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    School of Politics & International Relations Logo
  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas

    Politics & Government

  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

  • Course Type


  • Course Fees

    Please see the University website for details.

  • Last Updated

    24 January 2019


Reflecting increased interest in contemporary history following the end of the Cold War, this course is explicitly historical in scope, with particular focus on events within living memory.

It addresses contending approaches to recent events which have shaped your own life and the lives of those around you.

Nottingham has one of the largest number of academics focused on contemporary history in the UK. Staff in the School of Politics and International Relations are actively engaged in this research and are joined by experts in the School of American and Canadian Studies, Department of History, and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

Areas of special interest include:

  • 20th-century American history
  • 20th-century Chinese history
  • Anglo-American relations
  • Cold War history
  • communism and fascism
  • contemporary British political history
  • film history
  • intelligence and national security
  • labour and urban history, especially in Britain and Europe
  • modern German history including the Holocaust
  • modern Russia, especially imperial, diplomacy and war
  • modern war in Europe, Asia and the Pacific
  • religion and conflict in the Middle East
  • South East Asia, especially social movements
  • United States foreign and security policy
  • women's history

Key facts

  • Top 100 worldwide for politics and international relations in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018
  • Committed to excellence in teaching, having won 13 Higher Education Academy awards
  • Expert academics who contribute to public debate through national and international media, including appearing on BBC TV, BBC Radio 4, the BBC World Service and in such publications as The Guardian, The New York Times and Le Monde

Course details

You can tailor this flexible, interdisciplinary course to your interests and career aspirations by choosing from a wide range of modules.

At least 60 credits will be taken with the School of Politics and International Relations, plus a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation. You will be allocated an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.

The remaining 60 credits may be studied with other schools/departments across the University, subject to approval, with certain modules being especially recommended.


Assessment for taught modules takes place at the end of each semester and is through a combination of coursework and/or exams, with some modules also requiring an assessed presentation.


Core modules

  • Dissertation

Optional modules

Politics and international relations

  • China and the World
  • Comparative Democratic Development
  • Democracy and Elites in 20th Century Europe and America
  • Designing Political Enquiry
  • Disasters, Rehabilitation and Resilience
  • EU-China: Trade, Aid and Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century
  • Gender and Development
  • Global Asia
  • Government and Politics of China
  • Institutions, Governance and International Development
  • International Political Economy
  • Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice
  • The Politics of South Asia
  • Quantitative Political Analysis
  • Russia in the World Today
  • Secret Intelligence and International Security
  • Special Project A
  • Special Project B
  • Terrorism and Insurgencies
  • Theories and Concepts in International Relations
  • The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy
  • War, Peace and Terror
  • When Does Russia Expand and Why? 


  • The Asia-Pacific War and Modern Memory
  • Exploring English Identity
  • Foreign Policy and Appeasement, 1933-39
  • Memory and Social Change in Modern Europe and Beyond
  • (Mis)Perceptions of the Other: From Savages and Barbarians to the Exotic and Erotic

You can select up to 60 credits of modules from other schools/departments across the University, including the Department of History, subject to approval.

Careers and professional development

This course will introduce you to the advanced study of contemporary history and equip you with the skills needed for a wide range of career paths, from media and leisure, to national government and international organisations.

Many students take an active role in politics throughout their time in the school, and after. Politics is an ideal academic discipline if you are interested in a career in politics or government.

Other students go into a range of careers, including management, marketing, teaching and broadcasting. Recent graduate destinations include Channel 4, the European Union, GCHQ, Reuters and the Thailand National Police Department.


We offer a range of local, national and international placement opportunities, which may be paid or voluntary, part-time alongside your studies or longer placements during University vacations.


If you wish to continue your studies after completing this course, we offer a range of research opportunities with PhD supervision in most subject areas.

Employability and average starting salary

95.2% of postgraduates from the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £25,000 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £42,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Visit the Politics and Contemporary History MA page on the University of Nottingham website for more details!




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