History - MA
Our MA in History offers you the opportunity to advance your explorations of History in a supported and structured programme of study. The broad and comprehensive expertise of our world-leading historians – ranging in time from the Middle Ages to the recent past, and in place from the local Potteries to continental Europe, the US, South Asia and Africa – offers a wide scope for your research pursuits. Developing as a researcher and communicator, you will enjoy support from a passionate and collaborative community, and you will also benefit from access to extensive digital, material and archival research resources.
Month of entry
Mode of study
- Full time, Part time
Fees for 2023 entry
- UK - Full time £8,900 per year. Part time £4,900 per year.
International - £17,700 per year.
Duration of study
- Full time - 1 year, Part time - 2 years
Why study History at Keele University?
On Keele’s MA in History, you’ll delve into the politics, culture, economics, crime and governance of past societies – from as far back as the Middle Ages to the present day – examining the motivations and behaviour of individuals and societies when organising life materially and conceptually, individually and collectively.
History at Keele offers the chance to join an active, dedicated department of educators and researchers who are internationally recognised leaders in their fields, committed to pastoral care and personalised learning.
We offer a collegial community which benefits from smaller class sizes, allowing you to foster close relationships with colleagues and peers, while supporting you to undertake the highest quality historical research. You’ll deepen your knowledge of research design, methods and processes, learning how to use real-world and digital archives, while enhancing your analytical, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Staff expertise spans the medieval period to the present day, and geographically covering the entire globe, with particular expertise in Britain, Europe, South Asia, South Africa, and the US.
Optional modules provide an opportunity to learn a language, explore palaeography, enrol in an interdisciplinary module outside of the School of Humanities, or complete a work placement, using our contacts or through your own networks here in the UK or abroad. In the past, students within the School have helped staged exhibitions, catalogued an archive, reviewed educational material and reflected on the selection of historical textbooks in a school.
On graduation, you will be equipped to excel in any career which values critical thinking, communications skills, and the gathering, assessment and analysis of data and evidence. Our students have gone on to work in law, teaching, libraries, archives, museums, the civil service, journalism, politics, research for charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government bodies, think tanks, broadcasting, advertising, or continued research at PhD level.
Other courses you might be interested in:
The principal purpose of the MA in History at Keele is to familiarise you with a variety of historical periods, historiographical perspectives and approaches. The range of material covered within the programme extends in chronological terms from the Middle Ages to the present day, and offers a broad geographical coverage from Britain to Europe, South Asia, Africa and the United States.
We also place great emphasis upon exploring the insights offered by other disciplines, such as Psychology, Politics and English, as well as using a variety of methods and techniques for studying historical, historiographical and methodological issues.
The MA provides an opportunity to develop your interdisciplinary skills and undertake wide-ranging, systematic training in research skills, producing original research within your discipline and the Humanities more generally under the supervision of specialised scholars. You’ll develop practical, project management, analytical and critical research skills, relevant in almost any profession.
The MA History can be studied as either a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course, with a September start date.
You will complete 180 credits to obtain the master’s qualification, comprising three core and two optional choices, together with the Dissertation, which is studied throughout the duration of the course.
HIS-40002 Approaches to Historical Research (30 credits, Semester 1)
This module introduces different approaches to the research and writing of history. It aims to broaden your understanding of debates on the status of historical knowledge and provide conceptual and other tools for your own research work. You will consider two broad questions to help you plan and prepare your dissertation: What methodological approach may best suit my project? What, if any, theories may suit my project? Throughout, you’ll be encouraged to reflect on the relevance of the material under consideration to their own research topic, examining the sources and resources available to you.
HIS-40017 Research Skills in the Humanities (15 credits, Semester 1)
You will receive training in the practical and technical skills necessary for postgraduate research in the humanities, so you will be able to plan, then find and use the necessary resources for your research and writing. This includes: relevant University regulations; procedures for managing a research degree; the differences between popular press dissemination of research and academic forms; how to identify issues of research ethic affecting your work; and how to use real-world and digital archives and be creative in looking for primary research sources, such as film archives, digitised magazines and pamphlets, first editions of out of print literature. You will also develop essential personal and professional skills in time, stress and project management.
