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History & Archaeology×

University of Essex, Full Time MA Degrees in History & Archaeology

We have 4 University of Essex, Full Time MA Degrees in History & Archaeology

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Whether you’re interested in the making of the modern world or witchcraft through the ages, at Essex we give you the freedom to explore the history that excites you. Read more
Whether you’re interested in the making of the modern world or witchcraft through the ages, at Essex we give you the freedom to explore the history that excites you. Our geographic spread, topic diversity and social reach give you an unrivalled opportunity to pursue your historical passions and discover new ones.

Our MA History is rigorous, flexible and wide-ranging, so that you can to choose the modules and thesis topic which best suit your interests.

Alongside four optional modules which enable you to explore the latest in historical research in our specialist areas, you also study a practical module in research techniques, and write a 20,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Historical research at Essex concentrates on the period from 1500 to the present, and covers a wide geographical area that includes British and European history, as well as Latin America, the USA, China, Russia and Africa.

Our Department of History has developed a strong research and teaching profile, with the majority of our research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). We provide you with opportunities to explore local history, and have strong links with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK.

Alternatively you can focus your study on a more specific area by following one of the following pathways:

Public History Pathway
Further your understanding of, and expertise in, a variety of public history contexts, ranging from museums and documentary films to conflict resolution and computer games.

This pathway makes the most of our status as an institution at the cutting edge of communicating history to the general public, and will involve classes led by scholars who are currently involved in documentary, heritage, oral history and school curriculum projects.

You will be given the opportunity to create, participate in, and/or critique a current piece of public history as part of your coursework assessment on the Public History Workshop module, and your dissertation will demonstrate an engagement with the methods and/or theories of public history, analyse an example of public history, or be an example of public history.

Cultural and Social History Pathway

Explore the varied ways in which understandings of the relationship between evidence and interpretation, language and the material world, economies and identities, have been challenged and changed by the ‘cultural turn’.

This pathway offers you modules which deal with a range of areas, themes and periods, placing you at the cutting-edge of historical thought on issues such as gender, race, class, consumption, modernity, mentalities and identities.

Local and Regional History Pathway
Local (or micro) history, as well as community and family studies, has played an increasingly important part in the development of historical analysis.

We reflect on these developments, drawing on the rich national and comparative literature in these fields, with a primary focus on the period from 1800 to the 20th century.

You also design and conduct a substantial independent study on a chosen historical topic or in the field of local, community or family history.

Our expert staff

Our staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. Our flexible course is combined with a supportive structure which helps you to pursue the modules best-suited to your interests.

We take the time to get to know you as an individual, welcome you into our scholarly community, and value your views.

Specialist facilities

-We have several Special Collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library
-Access the UK Data Archive, a national service provider digital resources for historians, which is particularly strong in 19th and 20th-century economic and social history
-Attend an exciting programme of events
-Access a variety of textbooks and journals in our Albert Sloman Library which houses materials on Latin America, Russia and the US that are of national significance

Your future

We have excellent links with the research community, both in the UK and worldwide, so many of our students have gone on to teach in higher education institutions. Others have found employment in archives, research, managing research funds, other forms of educational provision, the Civil Service, the National Health Service, and management.

Within our Department of History, we offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation. Themes of particular research interest include:
-Class, race and gender formation
-Nationalism
-Wars and revolutions
-International relations and oil diplomacy
-The history of medicine
-The history of crime
-Popular culture and consumption
-Slave societies
-The history of ideas and print culture
-The history of the Roma and Sinti in Europe
-Historical censuses and surveys

Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

-Dissertation
-Research Methods in History
-Race and Class in the United States, South Africa and Britain: Select Topics (optional)
-Illness and Culture in 18th-And 19th-Century Europe (optional)
-The Public History Workshop (optional)
-Gender in Early Modern Europe c.1500- c.1800 (optional)
-Approaches to Cultural and Social History (optional)
-A Global History of Food, c.1400 - c.1750 (optional)
-The Making of Consumer Culture: Britain 1780-1960 (optional)
-Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs (From the Sixteenth to the Twenty First Century) (optional)
-Decency and Disorder: Institutions in Essex 1700-1900
-The Patterns of Victorian Life: Reconstructing Nineteenth-Century Communities (optional)
-The Uses of Space in Early Modern History (optional)

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Our MA Art History and Theory is ideal if you are interested in working in academia, the art world or any other field in which visual, written and analytical skills are essential. Read more
Our MA Art History and Theory is ideal if you are interested in working in academia, the art world or any other field in which visual, written and analytical skills are essential.

