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History of the British Isles (MA)

Course Description

This MA in the History of the British Isles will deepen your appreciation of the distinctive political, social and cultural aspects of the British and Irish historical experience, from the Reformation period to the present day, while also fostering your awareness of values and experiences the British and the Irish share with their European and global neighbours. This Master's degree considers the constituent countries of the British Isles - England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - and asks how and why the geographical and political entities that are Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland came into being.

The pressing current day issue of devolution is encouraging discussions about the formation of nation-states and national identities which feed into debates amongst historians about whether the territorial state is the most useful or constructive means of assessing historical developments and how the creation (and re-creation) of national identities relate to religion, race, gender and class.

The core module will introduce you to the systematic study of historiography and the methodologies used in the analysis and interpretation of historical source material. You can explore the enormous breadth of research interests in the department via the 3 option modules you choose, which span from the ancient period to the contemporary moment. This programme will enable you to engage with the most important and up-to-date themes, debates and historiographies in the study of the British Isles.

Finally, the dissertation gives you the chance to pursue your own interests and undertake your own research and critical thinking under the supervision of a member of staff with relevant expertise. By drawing on the expertise of staff directly engaged in English, Irish and Scottish research areas, the programme provides support and encouragement if you want to go on to pursue independent, professional or PhD research, develop new skills in relation to existing careers, or simply deepen your own understanding of the richness, diversity and complexity of the British historical experience in comparative perspective.

Key teaching staff on this programme

Course director: Professor Jerry White.

Other staff who teach on this MA programme include:

Dr Laura Stewart
Dr Sean Brady
Professor Joanna Bourke
Dr Jan Rueger
Professor Frank Trentmann
Professor Vanessa Harding
Professor David Feldman.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
This exciting, collaborative Master's degree offers you the chance to use the British Isles as a focus for the study of broad historical themes.
You can follow, further develop and enhance your own interests, with a wide choice of option modules, while improving your research skills and undertaking a dissertation in an area that interests you.
Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is one of the leading research and teaching departments for history in the UK. It is ranked 6th in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent.
Our academic staff are international authorities in their fields, delivering stimulating, research-led teaching.
Our department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research. These include the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, the Raphael Samuel History Centre and the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.
We are located 5 minutes' walk from the British Museum and the British Library, while the Museum of London is easily reachable. The Institute of Historical Research is located in Bloomsbury, near the main Birkbeck campus, and has an internationally renowned library collection and seminars that you can attend.
Birkbeck Library has an extensive history collection, including the major specialist journals, and access to online materials.

Visit the History of the British Isles (MA) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

Student Profiles

Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Second-class honours degree and references. We also offer a 1-year Graduate Certificate in History , which can be used as a conversion course if you want to study history at postgraduate level, but have a degree in a significantly different discipline.If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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