HIS-40016 Reflective Practice in the Humanities (15 credits, Semester 2)
Reflective practice describes a systematic approach to reflection that involves creating a habit, structure and routine around reflecting on our experiences and engaging in continuous learning. Whether you choose to learn from experience as an individual or with others, there are many benefits to be gained from sharing ideas, experiences and considering how you can change or improve your creative practice. Throughout this module, you will be asked to explore the intellectual connections between your research area and wider fields of study. We look at ‘big ideas’ relevant to contemporary society, such as the concept of ‘post truth’, ‘big data’ and the pulling down of statues, and we work to understand them from the perspective of our disciplines.
HIS-40028 Dissertation (60 credits, studied throughout the course)
Guided by extensive one-to-one supervision from a world leading expert in your field, you will research, plan and write a substantial piece of independent historical research. The module builds upon generic and subject-specific research skills acquired in accompanying modules to communicate the methods, results and conclusions on the research project. The final dissertation is 15,000 words, excluding footnotes, bibliography and annexes. Previous students have, for example, researched: 'Motown and Stax in the American Black Freedom Struggle, 1960-72'; 'Reformation to Repression: German Penal System, 1928-1945'; 'Agency and "Alternative" Relationships in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries'; and 'The Role of Empire in the British Union of Fascists'.
You will study two optional modules from the following, studying one in each of the first two semesters. Please note that optional modules are based on individual staff specialisms and so change each year. This is an indicative list from recent years.
ENG-40057 Work Placement for Humanities Postgraduates (30 credits)
This module is designed to give you an opportunity to contribute to the world beyond the University, in any workplace where the research, analytical, and communication skills developed as part of a postgraduate Humanities degree can be used. The chosen workplace may be, for example, a local museum, theatre, charity, library, school or education provider, marketing company, PR firm, local newspaper, local radio, or another suitable opportunity identified by you and approved by the module leader. While on the placement, you will produce a theoretically informed portfolio critically reflecting on and giving evidence of the activities/outputs completed at your chosen workplace. These may include, for example, researching and producing materials advertising or supporting current or proposed exhibits or performances, researching and producing written or audio pieces, and/or planning small-group educational activities on Humanities-related topics. Advice will be given on identifying and contacting placements and composing a CV in semester 1, and support will be provided throughout the placement, which will usually take place in Semester 2.
HIS-40080, Subject Specialism I (30 credits, Semester 1)
HIS-40082, Subject Specialism II (30 credits, Semester 2)
If you prefer, you can use your optional module choices to dive deeper into a particular historical period, topic or theme which interests you over the course of two semesters. Modified third-year undergraduate modules provide a structured learning environment in which you will undertake detailed specific analysis.* Subject specialism modules are normally recommended if they relate to your specific dissertation topic, if you are returning to higher education after a long absence, or if your earlier degree (or equivalent) was in a different discipline. Full details of all modules available will be provided in the Course Handbook, but please see some options below:
HIS-30134 The Making of Middle Britain: A Northumbrian Nativity (30 credits)
During the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries Britain was dominated by two rival kingdoms: Northumbria and Mercia. This period witnessed the ascendency of a new aristocracy, with both secular and religious faces, which would reshape the landscape of early medieval Britain and become a dynamic part of a broader northwest-European culture. You will study Bede’s Ecclesiastical History and other contemporary works, analysing the formation of the literate culture in which they were created. The hybridity of Northumbria’s historic landscape, its suspension between Irish, British, Anglian and Frankish realms, will form an important theme.
