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V1K707 Modern History MA Postgraduate Taught 2015


UCAS code V1K707
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year
Start Date 06-10-2015
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1075

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
  • 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
  • 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*
  • 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.
*Modules marked with an asterisk are unavailable 2014-15.

Skills Modules that may be taken are:

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

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

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

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.

add Dr Matthew Johnson: is a specialist on modern British political history, particularly militarism as a political and ideological phenomenon in Britain during the twentieth century
add Dr Jennifer Luff: a specialist in US politics and labour, with special interests in the history of working-class conservatism, civil liberies and state repression, machine politics, and political organizing.

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

Dr James Koranyi: a specialist of east-central Europe with a focus on memory, minorities and space in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Dr Thomas Stammers: a cultural historian of France from the Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century, and has particular interests in collecting, material and print culture, and heritage.

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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