At Essex, you have the freedom to study what most interests you. Some of the topics you may choose to explore include Early Modern art and architecture; the history of photography; modern and contemporary art; curatorial practice and exhibition design; as well as more vernacular forms of visual culture, such as body art and activist placards.

Regardless of the topics you pursue, we are committed to research-based teaching, with a particular emphasis on bringing the approaches of art history into contact with other disciplines and discourses. In so doing, we seek to facilitate a critical engagement with artworks and forms of visual culture, both within and beyond the traditional canons of art history.

To supplement what you learn in the classroom, frequent staff-led visits to London museums and galleries will expose you to the some of the world’s best museums and galleries, and you will be strongly encouraged to apply for a placement in order to gain experience in the museum and gallery world. On campus, the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), Europe’s largest collection of contemporary art from Latin American, will provide an invaluable resource for studying art and curatorial practice first-hand.

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. Our Art History programme is 6th in the UK for research excellence, with 89% of our work rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014). We also achieved an exceptional 95% student satisfaction in the 2016 National Student Survey.

This course is available on either a full-time or part-time basis.

Our expert staff

Essex Art History features a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environments, across cultures and media from the early modern period to the present. Our staff are experts on topics as diverse as activist art, 19th-century medical photography, the art of Latin America, urbanism, exhibition design and body art.

We also have significant experience in curation and public engagement. Recent projects include:
-Dr Gavin Grindon curated a section of Banksy’s Dismaland show and co-curated the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which was one of the most well attended shows in the museum’s history.
-Dr Matt Lodder has acted as contributor for various television shows on body art and body modification, including the Today programme, the Jeremy Vine Show, Sky News, BBC Breakfast News, ‘Coast’, and National Geographic’s ‘Taboo’.
-Dr Natasha Ruiz Gómez co-organised a major conference on Collect, Exchange, Display: Artistic Practice and the Medical Museum at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London.

Specialist facilities

At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums in the nearby town of Colchester; on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums and galleries at your fingertips.

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience and engage in object-based learning, a cornerstone of our approach when teaching the history of art and its modes of display:
-Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
-Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an on-going programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks and workshops by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students
-Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our students

Your future

The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and art history graduates leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.

Graduates from our programmes are ideally prepared for roles in the media, in advertising, in museums and galleries, in education (in schools, universities, and cultural institutions), as conservators, as auctioneers, dealers and antiques specialists, in charities, in publishing, as specialist arts lawyers, as PR agents, in fashion, or to run their own galleries.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of roles including:
-A member of the valuation team at Sotheby’s (New York)
-Head of Learning at firstsite (a contemporary arts centre in Colchester)
-Visual Merchandising Manager at John Lewis (Oxford Street, London)

We also offer research supervision for students who wish to continue their studies with a PhD or an MPhil. We cover the major areas of European art, architecture and visual culture from 1300 to the present, as well as the art and architecture of Latin America.

We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example Structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

Art History and Theory - MA
-Dissertation - MA Schemes
-Researching Art History
-Art, Science, Knowledge (optional)
-Collecting Art From Latin America (optional)
-Critique and Curating (optional)
-Curating Inside Out (optional)
-Exhibition (Joint Project) (optional)
-Current Research in Art History (optional)
-Topics in Art History (optional)
-Art & Politics (optional)
-Art, Architecture and Urbanism (optional)

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Our MA Curating offers a practical and theoretical training in devising and curating exhibitions, as you work towards the preparation of an exhibition at our on-site Art Exchange gallery. Read more
Our MA Curating offers a practical and theoretical training in devising and curating exhibitions, as you work towards the preparation of an exhibition at our on-site Art Exchange gallery.

Our course combines practice, theory and histories of curating in equal measure. You will develop an essential base skills for a successful exhibition – from object handling to managing exhibition budgets – through visiting lectures by active museum professionals; practical workshops using our on-site collection and galleries; and competitive placements at leading institutions.

You will build your own confident grasp of the history and theory of exhibition-making, studying with academics who besides being active curators are producing new key texts on the curatorial history and theory. You study topics including:
-How an exhibition can be used as a means of social or political critique
-The historical role that museums have played in society
-Participation and social engagement between spectators, artists and curators
-A choice of history of art options

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. Our Art History programme is 6th in the UK for research excellence, with 89% of our work rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and we achieved an exceptional 95% student satisfaction in the 2016 National Student Survey.

