medium and those of the subject. You will also explore controversies over the use of re-enactment and archive film as well as different interpretations of the past. You will be encouraged and supported to conduct your own analysis and evaluation of current museum displays and broadcasts, and will have the opportunity to research and plan your own museum exhibition, and/or to research and draft your own scripts for broadcast. You will attend weekly taught sessions, and be assessed by a report on your proposed exhibition or a script for your proposed radio or television History programme.

Optional modules

  • Consumption and the World of Goods, 1550-1780
    On this module you will investigate changes in consumption and material culture between 1550 and 1780, a period controversially described as ‘revolutionary’ in the development of modern attitudes and practices. You will explore the changing nature of consumption in England, particularly in relation to food, dress and housing, focusing on the adoption of new commodities, along with changes in housing and retail spaces, to critically explore whether, by the 18th century, such changes constituted a 'consumer revolution'. Drawing on key theoretical literature about the significance of consumption in modern life, you will critically evaluate whether it is relevant to early modern developments, as well as surveying the new and exciting field of historiography in early modern consumption and working with a wide range of primary source material and material culture. You will consider how exotic new goods were marketed and acquired by consumers; how and why new patterns of consumption were adopted, and by whom, with an emphasis on the use of consumer goods in the construction of ‘national’, social and gender identities in England.
  • A History of Race, Racism and Resistance in Modern Britain
    On this module you will explore the history of race, racism and the resistances to racism in modern Britain, starting with early definitions of ‘race’ and the rise of ‘scientific racism’ in the late eighteenth century. You will then examine slavery in the British West Indies, the slave resistances and the British abolitionist movement, which is less known than that of the US. This will be followed by a session on the role of the British Empire and its impact on Britain in terms of racialised ideology, while in subsequent sessions you will address race as constructed, contested and lived in Britain: the black and Asian presence pre-world war 1, interwar and 2nd world war, as well as the influence of ideas about race, sexuality eugenics and anti-Semitism; the Windrush generation, black politics and anti-racism of the 1920s to 1980s, including black feminism, rock against racism, and anti-fascism. You will also consider the history of mixed-race relationships in Britain as well as 'mixed-race' as a 21st century identity, finally scrutinising 'whiteness' as a racial and privileged identity. Your coursework will incorporate research methods by giving you opportunities to visit selected art galleries and museums or employ newspapers in order to search for, decode and decipher representations of race. The module will be delivered by weekly taught sessions and assessed by a research essay and a short presentation report.
  • Making the Modern World, 1979-1999
    On this module you will examine the main themes in world history in the 1980s and 1990s, when the foundations of the modern, globalising world were being laid down. You will critically assess the breakdown of the state-led economic model adopted after the Second World War and consider the development of the more globalised system that replaced it. You will also examine what globalisation meant in reality, as changes in technology drove the new consumerism but also contributed to deindustrialisation, and consider how the changes in capitalism influenced the political left as socialist and communist parties across the world turned to market-based ideas and policies. With a focus on the 'third wave of democracy', which saw apparently stable regimes such as Pinochet's Chile and Botha's South Africa fall, you will consider how these factors fed into and influenced the late Cold War years. You will also explore how the 1980s was a transformative but incomplete decade, with the new ideas introduced by New Right politicians not being completely established until the 1990s, when 'Third Way' politics were developed and neoliberalism was victorious both at home and abroad. You will be taught through weekly sessions with an emphasis on building your individual understanding of the key themes of the period as well as encouraging teamwork and oral skills through group discussion and group work. You will develop analytical skills through the investigation of documentary material (identified in the 'accessible archives' seminar) from the Thatcher, Kinnock, Reagan or Clinton papers (for example), and be expected to bring a particular document to class to discuss. Your assessment will comprise two essays of 3,000 words, one on the 1980s and one on the 1990s, with at least two of the archival collections used for each essay.


You will encounter a range of assessment methods on the course, including essays, reports, source analysis and assessed presentations.  These will allow you to engage with the ideas and knowledge taught on each module, but also to think about how History is changing.

The assessment for each module will require you to undertake original research using the particular research methods built into it.

Some modules include innovative assessment methods. On 'Public History', you can research and write your own television or radio history programme, or plan out a museum exhibition. On 'A History of Race', you will visit galleries and museums to analyse and decode images of race. These different assessment methods will help prepare you for working in media, journalism, museums and the heritage industry.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences is an academic community of nearly 800 students and teaching staff. Our students are supported by leading practitioners, so you'll always have access to the latest theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as invaluable career advice. Subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences lead to work in many roles you might not have considered, maybe as a politician, chief executive – or even an inventor.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for their future, like work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Research resources

Our library in Cambridge hold a substantial collection of resources including books, e-books, journals, databases, CDs and DVDs, as well as a History subject page developed by our dedicated History librarian.

It also subscribes to a number of specialist databases including:

  • Art & Humanities Full Text
  • Project Muse
  • Time Digital Archive
  • JISC Historical Text (January 2017)
  • British Periodicals I and II

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


UK & EU students, 2019/20 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2019/20 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (part-time, per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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