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.
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) Issues in Early Modern History (30 credits) *Skill module (30 credits) - taken over Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms
Epiphany Term (January-March)
Critical Practice (15 credits) Option module (30 credits)
Easter Term (April-June)
Dissertation (90 credits, or 60 credits if taking a *Skill module)
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.
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.