Our expert staff

Our staff consists of a dynamic group of art historians. While our research interests span a range of cultures and media, from the early modern to the present, core specialties include exhibition design, modern and contemporary art, public engagement and activism.

Here are a few examples of recent or current projects by staff members:
-Dr Gavin Grindon, Lecturer in Art History and co-director of our Centre for Curatorial Studies, recently co-curated the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one of the best attended shows in the museum’s history. He has also widely published on activist art in leading journals such as Art History.
-Dr Adrian Locke, a Visiting Fellow in Art History and Senior Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, has curated a diverse range of exhibitions, including Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910–1940 (2013) and Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South American from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (2014). He also co-curated the exhibition Ai Weiwei, which opens at the Royal Academy in September 2015.
-Dr Matt Lodder, Lecturer in Art History with an emphasis on modern and contemporary visual culture, is co-curating the exhibition Tattoo: Ancient Myths, Modern Meanings, which opens next year in the U.S.
-Dr Michael Tymkiw, co-director of the Centre for Curatorial Studies, has a book under contract entitled Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism. He has also just launched an interdisciplinary research project that focuses on using digital technologies to expand disability access in museums—a project that involves collaborations with several museums in Colchester and London including firstsite and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Specialist facilities

At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums in the nearby town of Colchester; on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums and galleries at your fingertips.

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience and engage in object-based learning, a cornerstone of our approach when teaching the history of art and its modes of display:
-Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
-Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks and workshops by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students
-Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
-Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is home to staff who specialise in the history of exhibition design and curate high-profile exhibitions

Your future

The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and our art history graduates leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.

Graduates from our programmes are ideally prepared for roles in the media, in advertising, in museums and galleries, in education (in schools, universities, and cultural institutions), as conservators, as auctioneers, dealers and antiques specialists, in charities, in publishing, as specialist arts lawyers, as PR agents, in fashion, or to run their own galleries.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
-National Portrait Gallery
-Victoria and Albert Museum
-Sotheby’s New York
-Momart Ltd
-John Lewis

We also offer research supervision for PhD and MPhil for those who want to continue with research. We cover the major areas of European art and architecture from 1300 to the present, as well as the art and architecture of Latin America and the United States.

We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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The United States is the most politically and economically influential country in the world and its politics is more important than ever. Read more

The United States is the most politically and economically influential country in the world and its politics is more important than ever.

This course allows you to study United States politics at an advanced level in a department ranked top in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014) and with an extraordinary number of staff trained in the US. One of the few United States-focused courses in the UK, the course allows you gain in-depth knowledge of the workings of the US political system—what makes it unique, how it has evolved, and how it is changing. You receive a thorough training in the theories and methods needed to conduct your own research into United States politics – culminating in your dissertation on a topic that fascinates you and enhances your career. Your research skills will be in demand by a wide range of employers, including government, international organisations, policy analysis and market research. The course also prepares students for doctoral study.

In this course, you will study a wide range of topics.

The core module covers topics relating to the political institutions and policy-making in the United States including:

·        The US Constitutional Design

·        American Political Parties

·        The American Electorate

·        Congress and the Presidency

·        Economic and Political Inequality

·        Interest Groups

·        Representation, Race and Gender

·        Federalism and the Judiciary

In addition, the course includes modules covering theory and explanation in political science and advanced research methods. Optional modules include such topics as international relations, foreign policy and the politics of Western democracies.

Our expert staff

Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious research and graduate training departments in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began. Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics and our academic staff work on topics ranging from political institutions, elections and international conflict and violence, to British and European elections. Our staff routinely advise governments, assist in training politicians and civil servants, and provide commentary on political events in national and international media.

Key academic staff for this course include:

  • Dr Royce Carroll (PhD University of California San Diego), Reader in Comparative Politics and teacher of the core United States Politics module. He has published extensively on topics of democratic institutions, representation and policy-making processes in the US and elsewhere.

  • Professor Jonathan Slapin (PhD University of California Los Angeles), an expert on political institutions and legislative politics
  • Dr Daina Chiba (PhD Rice University), an expert on research methodology and international relations
  • Dr Alex Quiroz Flores (PhD New York University), quantitative methodologist and expert on foreign policy

Over half of our academic staff completed doctoral training in the United States and many of these staff have published, taught and/or provided expert commentary on topics relating to US politics, including Natasha Ezrow (PhD University of California Santa Barbara) and Gina YannitellReinhardt (PhD Washington University in St. Louis).



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