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MA in The Making of the Modern World

Course Description

How has the decline of European empires in the extra-European world shaped the 20th century – and beyond?

The Master’s degree in The Making of the Modern World is an innovative programme which addresses the legacies of decolonisation on contemporary nation and state-building around the world. Students are introduced to debates about decolonisation and its relationship with modernity, addressing the question of how the end of empire has shaped the modern world.

This MA examines the nature of decolonisation in comparative perspective, looking at the British, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Belgian empires, rather than limiting the study of empire to a few case studies or to a single colonial power. The MA examines the differences in colonial governance and decolonisation processes, and how this has impacted the development of successor colonial states and the processes of decolonisation, nation-building, and the strengthening of the state which these states experienced.

Upon graduating, students will receive a degree awarded by the University of London.

Students will:

Learn about and analyse the political, developmental, institutional and social legacies of the decolonisation process;
Understand the connectivity between domestic politics and society and international diplomacy and policymaking;
Develop skills in understanding and analysing archival sources and undertaking archival and oral research;
Understand the ways in which the decline of the European empires in the extra-European world has shaped the 20th century.
This advanced degree provides an excellent foundation for students who wish to expand their knowledge of international history, politics and society prior to working for international organisations, the media, or in other professional capacities. It also provides the base for those wishing to do further research in African, Asian or European studies.

In addition to the knowledge gained over the course of the MA, the skills students develop - including the ability to analyse material in detail, process quantitative and qualitative data to reach informed conclusions, critique existing knowledge and conduct independent research - will be relevant to a wide variety of careers and will broaden students' appeal to a range of employers.


In order to pass the MA, students need to have achieved a total of 90 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits. ECTS credits are recognised across the European Union. The degree comprises four compulsory modules (including the dissertation), and three optional modules.

Required (core) modules (Autumn Term):

Historical Research Skills (with the Institute of Historical Research) [10 ECTS]
European Decolonisation in the 20th Century [10 ECTS]
Ethnicity, Nationalism, Liberation and Identity: the view from the Extra-European world [10 ECTS]
Optional modules* (Spring Term):

Diplomacy and Decolonisation [10 credits]
Geopolitics and Decolonisation [10 credits]
Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency [10 credits]
Decolonisation, Nation-State Building and Development [10 credits]
*All modules are subject to availability.

Dissertation [30 ECTS]

Students will complete a 15,000-word research-based dissertation on a chosen topic within human rights which is of special interest to them. This topic will be chosen in consultation with your dissertation supervisor, who will provide support.


The MA is assessed primarily through essays, although class participation also contributes towards assessment. Additional formative assessments include class presentations.

Mode of study

Study options: full-time over one year, or part time over 24 months.

Students undertaking the MA on a part-time basis will take two required modules in Autumn Term of their first year, and up to two optional modules in the Spring Term. They will take one required module in the Autumn Term of their second year, and one or two optional modules in the Spring Term.

Visit the MA in The Making of the Modern World page on the School of Advanced Study website for more details!

Student Profiles

Arts and Humanities Research Council (LAHP) studentships - No. of awards TBC

The LAHP studentship competition will open for applications on 1 December 2015, and the closing date is Friday 15 January 2016. Studentship candidates are advised to apply for a place to study well in advance of the closing deadline for LAHP studentship applications to ensure that they have the opportunity to consult with proposed supervisors in preparing the LAHP studentship application form. It is suggested that candidates make their applications for a place to study in the School by 29 January 2016. AHRC scholarships cover fees and, in all but exceptional circumstances, maintenance allowance (stipend). Overseas students are not normally eligible for AHRC funding. The primary criterion on which applications are judged is academic merit.The 2015 maintenance rates for doctoral students are £15,863 (full-time). Rates may be subject to change.

Value of Scholarship(s)

£15,863 (full-time)


To be eligible to apply for a LAHP studentship in the forthcoming round, candidates must either be applying to start a programme of postgraduate study in the 2016-17 academic year, which starts in October 2016; or, if they have already commenced doctoral study, they may apply for funding for the remainder, provided that, at the start of the AHRC award, they have at least 50% of the period of study remaining.

Application Procedure

The closing date for applications is Friday 15 January 2016.

Further Information



SAS Studentships (Coffin Fund for Promising Students) - 2 Awards

The School is able to provide two SAS Studentships via the Coffin Fund for Promising Students. In 2015-16, the awards are £12,500 to cover tuition fees and contribute towards maintenance costs (where applicable) and will be awarded to two students who have demonstrably excelled in their undergraduate degree.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The primary criterion on which applications are judged is academic merit. The successful applicant will be of exceptional quality, evidenced by previous academic achievement at undergraduate level, with an outstanding mark achieved in the final-year project/dissertation. Successful applicants will have a genuine and demonstrable interest in undertaking a master’s degree at the School of Advanced Study. In addition, awards are open to students who are:
• self-funded and domiciled in the UK, European Union (EU) or overseas;
• studying full-time or part-time for a maximum of two years;
• undertaking masters courses in any subject (excluding MRes, Distance Learning, PGDip and PGCert)

Application Procedure

In order to apply for a SAS studentship (Coffin Fund) at the School, you must have applied to study here. For further information on SAS postgraduate studies, please see Master’s degrees or the Institute websites, and then the information on how to apply. The SAS studentship (Coffin Fund for Promising Students) competition for 2016-17 closes spring 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement would be a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a recognised university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard (for example a Grade Point Average [GPA] of 3.0 or higher).Applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements, but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience, could be considered.

Course Fees

Home/EU Full-time: £7,650.00 Part-time 24 months: £4,360.00 Overseas Full-time: £13,550.00

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