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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.
- Join a Masters course built on the expertise of our BA (Hons) History (95% for ‘Satisfied with Teaching,’ The Guardian University Guide 2018) and our History research (world-leading status, Research Excellence Framework 2014)
- Benefit from our links with local organisations, including the Cambridgeshire Collection and Imperial War Museum, Duxford
- Extend your mastery of the top two most required skills for 2020*: complex problem solving and critical thinking (World Economic Forum)
- Prepare for your career with innovative assessment methods such as researching and writing radio programmes and planning exhibitions
On our MA History, you will learn to critically examine different periods of history – including social, cultural, political and public history – and conduct original research at both local and global levels.
Each module (including the final major project) will introduce you to new research methods and the analytical questions that go with them. This will allow you to develop an understanding of the problems inherent in the historical record, such as the many contrasting viewpoints, and give you the means to test them effectively.
As well as using both digital and archival resources, you will develop the skills required to critically engage with non-textual historical documents such as artefacts and visual sources as presented by museums, film, or artwork.
You will then, through a series of workshops, choose a topic for your major project that calls upon the research methods you have learned and your awareness of the relevant historical concepts. By the end of the course, you will have acquired and demonstrated the skillset of a genuine historian – not just an antiquarian.
Your theoretical studies will be enhanced through our links with many local bodies, archives, libraries and organisations, including the Cambridgeshire Collection; the Thatcher and Kinnock archives at Churchill College; Imperial War Museum (Duxford); and Cambridge University Press. Through these, you will have the opportunity to engage and network with specialists, practitioners, agencies and institutions at events such as guest lectures, study trips and research projects.
You will also be part of a dynamic and rich academic environment, including a lively post-graduate community, with its own seminars and workshops that cover aspects of historical research. Your studies will be supported by expert academic staff including Professor Rohan McWilliam (Victorian studies; modern British and US history; popular culture), Professor Lucy Bland (eugenics, race and gender; British feminism), Dr Jonathan Davis (the Soviet Union), Dr Richard Carr (modern British history) and Dr Sean Lang (the First World War; British Imperialism).
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
Major ProjectThis 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 HistoryOn 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.
Histories of Emotions 1100-1850This module explores the history of emotions from the medieval period to the modern. It will introduce you to cutting edge developments in cultural history, setting emotions history alongside spatial, material, and sensory histories. You will examine the key theoretical debates in the history of emotions, including theoretical approaches and questions about chronology, change, and continuity over the long duree. You will also investigate how historians of emotions use source materials including, amongst others, material objects, intellectual treatises, newspapers, and court records. To do this you will track shifts in the emotions across a number of key themes including belief and religion; war and violence, age and gender; politics and power; crime and punishment; and medicine and science. The last session of the term will draw this altogether and you will directly engage with and formulate new ideas about how histories of emotions might rewrite the traditional chronological boundaries of the medieval, the early modern, and the modern.
A History of Race, Racism and Resistance in Modern BritainOn 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, 1979-1999On 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.