The MLitt in Environmental History is an interdisciplinary taught postgraduate programme run jointly by the Institute for Environmental History and the Department of Modern History.
Environmental History examines human interaction with the natural world through time, and students will have the opportunity to engage with this intellectually urgent field.
Over two semesters, students complete two compulsory modules and one or two optional modules.
Teaching methods include seminars and fortnightly tutorials. Class sizes range from individual supervision up to 12 students. The modules are assessed principally by coursework.
Students will spend the final three months of the course focusing on researching and writing the final assessment piece for the MLitt, a dissertation of not more than 15,000 words.
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2017–2018 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2018 entry.
This programme approaches contemporary history through issues and problems with vital on-going importance, including environmental politics, information technology, post-colonial migration, internationalism and empire.
It does so across the 20th century and up to the present day, without geographical limits. It therefore offers a wide range of modules on history at a variety of scales: from the self to the city, from nation to imperium.
The MA in Contemporary History allows you to benefit from the expertise of a very large number of modern and contemporary historians at Birmingham. You will be able to specialise on many areas of British, American, African, South Asian, Middle East and European History. The programme also provides ideal preparation for PhD research.
Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
The MA Contemporary History is designed to provide you with a solid grounding in the major outlines of recent world history, along with a wide choice of specialised modules to suit your own interest.
By combining breadth with depth, it provides a framework within which you will be able to develop both your empirical and conceptual knowledge of the recent past.
You will study two core modules which use some of the best recent historical writing to cover the period since 1914:
You will also take two ‘skills and methods’ modules:
You will also choose optional modules to the value of 40 credits (two single modules or one double module). These can be taken from the Department of History or from other programmes offered in the College of Arts and Law, with the approval of the Programme Director. An indicative list of options within History can be found below.
Modules are typically assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.
The Contemporary History MA is taught by members of the Birmingham Centre for Modern and Contemporary History (BCMCH), which provides an intellectual forum for academic staff and postgraduates working within the field, and provides a base for research both for its members and in collaboration with other institutions.
BCMCH draws together the expertise of the School of History and Cultures, the Modern Languages Department, American and Canadian Studies and the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (CREES) meaningthat you’ll be able to gain insight from a range of academics and peers from across the University. It also supports a research seminar series of invited speakers throughout the academic year as well as an annual lecture series and various informal reading groups.
Learning and teaching takes on this course place via seminars, tutorials, reading texts on theory and methods and your own research on primary sources.
Support with academic writing
As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.
International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.
The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.
You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.
You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.
Postgraduate employability: History
Birmingham’s History graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by a range of employers. These skills include: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.
Some of our History postgraduates go on to use their studies directly, for example in heritage, museums or the armed forces; others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance, to publishing, to fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Royal Air Force; Ministry of Defence; University of Birmingham; Big Lottery Fund; Royal Air Force Museum; and University of Oxford.
The human race is entirely dependent on the ecosystems that feed us, regulate our environment and recycle our wastes. They provide all we need to survive and thrive. Over the past 100 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period in history. There have been net gains in human well-being and economic development, but these gains have been achieved at growing cost in the form of environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural capital.
Many options exist to reverse ecosystem degradation, but an understanding of the ecological systems and science is just a starting point. Understanding how the science interacts with policies, institutions, and practices is vital to achieve real change.
The Environmental Resource Management* option is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of how ecological principles can be applied to the management and conservation of natural resources and ecosystems, as well as practical skills and techniques.
Throughout the option emphasis is placed on how best to inform management and conservation decisions using tools that range from geographical mapping software and biodiversity appraisal to life cycle analysis. The important influence of institutional arrangements and economic forces on resource use and management decisions is also a key theme.
Practical applications of ecological, institutional and economic concepts are illustrated by case studies, practical sessions, seminars and workshops. These are augmented by field trips and frequent contact with outside organisations responsible for environmental management. The option draws on a wide range of speakers with first-hand experience of environmental and ecological management in both the developed and developing world.
Students graduating from this option will be well placed to make informed decisions relating to real-world problems and able to identify and evaluate practical management options.
To equip students with the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to embark on a career in natural resource management and to engage and interact with professionals in these disciplines.
Four main themes run through the option:
Theme 1: Understanding natural resource systems and human interactions
Explores renewable resource systems that are critical to human survival, ecosystem functioning and conservation. Focussing on specific examples we examine how these systems function and investigate the scientific, policy and practical issues involved in their management. Dedicated lectures and case studies include fisheries management, sustainable agriculture, conservation and management of wildlife populations.
Theme 2: Management tools and applications
Introduces and provides practical experience of some of the key tools and techniques used by environmental management professionals, including life cycle assessment, GIS, participatory appraisal and citizen science. Applications of these tools include gathering data, structuring and analysing problems, and communicate insights.
Theme 3: Policy, Assessment and Law
Informing the design of better policy is the objective of a great deal of research in understanding ecosystem processes and responses. Many conservation and resource management initiatives are also underpinned or impeded by legislation. This theme examines the interaction between policy processes, the legal system and conservation objectives. Key aspects of the national, European and international legal system and the role played by international law in the protection of the environment are identified. Regulatory instruments including Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment are also examined.
Theme 4: Management in Practice
Based around the fieldtrips and case-studies provided by external speakers and ecological management professional, this theme provides an opportunity to engage with professional working in the field and better understand what happens when theory and ideology meets practical barriers and resource constraints. Visits include forest management; farming and wildlife management, heathland management, ancient woodland and grazed pasture, ecosystem rehabilitation and wetland creation. Though these visits we explore the role of wildlife trusts in local conservation, the role of volunteers in managing sites of scientific interest, and the role of estate management in sustainable agriculture.
The Environmental Resource Management option (formerly called Ecological Management) has been running since 1978 and has more than 480 Alumni that can be found throughout all levels of Government, Industry, International agencies, Consultancy and NGOs.
Graduates are excellently placed to gain employment in a wide range of organizations dealing with natural resources, conservation and international development. Over 80% of graduates gain employment in the environmental field within months of graduating.
Common destinations include consultancy, NGOs, international organisations and government. Recent destinations include:
The Master of Chemistry in Environmental Forensics programme is an exciting opportunity, using active learning and providing practical experience in close cooperation with industry and environmental researchers.
Environmental forensics is the systematic and scientific evaluation using various disciplines for the purpose of developing defensible scientific and legal conclusions regarding the source, age and history of chemical pollutants released into the environment. You, together with industry and leading researchers, have the opportunity to develop the knowledge needed for you to contribute to a future resilient society.
The programme offers insight into several disciplines including analytical and environmental analysis, in order to characterise the source and amount of chemical pollutants in the environment as well as describe their history. In order to facilitate a broad understanding of the specialities involved in environmental forensics, the curriculum will include a wide-range of multidisciplinary expertise within natural sciences such as environmental science, isotope chemistry, environmental sampling, human health, advanced statistics, and transportation modelling. To ensure that students gain practical field experience, real-life cases are provided in collaboration with industry. The programme uses problem-based learning (PBL) to encourage active learning and to develop problem solving abilities. These skills will be used to identify sources and history of environmental pollution.
It is a two-year programme, but can be finished after one year resulting in a 60-credit Master of Science in Chemistry. Year one deals with distribution of environmental pollutions, environmental toxicology, human exposure, sustainability and environmental regulations, and forensic analytical methods. Year two includes advanced statistical methods, research methodology and project management. Both alternatives conclude with project work in a research group and/or with industry.