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V1K607 Early Modern History MA Postgraduate Taught 2015


UCAS code V1K607
Degree MA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time)
Start Date 06-10-2015
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 2995

Course Content


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

The course explores issues of critical thinking, guided research through seminars and individual sessions, and independent learning. The coverage of subject and area is broad, from Europe to colonial America, from religious and political thought to architectural, medical and social history, from the court of Elizabeth I to the study of diplomacy and emotion. Durham's early modern specialists include experts in archival sources and material and visual culture. Durham's early modern specialists include British, European and Chinese historians, as well as experts in archival sources and material culture. The Early Modern History MA will allow you to engage directly with a wide variety of approaches to the discipline, from the archaeological, to the study of political discourse, art historical methodologies and economic history. You will have the opportunity to develop the technical skills for study of the Early Modern period with courses in Palaeography that include Early Modern documentation and hand-writing. Language courses (Latin, Greek; modern French and German) can also form part of the course.

Durham is exceptionally well served for Early Modern resources with the manuscript collections and archives of the Cathedral Priory and Diocese of Durham, as well as the documentary holdings and collections of papers within the University Library. Bishop's Cosin's library, now part of the University collections, includes a collection of French and English early printed books. The MA in Early Modern History will open your experience to all of these.

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 Early 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 Early Modern History
  • Dissertation (60 credits or 90 credits).

Optional Modules

Early Modern optional modules are:

  • Courts and Power in Early Modern Europe
  • Negotiating Life in the Early Modern World
  • Gender, Medicine and Sexuality in Early Modern Europe*
  • The Idea of Politics
  • The Wealth of Nations

Other optional modules that can be taken are:

  • The Anglo-Saxon World AD 400-1100
  • The Anglo-Norman World*
  • Power and Society in the Late Middle Ages
  • The Archaeology of the Book: Codicology and Culture from Antiquity to the Renaissance*
  • Tradition, Change and Political Culture in Modern Britain
  • Cultures of Consumption in Modern Europe*
  • Race in Modern America
  • Gender, Nationalism and Modernity in East Asia
  • 'Tribe' and Nation in Africa
  • Interpretations of Terror and Genocide in Modern Europe.
*Modules marked with an asterisk are unavailable 2014-2015.

Skills Modules that may be taken are:

  • Palaeography: Scribes, Script and History from Antiquity to the Renaissance
  • Latin for Research
  • Greek for Research
  • Old Norse
  • German Reading Skills for Research
  • French Reading Skills for Research.

Learning and Teaching

The MA programme in History offers higher-level students opportunities to develop advanced research skills, to broaden and deepen their subject knowledge, and to develop skills in time management and effective use of resources. The programme stresses independent learning, leading up to the writing of a dissertation. The MA programme is flexible and responsive to student choice and preference, as well as delivering core and compulsory training in historical study.

The programme is delivered primarily through small group seminar teaching with some larger classes, and lecture-style sessions. These teaching methods are common to all three courses, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern. Students take two compulsory modules, an optional module, and may take a skills or language module as well. If the latter is taken they complete a 60 credit dissertation; if not, a 90 credit dissertation.

Termly division of contact hours between terms depends on student choice. All students take Issues in Medieval/Early Modern/Modern History in the first term, with 16 contact hours, all classroom-based. Issues modules are team-taught, and expose students to a wide variety of staff support and expertise. Additionally the first half of Historical Research Methods (called Archives and Sources) is taken in this term, giving 8 hours of contact, split between lectures, classes and seminars. This module is convened by the MA Director. Language courses run through Terms 1 and 2, as do some optional modules that contribute to interdisciplinary programmes. Language courses are more contact hour intensive. Optional modules provide a total of 16 contact hours and are seminar taught. These are for the most part taken in Term 2, along with the second half of Historical Research Methods (called Critical Practice). Critical Practice involves lectures and group presentation, and is assessed by oral presentation in a mini-conference. Dissertation supervision involves 8 hours of directed supervision, individually with a dedicated supervisor. This begins in Term 2 and continues into Term 3 and the summer session. 

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

A good 2.1 or GPA of 3.5, or equivalent. A first degree in History or a related subject is required.

English Language requirements

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

Requirements and Admissions

The University accepts the following alternative English language tests and scores.

Fees and Funding

Fees shown are for one year. Total fee will depend on the length of your programme. All fees are subject to annual increases. For more information please visit the Tuition Fees page

EU student fees


Home student fees


Islands student fees


International non-EU student fees


Scholarships and funding

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

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits

Department Information



The Department is ranked highly in national assessments of teaching and research. We are consistently ranked in the top three UK history departments by The Complete University Guide, indicating excellent University Guide levels of teaching provision and student satisfaction.

Durham is a thriving place to study History (as evidenced by the Department'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 self-directed study and research, tailored to the individual needs of students. Between the University Library and the Cathedral library, Durham holds a wealth of archival and manuscript material (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 Alex Barber: specialises in early modern British history with a particular focus on the intersections between intellectual and religious culture and on the transmission of ideas.

Professor Chris Brooks: has wide-ranging research interests in the history of early-modern England, with a particular focus on the law and its social and cultural implications.

Dr Adrian Green: is a specialist in the social and economic history and archaeology of the period 1450-1750, Adrian Green's main research topic is housing in Britain and its colonies.

Dr Cathy McClive: specialises in the social and cultural history of medicine, gender and sexuality in early modern France.

Dr Natalie Mears: is a specialist in Elizabethan political culture and religion.

Dr Toby Osborne: specialises in early-modern court history and diplomatic culture. His work has a strong international character, with a focus on Catholic Europe and the Italian peninsula.

Dr Nicole Reinhardt: researches on early modern European political culture, particularly in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.

Professor Ludmilla Jordanova: a specialist in history of science and medicine, portraiture, gender, the practice of history and public history.

Professor Stephen Taylor: a specialist in religious and political history of England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Professor Andy Wood: a specialist in English social history c. 1480-1850, with particular interests in the ‘poorer and middling sort of people’, landscape, and social memory.

NB: Information contained on the website or in the literature with respect to the fee is correct at the time of publication but the University reserves the right to change the course information or fee at a later date.

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