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History MA

UCAS code
Year of entry
Course length
1 year full time
2 years part time
History »
Location of study
Main Campus (Egham) »
Central London »

Taking your MA in History at Royal Holloway means that you will have maximum flexibility to fully tailor your degree to your own areas of interest. Our internationally renowned academics, who are at the forefront of research and methodological innovation, will inspire and challenge you. On graduation you will have a balance of theories, concepts and practical skills, making this degree ideal if you are looking to develop your career in areas that involve the professional creation, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge or wish to progress towards a PhD in History.

Depending on your individual interests your bespoke course can have either a broad or concentrated focus. The courses available cover gender and cultural history, British, European and World history, as well as Hellenic studies. You will also take wide-ranging methodology and research skills training courses which provide instruction in historical research, help with practical skills such as chairing and working in groups and briefings on the applications of history in the job market.

We are one of the largest and liveliest History departments in the UK yet our size is not at the cost of anonymity; you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community.

  • Access to some of the richest facilities for historical research anywhere in the world; in addition to the College’s substantial library collections, there are the National Archives, British Library and libraries of the University of London.
  • World-leading and internationally excellent research which is ranked joint first for its impact on greater society (Research Excellence Framework 2014, 4* and 3* research).
  • A vast range of research expertise ranging from ancient to contemporary times, from Europe to the Far East, and from political history to economic with particular strengths in social, cultural, and gender history, the history of ideas, as well as a notable range of countries, periods, and approaches.
  • Unique access to resources, though our own research centres, including 19th and 20th century women’s education, the Holocaust and South Asian Studies.

Core modules

History Past and Present - Definitions, Concepts and Approaches

In this module you will develop an understanding of the major intellectual traditions within the study of History as a discipline. You will look at how history is a subject that sits between the social sciences and the arts, and often avoids reflecting on its own practice. You will consider what 'writing history' actually entails and what possibilities it offers, considering how history has proliferated over the last decade, both in the growth of scholoarly monographs and articles, and in the field of public history with its television serials, trade books, and museum displays.

Studying and Communicating the Past

In this module you will develop an understanding of the range, scope and depth of historical archives. You will learn how to uncover documents and artefacts, and how to construct a convincing historical story. You will interpret a variety of evidence including written texts, recorded interviews, film and photography and material objects, as well as look at some key interpretative methods such as oral and transnational history. You will hear from a number of visiting speakers who are specialists and practitioners, examining a range of theoretical approaches to historical interpretation.


You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervsior, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length. 

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

The Material Culture of Homelife - European Households, 1400 to 1850

In this module you will develop an understanding of the key historiographical debates on the changing nature of European homelife between 1400 and 1850. You will look at the growing specialisation of furnishing and domestic space, the rise of privacy, the rise in consumption, the decline of the home as a productive space, and the social meanings of things. You will examine the role of material in early modern social and cultural hhistory, including the construction of class, gender and other forms of indentity, with a particular focus on comparing differences between Italy and England.

Conflict, Faith and Terror in the Middle East Since 1945

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic issues of conflict over sources in the Middle East. You wil look at conflicts in Palestine-Israel, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and the Persian Gulf, examining the origins of these conflicts particularly in the light of the prevailing discourse in contemporary politics and the press. You will examine whether these are more concerned with religion, or with resources, considering the role of Islam and of western, especially American, perceptions of Islam.

Public Decency and Private Morals - Twentieth Century British History

In this module you will develop an understanding of the political, economic, social and cultural moments that structured the experience of the British people in the twentieth century. You will look at the social construction of contemporary problems, examining how the twin demands of order and liberty influenced decision making in politics. You will examine a variety of source materials used to study British history and historiographical debates, and learn to evaluate these in the context of wider secondary literature.

Utopia, Dystopia and Modernity

In this module you will develop an understanding of the role played by utopianism and dystopianism in the development of modern political thought, focussing primarily on the 18th to 20th centuries, including consideration for British, American, French and German sources, ideologies and communal movements. You will look at attempts made to create vastly-improved societies, particularly in the socialist vein, as well as expliantions for their failure, and where relevant, their success. You will consider utopianism as a specific reaction to aspects of modernity, such as industrialisation, urban alienation, loss of traditional forms of belief and authority, and the growth of democracy and inequality. You will also examine accounts of dystopia to contextualise modern despotisms in light of historical despotic practices and theories.

