Taking an MA in History at Royal Holloway offers maximum flexibility to 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 theoretical, conceptual, practical and digital skills, making this degree for those looking to develop a career in areas that involve the professional creation, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge or wish to progress towards a PhD in History. This MA is also suitable for anyone wishing to return to the academic study of history after a break in order to pursue a passion for a historical period, to improve intellectual and communication skills, or to start a new career.
Depending upon your individual interests your customised module can have either a broad, or a more concentrated focus. The modules available cover Gender and Cultural history, British, European and World history, as well as Hellenic studies. Within this flexible MA History Module, you can also opt to take a specific ‘Pathway’ in either ‘Gender History’, ‘Hellenic Studies’, or ‘Histories of Conflict and Violence’ by choosing Optional Modules tailored each one. You will also take wide-ranging methodology and research skills modules which provide instruction in historical research, concepts and methods alongside developing a range of practical and communications skills that have proved valuable in the job market.
We are one of the largest and liveliest History departments in the UK, yet you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community.
We offer a wide range of postgraduate scholarships to help with funding your studies. We especially encourage eligible applicants to apply for one of the following:
Brian Harris scholarship – full tuition fee reduction plus £14,800 research, living and travel costs for UK students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree.
Dinah and Jessica Nichols scholarship – £12,000 scholarship for Home/EU or international students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree or equivalent.
Herringham scholarship – tuition fee reduction of £7,700 for Home/EU or international students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree or equivalent.
This module looks at history from the point of view of its practitioners. It approaches historians as academic researchers but also as social actors and cultural brokers both in dialogue with the past, but also part of the societies they inhabit. The module centres around a set of key questions that drive historical research as well as historiographical debate today. How do historians think and write about the past? Do they have a role to play in our globalized and very much present-minded world? And how has "history" become part of contemporary debates on identity politics, post-truth and the digital divide? To answer these questions, the module critically interrogates history’s ambivalent position between art and social science and asks how historical concepts and historical research practices intersect with methods of communicating the past to an academic and wider audience.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the range, scope and access to physical and digital archives, museums and resources. You will learn how to evaluate and interpret documents, recordings and artefacts; how to construct a convincing historical narrative; and how to effectively communicate your findings in print, oral and digital formats. You will interpret a variety of evidence including manuscript and printed texts, oral testimony, film and photography, and material objects, as well as look at some key interpretative methods such as oral and digital history. You will learn from members of staff who are experts in their fields and from visiting speakers who are specialists and practitioners, examining a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to historical interpretation and its communication to academic and public audiences.
You will carry out an extended piece of research on a topic of your choice from within the wide range of research expertise available within the History Department. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervisor, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 12,500 and 15,000 words in length.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
Optional modules may include:
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.
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 explanations 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.
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.
Text: What can the intensive study of a small unit of analysis – an individual, a family, a community – tell us about wider historical phenomena? That is the central question that underpins this module, which strives to explore and understand the gargantuan issues of race, ethnicity, and conflict in North America through a microhistorical approach. It does so by focusing on rich and detailed examples (through the close reading of five monographs) that stretch from the colonial period of the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century and offer us the viewpoints of men and women, slave and free, Euro-Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans. Through these intimate and diverse profiles we will endeavour to make sense of the turbulent history of race and conflict in North America from a multitude of perspectives.
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, such as modernity and genocide, the politics of Holocaust memory, and contemporary discussions about memorialisation.
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.
In this unique and ground-breaking 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 (especially) the last 200 years, examining how and why 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. We will also consider how the idea has taken on, in the West, a more secular meaning. You will analyse how crusade and jihad have been treated in the Muslim Near East, tracing cultural developments in theatre and poetry, as well as politics and religion, from the nineteenth to the present day, with particular emphasis on the figure of Saladin, the hero of the Muslim world for recovering Jerusalem from the crusaders. We will see how his image, and the memory of the crusades has been used by Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Arab Nationalists such as Nasser of Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hafez al-Asad of Syria and Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians.
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 stability through regency and marriage after the First Crusade in the Latin society established in the East, including the dramatic reign of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, and the effects of crusading on women who remained in the West.
This module explores the history of feminism in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The module explores the varied formation, configuration and contestation of feminist politics and activism, encouraging students to look beyond well-worn narratives of ‘waves’ of feminism. The module illuminates the development of feminist political thought, as well as diverse histories of activism and campaigning. Core themes include: feminism and the state; body politics and sexualities; women’s work; family life; and feminist political thought. Students are encouraged to develop their critical understanding of feminism through engagement with diverse primary material (including political texts, social surveys, photographs, film and oral histories) and via wide-ranging historical and multi-disciplinary scholarship.
This module examines the role of narrative in queer identity and queer life in modern and contemporary history. The lives of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) people have historically been silenced and marginalised within and by traditional dismodules. Therefore, this module will examine the ways in which queer people have sought to represent and analyse their own experiences through the narrative-driven mediums of oral history, film, and fiction. By using these ‘unconventional’ historical primary sources we will uncover how queer people have worked both with and against the grain of narrative in order to tell stories that are meaningful to them. Using archetypes and common narrative tropes queer people have sought to situate their lives and their stories within wider cultural dismodules. Nonetheless, we will also explore the concept of queer temporality, considering the potential for queer narratives to disrupt and challenge mainstream dismodules, even problematising chronology in the process. We will also consider how the narrative of queerness is slowly being integrated into the historical record, and the implications of this shift.
This option explores recent approaches (particularly those of the last decade) to British imperial and colonial history, placing particular emphasis on those which advocate a transnational or comparative approach. It allows students to develop an appreciation of the influence of postcolonial studies, geography, anthropology, and sociology on history writing in this context. Seminar topics can include settler colonialism, colonial violence, the material culture of empire, the relationship between metropole and colony, sex and gender, race and racism, imperial networks and trajectories, law and empire, and attempts to reconnect cultural and economic interpretations of empire.
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 establishment 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 geopolitical 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.
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.
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework and a dissertation.
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.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in History or a related subject in the Humanities or Social Sciences, but we will consider a high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘high 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.
A piece of written work may be required from applicants who do not meet the standard academic requirements.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £8,100
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,200
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.