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MPhil in American History

Course Description

For the MPhil in American History, in the first term, students on the course will be offered an intensive training programme consisting of classes, seminars, workshops, individual and group assignments. Each student will take a compulsory core readings course in American history. This course will include weekly classes in Michaelmas Term on major themes, historiography, and methods, based on key readings, so that students come to a foundational understanding of central themes in American history. Students will also choose two Options, one in Michaelmas Term and one in Lent Term, from a range of Options in American and other history. Each of these modules will require a 3,000-4,000 word essay (or equivalent) and will count for 10% of the final mark (so all three modules will count for 30% of the final degree mark). Those who satisfactorily complete this programme of study will continue on to a research project, closely supervised by one of Cambridge’s outstanding group of American historians. They will be expected to submit a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words by the middle of June. This dissertation is worth 70% of the final degree mark.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/hihimpamh

Course detail

The MPhil in American History aims to:

- explore key themes underpinning American history as well as the debates that shaped this dynamic field
- train students in the use of the printed, manuscript, visual, material culture, and oral sources for the study of American history, and introduce the use of sources, within and beyond U.S. archives;
- offer an intensive introduction to research methodologies and skills useful for the study of American history
- provide an opportunity for students to undertake, at postgraduate level, a piece of original historical research in American history under close supervision: to write a substantial piece of history in the form of a dissertation with full scholarly apparatus.

By the end of the programme, students will have:

- knowledge of key debates and trends in American history and historiography
- greater understanding of issues, events, and people in American history
- skills in presenting work in both oral and written form
- advanced research and writing skills (at postgraduate level)


Compulsory Core Course, Michaelmas Term, “Readings in American History and Historiography”: Weekly classes in Michaelmas Term on major themes, historiography and methods, based on key readings, so that students come to a foundational understanding of key themes in American history. The final essay in this option, of 3,000-4,000 words and incorporating a presentation, is assessed and is worth 10% of the final mark.

Options in Michaelmas and Lent Term: Weekly classes in Michaelmas and Lent Terms on broad but more specialized topics (for example, on the Atlantic World, or on Politics and Society in the 20th century). There will also be options from other MPhils which students can take. Students will be required to take one option in each term. They would be required to make a presentation, and to complete a 3,000-4,000 word essay. Each Option is worth 10% of the final mark.

- Language Training: This is encouraged, especially for those working in early American or America in the world topics.

- Research Seminar and Training: Students are required to attend the weekly US Research Seminar, to log attendance, and to ask at least one question per Term.

- Graduate Workshop and Training: Students are required to attend the weekly US History Graduate Workshop, to present their work once in the academic year, and to offer feedback on the work presented by others.


- The thesis is Part II of the course. The thesis will be 15,000-20,000 words. It will be due in early-June and will count for 70% of the final degree mark.

- An oral examination will only be required in cases where one of the marks is a marginal fail.

- Each of three modules in Michaelmas and Lent (one Compulsory Core, and two Options) will require a 3,000-4,000 words essay (or equivalent). Each will count toward 10% of the final degree mark, for a total of 30%. Taken together, these are Part I, and students must receive passing marks in order to move to Part II.

- Students will also prepare a 2,000 word dissertation proposal essay due in the Lent Term. This essay will be unassessed but students will meet with their supervisor to discuss the essay and get feedback.


In order to be considered for continuation to the PhD, and always subject to satisfactory supervision arrangements being in place, students are expected to obtain an overall mark of 70 for the MPhil and a mark of at least 70 for their dissertation.

Find out how to apply here http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/hihimpamh/apply

Funding Opportunities

Please see the History Faculty’s Funding Guide via the History Faculty’s weblink below:


Visit the MPhil in American History page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree. Applicants should hold a high upper second class degree from a UK University (usually 67%) or international equivalent as set by the University Graduate Admissions Office (see View Website...). Candidates will normally be expected to have taken a substantial number of History courses at university level and to have a sound background in the period covered by the course.

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