Looking at the Victorians - Visual and Material Culture in Britain, 1837-1901

In this module you will develop an understanding of the visual and material world of Victorian Britain between 1837 and 1901. You will look at the key changes in art, photography, and architecture, as well as consumption, popular culture and the use of built space. You will examine the role of the visual and the material in the construction of key narratives in Victorian economic, social and cultural history, including class, gender, and other forms of identity.

The Infidel Within? Muslims in the West

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of  Muslims in the west. You will look at the foundation of Islam as a world religion and its various denominations and traditions in western states from the 1800s through to the 21st century. You will consider contemporary issues such as identity, divided loyalties, gender relations, and perceptions held by the majority and non-Muslim community. You will examine points of conflict between Muslims and wider society, including continuity, adjustment, and the war on terror.

Faith, Politics, and the Jews of Europe, 1848 to 1918

In this mdoule you will develop an understanding of the transformation of Judaism and Jewish identity during the late 19th Century, and the emergence of secular Jewish ideologies and movements. You will look at the emergence of conservative Jewish movements opposed to assimilation and the response to anti-Jewish movements and ideologies from the late 1870s onwards, including the Dreyfus Affair. You will examine the impact of internal migration in the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, and the mass migration of East European Jews to Germany, France and Britain from the 1880s to the 1910s. You will consider the legislation in the Tsarist Empire, anti-Jewish riots, and the Jewish response in the form of new secular ideologies and movements, including Jewish socialism, Diaspora nationalism and Zionism.

History of the Holocaust

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic issues with regard to historical debate about the Holocaust. You will look at the nature of the roles of ideological, structural and other factors in the emergence and implementation of the Holocaust. You will examine the history of the Jews from the emancipation period onwards, considering the emergence of political antisemitism in Germany and Austria, the rise to power of Nazism, the Euthanasia Programme and its relationship with the persecution of the Jews, and Nazi policy vis-à-vis the Jews and other victims, including Afro-Germans, homosexuals, and Soviet prisoners of war. You will evaluate the Holocaust from the point of view of Nazi persecution and the responses of its victims.

Interpreting the Holocaust

In this module you will develop an understanding of the theoretical approaches to the Holocaust. You will look at the ways in which historians' positions and use of sources are influenced by their theoretical and methodological assumptions. You will examine the ways in which sociological and anthropological texts, testimony and memoir, film, art, photography, comics, museums and monuments relating to the Holocaust are handled. You will consider the key theoretical explanations for the Holocaust, suchas modernity and genocide, the politics of Holocaust memory, and contemporary discussions about memorialisation.

Gendering the Modern Islamic World

In this module you will develop an understanding of the issue of gender in the early formative years of Islam and the emerging relationship between gender, the state and society. You will look at how the ‘normative role’ for Muslim women and men evolved before 1800 and the impact of both religious reform and of secular modernisation in the 19th and 20th centuries on the lives and experience of women and men living in a varitety of Muslim societies. You will look at changes in individual states and regions, examining particular issues, such as the wearing of the veil, that have aroused significant debate among Muslisms and non-Muslims alike. You will also consider the changing way in which gender issues in general, and those connected with Muslim women in particular, have been viewed by outsiders – comparing and contrasting for example the writings of 19th cenury European travellers with more contemporary analyses provided by late 20th century western anthropologists and journalists.

Leading Thinkers of the Islamic Revival

In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of knowledge in the Islamic tradition, the role of the transmitters of knowledge, and the challenges presented by political decline and Western domination. You will look at the ideas of two key figures in the early movement of revival, Muhammad Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab and Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi, and the concern of these early revivalists to reassert the unity of God (tawhid), to remove all accretions which threatened that unity, and to address revelation afresh. You will examine the work of Hali, as a poet expressing despair at the decline of Islam, and Nazir Ahmad and Ashraf `Ali Thanawi, who represent different strategies for the refashioning of the self. You will also consider the political Islam and the Islamist ideas and movements of Mawlana Maududi and Sayyid Qutb, their rejection of the West, and their focus on capturing the modern state.

