Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Historical Research

This programme will provide you with the advanced conceptual, theoretical and practical skills necessary for undertaking historical research, whether at PhD level, professionally or independently. It will give you the intellectual foundations, practical techniques and confidence to pursue your own research in the historical subject or period that most interests you. The core modules provide fundamental training in approaching and carrying out research at a postgraduate level, including locating, retrieving and managing historical evidence, contextualising and analysing textual, visual and material sources, and using qualitative and quantitative methods, including specialist software, to assess and analyse historical data. We will critically examine problems of historical theory and practice, with an emphasis on debates around key topics such as historical narrative, objectivity and relativism, causation, the relationship of history to other disciplines, the rise and impact of social and cultural histories, and new directions in historical research and writing. We will consider some of the key methodological and theoretical approaches to history of the past 100 years, including the Annales School, Marxist historiography and postmodernism. As well as being able to choose option modules from the extensive range offered by the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, you will also be able to elect to undertake option modules offered by other departments. The culmination of the programme is the writing of an independently researched dissertation under the guidance and supervision of one of our research-active academics.

Course modules

You take 2 core modules and choose 2 option modules from a comprehensive list of history courses taught at Birkbeck. You may take option modules from MA programmes run by other departments, as long as they are approved by the course director as being relevant to the proposed topic of research. You will also write a dissertation. Not all modules are available each year. View the full timetable for the year. Core modules: Mastering Historical Research: Birkbeck Approaches; The Historian's Craft . Option modules: China and the West: Encounters; Civil Society: Ideas, Practices and Dilemmas in the Modern World, 17th Century to the Present; Cultural History of War in Britain and America between the First World War and the Conflict in Vietnam; Darwin, Darwinism and the Modern Ages; Death, Disease and Early Modern City; Early Modern London: Society and Culture; Empires in Modern East Asia; Gender in Britain; Globalisation: A Short Historical Introduction; Jews and Antisemitism in Modern Europe: Histories and Approaches; Madness and its Meanings; Magic, Science and Religion in the Renaissance; Monastic Lives in Medieval England; Money and Empire c. 300-c. 800; Opposition and Dissent in Early Modern France; Plots, Conspiracy Theory and Political Culture in Early Modern Britain and France; Politics and Islam; Power and Communication in Europe, from the Reformation to Enlightenment; Public Histories in Practice; Race and the Victorians; Religion in Society and Politics: Britain and Ireland, 1801-2001; Renaissance Florence: Society, Religion and Culture; Technology, Modernity and the Nation: Britain and Germany, 1880 to 1930; The Making of Modern Societies: Britain and Europe, c.1500-c.1750; The Origins of the French Revolution; The Rise of the Modern Consumer: Consumers and Politics in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries; The Two Irelands 1911-1998; The Victorian Communication Revolution; Vice and the Victorians: Moral and social reform in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century .

Assessment methods

The first core module and each option module are assessed by a 5000-word essay; the second core module is examined by a shorter review essay and a research proposal. You will write a dissertation of 15,000 words.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MA Full-time October 2018 GBP 14,450 per Year 1 (International) 1 Years
MA Full-time October 2018 GBP 7,950 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 1 Years
MA Part-time October 2018 GBP 7,225 per Year 1 (International) 2 Years
MA Part-time October 2018 GBP 3,975 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 2 Years
MSc Full-time October 2018 - 1 Years
MSc Part-time October 2018 - 2 Years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus WC1E 7HX London

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Key information

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
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