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V1K707 Modern History MA Postgraduate Taught 2012


UCAS code V1K707
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year
Start Date 2012-10-01
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 6570

Course Content


The MA in Modern History is designed to introduce you to the advanced study of the Modern period.

The course explores issues of critical thinking, guided research through seminars and individual sessions, and independent learning. The Modern specialists in the Department offer a wide range of options and subject areas, with particular strengths in western European, British, United States, African and Chinese history. Within these areas of strength coverage is equally broad. Late modern Europeanists focus on the history of French social and political thought, the social and political history of Germany from the Weimar period to the present, Russian and Soviet history, the history of film and propaganda, sports, and environmental history. The Modern British historians specialise in intellectual history, the history of political thought, social and economic history, political history, and the cultural history of the post-Second World War period. Staff with US interests focus on the business history of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the role of US foreign policy in the Cold War period, and Native American history and the New Deal period. The Department's African specialists work on north-eastern African in the colonial and post-colonial periods. With the unique resource of the Library's Sudan Archive close to hand, the Department is the natural home for historical study of Sudan in particular; but staff have research expertise covering a wider region. Our modern Chinese historians specialise in social, gender and cultural history. Durham has a substantial and wide ranging collection of Chinese primary material dating from the eighteenth century as well as good holdings of secondary works. For the study of Modern History language courses (modern French and German) can also form part of the course.

Durham has substantial archival sources for research, from the Sudan Archive, to political papers, including the Early Grey Family Papers, as well as access to the collections of Ushaw College (the RC seminary in northern England since the early nineteenth century), and a range of online and micro-film resources.

Course Structure

The course consists of 180 credits, divided between modules, some of which are core, some of which are optional.

  • You must take two 15 credit core modules, and complete the 30 credit module, Issues in Modern History
  • You may then take an optional module for 30 credits from the list below
  • In addition you may take a skills module for 30 credits
  • With an optional module AND a skills module you then take a 60 credit dissertation
  • With an optional module ONLY you then take a 90 credit dissertation.

 Core Modules

  • Archives and Sources (15 credits)
  • Critical Practice (15 credits)
  • Issues in Modern History
  • Dissertation (60 credits or 90 credits).

Optional Modules

Modern optional modules are:

  • Tradition, Change and Political Culture in Modern Britain
  • Totalitarian Cultures? The Arts and Society in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany
  • Cultures of Consumption in Modern Europe
  • Race in Modern America
  • Tribe and Nation in Africa
  • Media, Culture and Society in Weimar and Nazi Germany
  • Modernity and Identity in Modern East Asia
  • Modernity, Religion and Identity (a Theology Dept module).

Other optional modules that can be taken are:

  •  The Anglo-Saxon World AD 400-1100
  • The Anglo-Norman World
  • Byzantium and the West, 300-1200
  • Power and Society in the Late Middle Ages
  • The Archaeology of the Book: Codicology and Culture from Antiquity to the Renaissance
  • Courts and Power in Early Modern Europe and the New World
  • Negotiating Life in the Early Modern World
  • Worship and Reform in Britain 1530-1662 (a Theology Dept module)
  • Gender, Medicine and Sexuality in Early Modern Europe
  • The Wealth of Nations
  • History and the Idea of Politics: 1500-1900.

Skills Modules that may be taken are:                                     

  • German Reading Skills for Research
  • French Reading Skills for Research. 

Teaching and assessment details

Assessment takes place within the constituent modules of the course, and is by a variety of methods dependent on the nature of the module.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

A 2.1 degree or equivalent in a relevant first degree.

English Language Requirements

IELTS of 7.0 (with no element under 6.5) or equivalent.

English Language requirements


Requirements and Admissions

You can apply to our postgraduate programmes via our online application process.

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Career Opportunities


For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and
details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Open days and visits

Campus tours

Are you interested in studying at Durham University? Then why not come along to one of our Campus Tours? They run regularly at Durham City and Queen's Campus, Stockton on Wednesday afternoons. For further information, please click here.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits

Department Information



The Department is ranked highly in national assessments of teaching and research. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise judged 60% of our research as internationally excellent or world-leading (3* and 4*). We are consistently ranked in the top three UK history departments by The Complete, indicating excellent University Guide levels of teaching provision and student satisfaction.

Durham is a thriving place to study History (as evidencedby theDepartment's consistently high ranking in research and student satisfaction surveys). We employ around 35 leading academics whose expertise stretches from early medieval to contemporary history, and crosses Africa, Britain and Europe, North America and China. We foster an active and lively research environment at both staff and postgraduate level, and for MA and PhD students alike.

The Department runs and participates in numerous seminar programmes and discussion groups which run throughout the academic year. These provide an excellent opportunity to share ideas within the Durham academic community with guest speakers from outside.

The taught Masters courses and research degree programmes provide a balance between guided and selfdirected study and research, tailored to the individual needs of students. Between the University Library and the Cathedral library, Durham holds a wealth of archival andmanuscriptmaterial (from the medieval and seventeenth century holdings to the Sudan Archive and other modern collections, for example the Earl Grey Family Papers). The Department works closely with library staff to ensure its research needs are met; library staff also provide specialist training in archival research and in the full range of resources, including electronic, available at Durham.


Teaching Staff

Dr Lawrence Black: focuses on modern British political and cultural history from the 1950s to the present.

Dr David Craig: specialises in the political culture and intellectual history of Britain since 1750.

Professor Ranald Michie: is an expert on modern financial history from a British and global perspective.

Dr Andrzej Olechnowicz: is a specialist the social and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, including the monarchy and notions of community.

Professor Philip Williamson: is an expert in twentieth-century British politics, political culture and government.

Dr Sarah Davies: specialises in the cultural, social and political history of the Soviet Union in the Stalin era (1920s-1953), including interests in visual culture.

Professor Jo Fox: is a specialist in the history of film and propaganda in twentieth-century Europe, especially documentary film.

Dr David Moon: researches in Russian and transnational environmental history, from the eighteenth-century to the present-day.

Dr Kay Schiller: is an expert in the political, intellectual and cultural history of Germany after 1918 and the history of sport in particular.

Dr Alastair Thompson: focuses on Wilhelmine and Weimar politics and society.

Dr Julian Wright: specialises in the history of French politics and political ideas under the Third Republic.

Professor Howell Harris: is an expert on the business, economic, labour and technological history of the USA.

Dr Gabriela Treglia: specialises in twentieth-century Native American socio-cultural history.

Dr Cherry Leonardi: specialises in African history with a particular research focus on South Sudan.

Professor Justin Willis: focuses on identity, authority and social change in eastern Africa over the last two hundred years. He is Head of the Department of History.

Professor Paul Bailey: specialises in the social and cultural history of modern China.


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