African American Islam, the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X

In this module you will develop an understanding of the historiography of African American Islamic thought, the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X. You will look at African American Islamic particularism and its impact on the development of the Nation of Islam. You will consider ongoing debates surrounding Malcolm X’s career in the organisation, his assassination and commercialisation of his death. You will examine the historiography of the Resurrected Nation of Islam and the broader context of African American Islam and Black Nationalist thought in the US. You will also analyse the new historiography of Nation of Islam gender politics and contemporary post-racial discourse.

China and the Wider World Since 1949

In this module you will develop an understanding of the changing nature of China’s relations with the world and regional powers during the Cold War period. You will look at the underlying forces that shaped China’s policies, such as ideology, domestic politics, and personality. You will examine the main historiographical debates about Chinese foreign policy and foreign relations, and consider the Cold War history of China’s external relations in context of contemporary debates on China’s role in the 'new strategic triangle' of the globalised world.

Unforgettable Encounters with the West - Knowledge Transformation in Modern China

In this module you will develop an understanding of modern Chinese history and orientalism. You will look at the issues of Chinese modernity from both Chinese and Western perspectives, starting with Matteo Ricci and his maps. You will examine China in terms of both its material culture and intellectual history, from role of the opium trade and Christianity through to the impact of western political ideas and communication in Chinese society. You consider Chinese history through museum and archival resources in the UK, with a particular focus on material life and print culture.

Asian Cities - Gateways to the History and Culture of a Continent

In this module you will develop an understanding of the socio-political and cultural history of a range of Asian cities and societies with a particular focus on their economic integration. You will look at the modern Indian Ocean economy, the more formal structures of domination in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the emergence of Asian cities as major drivers of contemporary globaliation. You will examine key issues such as the relationship between economies and polities, the impact of mercantile, colonial and post-colonial modernity, and the relationship between socio-economic change and spatial structures. You will also cosnider public and private experiences of modernisation, and their representation in literature, architecture and other arts.

Culture Wars - A Genealogy of the European Civil Wars between 1917 and 1947

In this module you will develop an understanding of how in the mid-twentieth century, European states, societies and nations were reconstructed through the execution, imprisonment and castigation of compatriots. You will look at the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft, Soviet gulags, and the brutal recasting of state and society via the creation of categories of the ‘anti-nation’, i.e persons without civil rights. You will examine the genealogy of these forms in context of the politics, culture and society of Europe after the Great War. You will consider the factors that facilitated or reinforced ‘brutal categorisation’, or were manifestations of it, including deep psychological fears of social and economic change, pathological ways of thinking, and segregationist forms of social and political organisation.

Fascism, Then and Now - The European Far Right in a Transnational Frame

In this module you will develop an understanding of the porosity of Europe's, politics and cultures, along with its interconnected history. You will look at how ultra-nationalist ideas and movements have shaped facism, and the overall history and ideology of the far-right. You will examine the the circulation of far-right doctrines, strategies and activists across state-borders, the cultural and political activism of intellectuals and other right-wing figures, as well as the commonality of behaviours between several permutations of European fascism up to the present day. You will consider the reshaping of fascist ideas since 1945, including adaptation to the democratic environment, the role played by decolonisation and 1968, the impact of immigration on European societies, and new forms of mobilisation, such as sport, music, demonstrations, globalization, anti-EU stances, anti-Islam standpoints, and austerity politics across the old continent.

Recording the Crusades - The Memory of the Crusades

In this module you will develop an understanding of the memory, impact and legacy of the crusades in the West and Muslim world since the medieval period. You will look at the evolution and mutation of the crusading idea over the last 200 years, examining the European colonial and imperial powers adopted crusading during the nineteenth century, and how the idea was used in World War 1 and by General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. You will consider how historians have interpreted the subject, starting with Michaud in the early nineteenth century, moving through Grousset (1920s), Erdmann (1930s), Runciman (1950s), Prawer, Richard and Mayer (1970s) to Riley-Smith, Housley and Tyerman (contemporary). You will also analyse how the crusade and the jihad have been treated in the Muslim world, tracing colonial and imperialist views through the twentieth century to the present day, including use by Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Arab Nationalists such as President Nasser of Egypt and President Hafez al-Asad of Syria. 

