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V1K607 Early Modern History MA Postgraduate Taught  2016


UCAS code V1K607
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) / 2 year (part-time)
Start Date 06-10-2016
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1040

Course Content


Durham's MA in Early Modern History is a broad-ranging Master's programme which seeks to equip students with historical research techniques and approaches, advanced skills in critical analysis and independent study, as well as strong and effective communication skills. The MA programme is designed to enable students with different career ambitions to succeed in their chosen area, and it caters for students of different backgrounds, previous training, and areas of specialisation. The breadth of research interests of the early modernists at Durham allows the department to offer supervision in topics about the early modern world from the mid-fifteenth century through to the early nineteenth. The programme seeks to enable students to build an awareness of the contemporary boundaries of early modern scholarship, to master advanced understanding of historical concepts and methods, and ultimately to make their own contributions to the field.

Durham's History Department is an international centre for the study of the Early Modern period, and is situated in the historic setting of the World Heritage Site, which includes Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, and the surrounding area. Students of early modern history at Durham benefit from the rich archival and manuscript resources in the collections of the University (at Palace Green Library and at Ushaw College) and in the Cathedral Library, while the wider regional resources for study of the period are also highly significant: these include the landscape of industrial revolution, of vernacular architecture and of early modern globalisation. Early Modern History at Durham is comprehensive and international in its reach, with specialists in the History of Medicine, consumer culture, print and information, court culture, ecclesiastical and intellectual history, and political thought. Area specialisms include the British Isles, Continental Europe, North America, China and the Steppe regions.


Course Structure

The MA in Early Modern History is a one-year full-time programme (or two-years part-time). All students are allocated a supervisor at the beginning of the first term, and s/he guides each student through the year. The programme is structured as follows:

Michaelmas Term (October-December)

Archives and Sources (15 credits)

This module is designed to introduce you to advanced interpretation and analysis of primary sources, and has two elements. The first is based on archives, and will be led by specialist staff in the Library's Special Collections, as well as by members of the department. The second element is commentary on particular sources, chosen by you in consultation with your supervisor and the module convenors.

Issues in Early Modern History (30 credits)

This module introduces students to some of the major problems, issues and debates in early modern history. It is taught comparatively, with discussion of Britain, Europe and the Atlantic world, and covers the period c. 1500 - 1790. The topics studied will be chosen from a selection including: institutions and society; heterodoxy, orthodoxy and persecution; sex and gender; knowledge and expertise; micro versus macro-histories; material culture; texts and contexts; and images and iconography; though students will be able to specialise on a particular area/approach in their assessed work.

*Skill module (30 credits) - taken over Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms

Students may choose to take a skills module: these are mainly medieval/ancient languages (e.g. Old English, Old Norse, Latin, Greek), modern languages for reading (e.g. Academic French, Academic German), or research skills (e.g. palaeography). Students who take a skills module write a 60-credit dissertation instead of a 90-credit dissertation.

Epiphany Term (January-March)

Critical Practice (15 credits)

This module will develop and test your ability to offer a critical intellectual argument in an oral presentation, and your ability to participate effectively in critical discussions arising out of oral presentations. The training for this module involves lectures, seminars, one-to-one sessions with your supervisor, and a drama workshop. This module will encourage you to think critically about questions of structure and balance of content, timing and delivery in presentations through observing the work of others, and developing your own presentation.

Option module (30 credits)

Option modules allow students the opportunity to learn about a particular topic or issue in early modern history in depth, and to consider different historical approaches to this topic over a full term's study. In previous years, optional modules for early modern history included: Courts and Power in Early Modern Europe, Negotiating Life in the Early Modern World, and The Wealth of Nations (a full list of MA option modules is available here). Option modules are taught in weekly two-hour seminars for a full term's study.

Easter Term (April-June), and the summer vacation (until early September)

Dissertation (90 credits, or 60 credits if taking a *Skill module)

Students meet with their supervisors on an individual basis and will discuss the topic, direction and content of their dissertation, as well as the relevant early modern evidence and scholarship which they should explore. The dissertation is a substantial, independent piece of research: the 90-credit dissertation is 20,000 words, while the 60-credit dissertation is 15,000 words. You are not required to write your dissertation on a topic which is in the same period and area as your optional modules, but it is recommended that students discuss their individual programmes of work with their supervisors and/or with the Director of Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

The formal requirements and structure of the programme can be found here; a full list of optional modules is available here.

The MA can be taken part-time, over two years. In the first year the module combination consists of Archives and Sources, Critical Practice, Issues and in addition a Skills module OR Optional module. In the second year your work will consist of either a 90 credit, 20,000 word dissertation (if you took an Optional module in the first year) OR a 60 credit, 15,000 word dissertation, AND an Optional module (if you took a Skills module in the first year).

Additional courses can be taken on an audit-basis (not for credit), and can include language modules as well as optional modules. You will need to ask and receive the permission of the module leader before auditing a class. If the class is outside the department you will also need to inform the Director of Taught Postgraduates.

Course Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered primarily through small group seminar teaching with some larger classes, and lecture-style sessions. Termly division of contact hours between terms depends on student choice. Issues in Early Modern History has 16 contact hours, all classroom-based; this module is team-taught and exposes students to a wide variety of staff support and expertise. Archives and Sources has 8 contact hours, split between lectures, classes and seminars. Skills modules are taught through seminars or classes and are usually more contact-hour-intensive. Optional modules are taught in seminars and provide a total of 16 contact hours. Critical Practice involves lectures, a drama workshop, and oral presentation to a group (at a 'mini-conference'). Dissertation supervision involves 8 hours of directed supervision, individually with a dedicated supervisor.

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

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

Requirements and Admissions

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £6,500.00
Home Student £6,500.00
Island Student £6,500.00
International non-EU Student £15,700.00

Part Time Fees

EU Student £3,600.00
Home Student £3,600.00
Island Student £3,600.00
International non-EU Student £8,700.00

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of History

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

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

Department of History

Durham attracts some of the best postgraduate students from the UK and internationally, and within the History Department we support these students to develop themselves and their careers. Our postgraduates are an important part of our research community and we place an extremely high value on the contribution which they make to the department.
Postgraduates work closely with our academic staff, who are world-leading experts in their fields. Training is provided to assist students in developing their research skills. All postgraduates are encouraged to share their work with the departmental and wider community, by means of seminars, workshops, postgraduate-led conferences, and by publication. Postgraduate students benefit from working with staff with areas of expertise including medieval, early modern and modern history, African history and modern European history.
Postgraduates also benefit from opportunities for interdisciplinary research conversations through research institutes and centres, such as the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies and the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures. Durham is exceptionally well provided with libraries, providing access to a huge collection of material. Durham is also home to an unusually extensive and diverse range of archives and special collections, from Magna Carta to the Sudan Archive.

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