HIS 30132: The Art of Dying: Death and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (30 Credits)
'Dying well' was a fundamental concern for all in medieval and early modern Europe, but what did that mean? This module will explore the history of death in medieval and early modern Europe from c. 1000 to c. 1750. If our society has what Geoffrey Gorer has called a 'pornography of death', whereby all practices surrounding death should be done out of public view, just like sexual pornography, it is important to understand how public death and dying were in medieval and early modern Europe. The module takes a comparative approach, comparing and contrasting ways of dying, burial, attitudes to good and bad death, especially suicide, expectations of the afterlife, and the experience of famine and plague, in medieval and early modern Europe. The ways in which a society treated death reveals a great deal about its assumptions and ideas, and so this module offers a fascinating insight into the social, religious and cultural history of a world which is very different from our own.
HIS-30130: Sites of Sexual Conflict in South Asia (30 credits)
If I was to say sex and South Asia what comes to mind? Do you think of the Kama Sutra, an ancient sex manual? Do you see a place where four countries have been led by women or do you see South Asian women as victims: of rape, honour killings and forced marriages? Did you know that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have all been led, at some time in recent history, by women? Both images are accurate to a degree and have deep roots in the colonial past before 1947 and in the recent history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This module will study a series of sites where sexuality has been constructed, defined, changed and debated in the Indian sub-continent. We will focus specifically at the way ancient sexual images have been looked at and described and used historically, how does contemporary India deal with nudity? We will look at female spaces, the harem, the zenana, the brothel, the family home and examine power dynamics and representations of each one. And we'll look at sexuality and the law, famous obscenity trials, the colonial law against homosexuality that was just overturned only a few years ago and the attempts by the governments of South Asia to control who people choose as their sexual partners.
HIS-30086 The English Civil War, c.1640-46 (30 credits)
The English civil war was one of the most dramatic events in English history, retaining its hold today over both popular and scholarly imaginations. Many issues of the period - such as the nature of the relationship between England, Scotland, and Ireland, the character of the political process, or what to do about the monarchy - find echoes today. This special subject will seek to explore the character and events of the first civil war in England from the collapse of the king's authority in 1640 to the end of the first civil war in 1646. Topics to be covered will include the causes of the war; the development of Royalist and Parliamentarian parties; the military course of the first civil war; the impact of the war on society; the diversity of religious beliefs; and the political fragmentation of the Parliamentarian cause.
HIS-30127 Gender and Sexuality in Georgian Britain (30 credits)
Georgian Britain presents us with a fascinating paradox. Satirical prints and novels from the period present spectacles of rumbustious, drunken and lusty lives but, at the same time, the UK was developing as a serious-minded imperial and trading power. In this module, you will look at the way in which libertine and reformist traditions battled over the roles of men and women and the degree to which their identities and desires should be regulated in public and in private. Pioneering calls for women's rights and early justifications of proto-homosexual behaviour co-existed with vicious judicial enforcement of often antiquated moral legislation. It provides an opportunity to study the century during which modern constructions of gender and sexuality, with which we live today, were taking shape.
HIS-30145 Extinction: Existential Panic since 1945 (30 credits)
1945 marked a watershed moment in both human and Earth history. For the first time, a single species had the potential to destroy not just its own global population, but that of all other living things as well. Yet over the next half-century, scientists, environmentalists and industrialists managed to identify a seemingly endless list of other existential threats to life on Earth. Many of these - DDT, nuclear winter, global warming, Ozone depletion - were clearly anthropogenic. Others - asteroids, volcanoes, magnetic field reversal - were not. This module will seek to contextualise the existential crises that shaped the late-twentieth century, understand their interrelatedness, and question both their languages and the solutions offered, to better appreciate and understand the complexity of the challenges facing the world today.
HIS-30128 Crisis, Rupture, and Opportunity: German 'Modernity', 1900-1933 (30 credits)
This module provides a new perspective on German history, one before National Socialism. Moving away from a common focus on Nazi Germany, the Holocaust and imperial history, you will instead explore German reactions to the many manifestations of 'high modernity' between 1900 and 1933. Exploring sources of cultural history, you will investigate the options available to men and women of the time, when the 'old' and the 'new' were juxtaposed in many areas of life, including religion, consumption, psychology, aesthetics, the body and national belonging.
