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MSt in History

Course Description

This two-year, part-time Master’s programme is designed for those who wish to study at postgraduate level and are keen to develop high-level skills in historical research.

The course offers two thematic strands in which students specialise. The first, British local and regional history, is constant throughout all intakes. The second, which changes for each intake, is Politics and religion in Tudor and Stuart England for the 2016-2018 course. You will specialise in one of these two themes, studying taught modules and undertaking original research, culminating in a dissertation of 16,000 to 20,000 words.

Visit the website: http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/mst-history

Course detail

The MSt is taught over two years in short, intensive study blocks, and begins in October 2016 (Michaelmas Term). It has been designed to be accessible to those in full- or part-time employment and to international students.

Successful applicants will become members of a Cambridge college and will join the wider graduate community, with full access to the facilities of the University.

By the end of the course students should have:

- developed an understanding of, and ability to apply critically, the main academic theories and concepts underpinning the study of history;
- extended and developed their analytical, evaluative and critical capacities;
- developed the ability to form independent judgements based on their reading, research and writing;
- demonstrable specific subject knowledge and analysis relevant to their dissertation;
- developed research skills required for further postgraduate research.


The MSt is structured around four residential modules that students must attend. All students take modules 1 and 3 together; modules 2 and 4 are subject pathway modules. In the first year, each of the four residential blocks is preceded by guided preparatory reading and other activities.

A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) offers learning support to students while they are on the programme, including learning resources, peer-to-peer and student-to-tutor discussion between modules, to build a virtual community of practice. Students are expected to have sufficient IT skills to engage with the VLE and all assignments are uploaded to the VLE for assessment.

Lectures, seminars and classes: c.75 hours in Year 1 (including some reading/prep time), c.18 hours in Year 2.

Supervision: 5 x 1-hour sessions in Year 2.

Year 1

The taught elements of the syllabus are offered during Year 1 in four intensive study blocks, usually scheduled inside Full Term, each of which is examined by an assessed essay. Sessions are offered in research training, and essay and dissertation writing.

Module 1: Theory, concepts and historiography (3 - 6 October 2016)*
Induction Day: Introduction to the course, tours of the University and Seeley History libraries, talk on Cambridge colleges.

The Annales School, international history, gender, feudalism, race, class and social status, nations and states, religion, essay workshop.

Module 2: (30 November – 2 December 2016)*
a) British local and regional history
Approaches to local history, manors and tour of medieval Cambridge, the parish, early modern culture, religion and belief, urban history, consumption, family and household, essay workshop.


b) Politics and Religion in Tudor and Stuart England 1520 - 1625
Parliamentary history, Reformation history, politics, religion and memory.

Module 3: Sources, methods and research skills (22 - 24 February 2017 )*
Using library resources and archives, the census, global and transnational history, micro-history, sources for early modern history, IT for historians, Excel for historians, practical, quantitative and economic history, oral history and its discontents, anthropology and history, essay workshop.

Module 4: (19 – 21 May 2017)*
a) British local and regional history
Disease, death and doctors, plague and venereal disease, why were towns the principal determinant of mortality change from 1600 to 1900?, the old Poor Law and charity, the new Poor Law, charity and the state, workhouse medicine and mortality, smallpox, childbirth, midwifery and the man-midwife, mutual aid and self-help, the ‘professionalisation’ of medicine, essay workshop.


b) Politics and Religion in Tudor and Stuart England 1625 - 1715
Sources for Tudor and Stuart political history, sources for Tudor and Stuart religious history.

* module content subject to change

Year 2

The second year is characterised by focus on the dissertation. Students will work independently on their chosen topic under the supervision of an expert in their chosen field with whom they will have regular contact. Students will be required to attend five supervisions between May 2017 and May 2018, at least three of which must be face-to-face and two of which can be online.

There will also be three day-schools at Madingley Hall, at which students provide short presentations on their research to date and at which there is some research training:

- Saturday 21 October 2017
- Saturday 2 December 2017
- Saturday 14 April 2018


- A dissertation of 16,000-20,000 words (including footnotes and appendices, but excluding bibliography)
- Four essay assignments, each of 4,000 words maximum.

Some assignments and the dissertation require literature reviews.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying


You may be interested to know that from 2016/17, Student Finance England (SFE) is introducing a postgraduate loans scheme for full-time and part-time Master’s courses. Information on eligibility, the amount of the loan and the level of repayment can be found in SFE’s The Student Room: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/content.php?r=5659-Student-Finance

Please note that SFE is planning to take applications via its main Student finance website, from summer 2016: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance

Sources of government funding and financial support - including Professional and Career Development Loans

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

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course will normally have achieved a UK 2.i honours degree or overseas equivalent.

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