Women, the Crusades, and the Frontier Societies of Medieval Christendom, 1000 to 1300

In this module you will develop an understanding of how the crusading movement arose at a time of significant change for women. You will look at the effects of the Gregorian Reform and contemporary societal change on women’s traditional roles. You will examine how medieval historians used gendered language and moral tales to express their disapproval of women who took the cross, and the role of women in supporting crusader battles, often becoming the casualties of warfare. You will consider the role of noble women in providing political stablibility through regency and marriage after the First Crusade in the Latin society established in the East, and the effects of crusading on women who remained in the West.

Museum Skills

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history and nature of the museum sector in Britain. You will be taught at the Museum of London, where you will explore the nature of museum collections, how these are acquired and cared for, and how museums go about using these collections to communicate to a range of audiences. You will consider how archaeological and early social history collections can be used for research, and examine how exhibitions and other museum projects are organised.

Politics and Religion in the Middle East Since 1914

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of the Middle East in the twentieth century. You will look at the outbreak of the First World War that destroyed the old Ottoman order, the impact of European colonialism, the fortunes of postcolonial states during the Cold War, and the age of American hegemony. You will examine the growth of political Islam that challenged the mainly secularist establishments, considering examples such as authoritarianism in Egypth, sectarianism in Syria and Lebanon, the politics of oil in Saudia Arabia, and the Irainian revolution. You will analyse the creation of the modern Middle Eastern state system in the aftermath of the First World War, and explore the historical roots of the current crisis in the Middle East.

A Transnational Holocaust

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history, impact and memory of forced movement of Jewish victims of the Nazi regime outside of the familiar places of ghettos and camps. You will look at the transnational and translocal history of the Holocaust, beginning in the mid-1920s and concluding in the early 1950s, including the founding of Israel, the esetablishment of the Displaced Persons Act in the USA, the division of Germany, and the UN refugee convention. You will examine the journeys and experiences of victims of forced movement and their emerging spatial agency in new locations, and also focus on the geo-political contexts of the locations they moved through and stayed in. You will consider emerging research in Holocaust studies on refugee diasporas, transnationalism, and landscapes of the Holocaust, and analyse literature on postwar Europe, humanitarian relief organizations, and histories of asylum seeking pertinent to Jewish, European and as relevant, refugee diasporas in regional locations of Africa, the Caribbean and South America.

Genocide - Comparative Approaches

In this module you will develop an understanding of the comparative approaches to the study of genocide. You will examine comparative themes central to modern scholarship, such as modernity, state violence, and gender, and others arising from the phenomenon itself, such as child transfers and the use of memories of past violence to justify genocide in the present. You will consider the complex causes and dynamics of genocide, with case studies analysing colonial genocide in North America and Australia, and the mass killings in Darfur at the beginning of the 21st century.

Feminism in Modern Britain

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of feminism in Britain between the mid-ninetieth and the end of the twentieth century. You will look at the varied formation, configuration and contestation of feminist politics and activism. You will consider the development of feminist political thought, as well as diverse histories of activism and campaigning. You will examine key historiographical debates surrounding feminism and the state, body politics and sexualities, women’s work, family life, and feminist political thought.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework and a dissertation.

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in history or other relevant discipline.

Non-standard applications are also viewed sympathetically.  Applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and we accept a broad range of qualifications (including first degrees in subjects other than History).

An interview and sample essay may be required if we would like more information upon which to base a decision. Applicants unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies please see here

If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor you study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

Additional information:

  • An interview and sample essay may be required if we would like more information upon which to base a decision. Applicants unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

On completion of your History Masters degree at Royal Holloway you will have developed and finessed skills, such as research, analysis and presenting, which will appeal to future employers. Your degree also demonstrates that you enjoy being challenged, understand complex issues as well as other values and cultures, all of which will equip you to operate successfully in a fast-changing and increasingly globalised and multi-cultural environment.  On graduation you will have ideally placed to develop your career in areas that involve the professional creation, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge or wish to progress towards a PhD in History.  

Our Careers team will work with you to enhance your employability and prepare you for the choices ahead. Their support doesn’t end when you graduate; you can access the service for up to two years after graduation.

  • Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years have entered roles such as university lecturer, archivist, curator, journalist, librarian, PR consultant, teacher, freelance researcher, radio producer and a wide variety of other jobs within the ‘knowledge industries’. This course also equips you with a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £7,200

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £14,900

Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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