HIS-30110 The Making of Contemporary Africa I (30 credits)
Can a continent possess 'a history' or 'a people'? To what extent are ideas of Africa and Africans still tied to race and other colonial legacies? To understand the ways we imagine Africa today, this module examines the cultural, political and economic dialogues which took place regarding Africa c.1945 to the present. While the main focus will be on English-language primary sources and former British colonies, there will also be a chance to compare different colonial legacies within Africa. You will have a chance to read the works of: Leopold Senghor, Kwame Nkrumah, Frantz Fanon, Steven Biko, Nelson Mandela, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Julius Nyerere, Walter Rodney, George Padmore, and recent works by people like C N Adichie and Thabo Mbeki.
HIS-30101 From Sawbones to Social Hero? Doctors and medicine 1808-1886 (30 credits)
In 1808, the medical profession was largely unregulated and was compelled to diagnose and treat patients without anaesthetic, lacking stethoscopes, and unaware of the existence of germs. By 1886, access to the profession was closely monitored, anaesthetic was routinely administered, and Lister's work on aseptic surgery was being accepted. This was a period of scientific change and professional consolidation with enormous significance for the ways doctors related to patients and the ways the sick formed expectations of their medical practitioners. Analysing aspects of the social history of medicine in 19th century England, you will consider the development of medical relationships from the 1808 County Asylums Act up to the Medical Registration Amendment Act of 1886.
AMS-30035: 'Eyes on the Prize': The Struggle for Civil Rights in America (30 credits)
This module allows students to study one of the most dramatic processes to shape the modern United States: the struggle for African American civil rights. From a South blighted by Jim Crow segregation and lynching to today's America, where equality before the law has been achieved but racial fissures remain, we will assess the aims and achievements of black leadership, and the contribution of ordinary men and women, black and white, northern and southern, to re-shaping American society through activism. The module also addresses the relationship between mainstream civil rights activism and more radical protest that became increasingly prominent as the 1960s progressed.
* Please note, if you were an undergraduate at Keele, you may not take a module which overlaps with your third year special subject.
Academic entry requirements:
This degree is designed for those individuals with a first or upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in History or other relevant subject). Applicants with other qualifications or experience are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Programme Director.
English language entry requirement for international students:
IELTS 6.5. The University also accepts a range of internationally recognised English tests.
If you do not meet the English language requirements, the University offers a range of English language preparation programmes.
During your degree programme you can study additional English language courses. This means you can continue to improve your English language skills and gain a higher level of English.
Planning your funding
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in this case, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our scholarships and bursaries webpage for more information.
Undertaking this MA and its accompanying original research will enable you to further develop your intellectual, personal and professional capabilities.
The broad range of skills and knowledge acquired include clear and analytical thinking, originality, problem-solving, persuasive writing and speaking, innovative questioning and effective reasoning. These are valuable within a wide range of careers, most notably teaching, professional research, museums or archives, public policy and project management.
You will be equipped to excel in any role which values critical thinking, communications skills, and the gathering, assessment and analysis of data and evidence, working across the public, voluntary or private sector, for example, in the civil service, for NGOs, think tanks or research institutes.
The programme also provides an excellent foundation for further research, doctoral (PhD) training and academia, with support available for CV-building and PhD applications.
Our alumni go into a wide variety of professions, such as radio, journalism, teaching, archives, museums, politics, law, orchestras, music theatre houses, multimedia arts, advertising, and accounting.
Positions may include:
- Business analyst
- Civil servant
- Development officer
- Human resources officer
- Local government officer
- Marketing executive
- Policy officer
- Recruitment consultant
- Social researcher
Teaching, learning and assessment
How you'll be taught
With smaller-sized classes, our ethos is very much about learning co-operatively and supportively in a friendly, nurturing environment, sharing and debating your ideas with tutors and peers.
Typically, the taught elements of the course includes a combination of taught classes, lectures, seminars, large and small group work and guided independent study, alongside one-on-one supervision.
This course is best suited for those who wish, for a variety of reasons, to have structured classroom guidance during their studies, or for those wanting more support for planning their dissertation research project.
