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Course content

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.

Course details

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:

  • Mass Society and Modernity 1914-1945 (Autumn term)
  • Globalisation since 1945 (Spring term)

You will also take two ‘skills and methods’ modules:

  • Historical Methods (Autumn term)
  • Dissertation Preparation (Spring term)

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.

Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

Learning and teaching

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).

Employability

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.


Visit the Contemporary History - MA page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

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