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History MA

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2017
Part time 2 years September 2017

Choose Kingston's History MA

This MA offers a unique opportunity to combine academic study of the past with a practical focus on public history. Taught by specialist, research-active staff who are leaders in their fields, it will equip you with an understanding of cutting-edge research and debates within the discipline of history as a whole, while providing training in historical skills such as using archives and exploring history through ICT. The course also includes work placements in and visits to research archives, museums and heritage sites.

Find out more about this course:

Key features

  • Choose from our specialist modules on modern Britain and Europe, eighteenth-century Britain and revolutionary France, or public history. Have a look at our departmental blog to see the latest topics that Kingston historians are writing on, and how we use blogging, and other media to engage in vibrant historical conversations with the wider public.
  • This MA will enable you to pursue studies leading to a research degree, an academic career or wider employment opportunities in the media, heritage and publishing industries.
  • Rich in local and nationally important heritage, Kingston University has the added advantage of proximity to London and its historic sites, museums and research resources including the National Archives at Kew, the British Library and Historic Royal Palaces. There will be opportunities for work placements within London's research archives, institutes, heritage sites and museums.
  • You will have full access to the University's Centre for the Historical Record, which promotes collaborative research, knowledge exchange and discussion between historians, archivists, curators, heritage providers and the public. It organises seminars and conferences and provides advice on digitisation projects. See our history research pages for more information.

What will you study?

You will be introduced to key debates about the theory and practice of different types of history. You will also be provided with a broad outline of a variety of research methods, and will gain the documentary and archival skills necessary to pursue a research topic of your choice. You will be taught in small groups by an expert historian in your particular topic of interest. You will be encouraged to focus on a specific area of research early in the course and will be allocated a subject supervisor who will work with you on your dissertation. Module assignments can be tailored to fit your research interests.

You may choose from two approaches:

  • pursue your topic thematically through ‘The Eighteenth Century' and ‘Modern Britain and Europe' modules before taking your dissertation; or
  • combine the study of your chosen research topic in one of the above modules with the ‘Presenting Public History' module to discover how to communicate your research to a wider public audience. This option enables you to vary the format in which your dissertation is submitted.


Essays, written assignments, presentations, and dissertation.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

Core modules

  • This core module provides students with knowledge and skills vital to successful postgraduate study of History at Master’s level and beyond. Its year-long duration facilitates students’ transition to higher level study and research, providing both continuity and a solid base for in-depth and new exploration of historical theory, method and practice. The module follows a thematic approach based on these three important aspects of ‘doing history’.

    At Kingston we always emphasise the importance of debate and in this module we particularly encourage students to learn and appreciate how the discipline has evolved and is still evolving, and how it changes over time. We explore how historical enquiry has encompassed topics such as monarchy, diplomacy and politics and, more recently, cultural, gender, public and many other histories; and we encourage students to explore links between history and current policy-making. The module considers historical methodologies in all their varied forms: quantitative, qualitative and electronic. Under the auspices of the University's Centre for the Historical Record the module pays particular attention to the growing importance of digital technologies in both the study and representation of history in 21st century; and emphasises the importance to historical enquiry of archives – and archivists. Through exposure to current thinking and participating in current debates in history, our Masters students benefit from the History team’s varied and extensive experience and expertise in research, writing, broadcasting and of course teaching.

    In this module we deploy a range of teaching and learning methods including seminars, workshops and practical sessions, including a series of ‘mini-projects’ which facilitate students’ engagement with historical theory, method and practice. These draw on local and other archives and other repositories of information and they include instruction in various techniques ranging from oral history to digital history. By the end of the module students will have acquired a valuable set of transferrable skills which will enhance their employability not only in history and heritage sectors but in a much wider range of careers.

  • This module is the culmination of students' study and research on the MA.  It provides them with an opportunity for intensive and detailed research-based exploration of their chosen topic under the guidance of a dissertation supervisor with expertise in their field.  Students will receive guidance on producing a research proposal and a literature review, and on analysing key historical debates and interpretations of their topic. Together with the skills learned in the core module, this will enable them to construct a plan of research on which to base a dissertation. Students following the public history route may choose to vary the format of their dissertation and produce an analysis of a practice-based project or examples of public history such as museums, film, television, heritage trails, websites or historic houses.


Optional modules

  • This module explores the dramatic changes in British and European society, culture and politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, offering both a wide-ranging survey of this era as a whole, and the chance to specialise in a case study of particular interest. It begins with an overview of the period, from the industrial revolution through fascism, communism and the world wars, via the swinging sixties to the current age of the internet.  This will be team-taught by different specialist staff through combined lecture and workshop sessions.  The emphasis will be on the historical big picture, with students encouraged to think broadly and comparatively across the period and themes.  In the workshops, students will discuss and debate the most recent research and interpretations of historians on each topic.  In the second half of the module, there is a switch from the broad sweep to the specialist and specific.  Students will choose to specialise in a case study of particular interest to them.  Here, the emphasis will be on exploring and discussing primary source evidence, from Cabinet minutes to films, cartoons and magazines.  Students will be encouraged both to explore the wide range of London's research libraries and archives, and to present and discuss their findings to other group members.  Case studies are drawn from current staff research areas and may include: British leisure and culture in the swinging sixties; German nationalism and unification; sickness and health; British fascism; twentieth-century British politics.

  • Public History encompasses a wide range of activities through which historians engage with the public and contribute to their understanding of the past. It also frequently involves collaborating with a range of professionals including archivists, curators, heritage providers, journalists, editors and television or radio producers. This innovative module will build on the academic and analytical skills gained in the History MA Core and Option modules to provide students with the skills necessary to communicate their historical knowledge effectively to a non-academic audience through a variety of different media.  Students will explore the differences between presenting academic and public history and consider the ethical issues involved. They will study historic houses and palaces; archives, museums and galleries; the production of history on radio and television, in film and on the web; and the practice of oral and family history.  They will gain insight into writing for magazines and newspapers, and producing historical fiction and biography. The module includes guest talks by external experts in the field. Students will also gain practical experience of collaborative historical work through placements at a variety of institutions or by taking part in local heritage projects.   Assessment will be through an essay, an article aimed at a magazine or website and a presentation to undergraduate students.

  • The eighteenth century straddles the unfamiliar past and the recognisably modern. In this module you study a period of transition and transformation that arguably laid the foundations for, and also created, the fault lines of the world we live in today. The eighteenth century was characterized in the West by a powerful will to unify, through global trade and commerce and ideas about humanity. Yet there was fragmentation also, through burgeoning national identities, and the shockwaves of the French Revolution.

    This dichotomy will be explored through a variety of teaching and learning approaches. These include student-led sessions, workshop activities, seminars, guest speakers, computer-based learning and independent study. There is a strong emphasis on the use of primary source material and the challenges and debates of current historical research.

    Teaching block one provides a historical and historiographical analysis of the period through a series of key themes. These include; eighteenth century society and the gendering of public and private space, the birth of a consumer society and the commercialization of leisure, the expansion of empire, international conflict, crime and punishment, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. Teaching block two allows an opportunity to explore these in greater depth when staff research specialisms will provide the basis for a series of case studies. Examples include: justice, gender and society in Britain, the expansion of empire, the culture of the French Revolution and Anglo-French encounters and identities.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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Contact us

Admissions team


This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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