As a postgraduate student, you are also able to attend the programme's research seminar series, which will enable you to become involved in the School's research culture. Past seminars have included: 'The (Re-)Shaping of the Church’s Political Character: An Historical Perspective through the Lens of Canon Law’, 'Political Androgyny: Radical Resistance to the Gender Binary, 1820-1850’ and ‘Mexican Immigration and American Nativists' Attempts to Fortify the U.S. Border in the 1920s’.
You will be encouraged to attend and participate in our programme of academic research seminars and conferences and become involved in Work in Progress seminars specifically tailored to doctoral and students’ presentations. Many of our postgraduates get involved in organising and attending conferences and research events, which gives you a well-rounded experience of academia for those considering this career.
How you’ll be assessed
Assessment on the course is designed to develop the research and communication skills necessary to complete a substantial dissertation. Conducted through coursework and (in some cases) individual presentations, this is achieved through a variety of different methods:, short and long essays; annotated bibliographies; project outlines; reflective study diaries; and the dissertation.
You’ll be encouraged to attend dissertation workshops to develop writing skills, write reports of any research seminars you attend, and present your research proposals within your discipline cohort and to the wider humanities community in our annual research symposia.
Keele Postgraduate Association
Keele University is one of a handful of universities in the UK to have a dedicated students' union for postgraduate students. A fully registered charity, Keele Postgraduate Association serves as a focal point for the social life and welfare needs of all postgraduate students during their time at Keele.
Hugely popular, the KPA Clubhouse (near Horwood Hall) provides a dedicated postgraduate social space and bar on campus, where you can grab a bite to eat and drink, sit quietly and read a book, or switch off from academic life at one of the many regular events organised throughout the year. The KPA also helps to host a variety of conferences, as well as other academic and career sessions, to give you and your fellow postgraduates the opportunities to come together to discuss your research, and develop your skills and networks.
The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is the largest of the three Faculties at Keele University. Our research and teaching focus on many and varied dimensions of human experience and on the full range of cultural, economic and social challenges we face in a fast-changing world. We draw on our progressive heritage to promote theoretically inventive scholarship that has the potential to transform the ways in which we engage with one another as human beings in contexts ranging from the local to the global.
With expertise in medieval, early modern and modern history, we are particularly interested in local history, the history of political violence, social movements, gender, religion and print culture. Research themes include: Local and Public History; American History; Religion; European History; Empire and Postcolonial; Gender and Sexuality; 20th Century Political History.
The David Bruce Centre for American Studies is an internationally recognised centre for the study of the United States, which supports seminars, conferences, colloquia, occasional lectures and small exhibits, and encourages postgraduate study by means of scholarships and research grants.
Teaching team includes:
All current teaching staff within the History programme are involved in the MA, and your supervisor will have expertise in the area in which you are interested. For current staff and their interests, see the School of Humanities webpages.
The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences fosters a high quality, supportive and managed research environment for both individual researchers and teams of collaborative researchers, including postgraduate researchers in the Humanities.
The School of Humanities itself delivers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in the discipline areas of English Literature/Creative Writing, Film Studies, History, Media and Communications and Music Production and Sound Design.
As well as traditional teaching spaces offering easy access to lecture and seminar rooms, library facilities and computer laboratories as appropriate, we also have an impressive range of specialist creative facilities.
You’ll also be studying at a University where you can immerse yourself in a wide range of creative and cultural events and societies, courtesy of ArtsKeele, giving you access to valuable networks of professional contacts. The fortnightly Keele Hall Readings, for instance, last year featured acclaimed writer Okechukwu Nzelu, whose first book won a Betty Trask Award, and Caleb Parkin, self-proclaimed 'day-glo queero techno eco poet and facilitator'.
Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminars
The Work in Progress Seminars series is often the first experience of academic presentation for our students. It provides a supportive, but rigorous (i.e. genuinely academic) environment in which to present your research, and you should not be shy of presenting pieces of research that are actually ‘work in progress’ because these seminars are an excellent way to get feedback. Seminars are given by individual researchers roughly once a month, and attendance at them is an important part of the social routine for Postgraduate students at Keele.