We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of History

MA in Modern History

Brief Overview

The MA in Modern History at Durham offers a unique opportunity to acquire a range of specialist knowledge in various aspects of the period from the early 19th century to the present-day. The MA programme will help you to build an awareness of the contemporary boundaries of modern historical scholarship and to master advanced understanding of historical concepts and methods. It seeks to equip you with historical research techniques and approaches to enable you to undertake extended independent research in your dissertation, and to make your own contribution to the field.

Situated in the matchless surroundings of the World Heritage Site, including the iconic Durham Cathedral, Durham is an international centre for the study of the Modern period. The riches of archival and manuscript resources in the collections of the University (Cosin’s Library), the Cathedral, Ushaw College, are especially noteworthy, including as they do the Sudan Archive, significant collections of political papers relating to the British Isles and Colonial History, and ecclesiastical history, as are the wider regional resources for study of the period: the landscape of industrial revolution and of post-industrial response, of globalisation and regional identity. Modern History at Durham is comprehensive and international in its reach, with specialists in the cultural and political history, visual culture and media studies, sports history, regional and international histories. Area specialisms include the British Isles, Continental Europe, Africa, North America, China and the Steppe regions.


The MA incorporates a variety of assessment methods, ranging from written work in various forms, oral assessment and examinations. In terms of written work, assessment takes the form of extended source commentary of 2500 words (on a source of your choice: textual, visual, multi-media) for Archives and Sources, 5000 word essays for the Issues modules and Optional modules (in the former the questions are set, in the latter you design your own with help from the module leader), and the dissertation of either 15,000 or 20,000 word (60 or 90 credits). See here for more information.

Entry requirements

See here for information on entry requirements.

Course Structure

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

  • Archives and Sources (15 credits)
  • Critical Practice (15 credits)
  • Issues in Modern History (30 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits or 90 credits)

See here for more information on course content. Here is a full list of optional modules.

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), these 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.

MA Funding

For information on costs and funding see here.

Academic Staff

Please see here for a list of Modern academic staff in the department.


We are delighted to be contacted with further questions on any aspect of MA study in History at Durham; please feel free to contact either the departmental postgraduate secretary, Nic Lawson, or the Director of Taught Postgraduates, Dr Giles Gasper.

Please send all postgraduate enquiries to this email address: