The Royal Holloway MA in Public History is aimed at historians who are keen to engage the public by becoming experts in communicating ideas about the past in a range of spaces and media. It provides a unique gateway to the heritage and history sectors, as well as in public media, it therefore provides relevant learning opportunities if you wish to pursue a career in broadcasting or film, in museums, heritage, with community organisations or in journalism. It is also suited to academic historians who are looking for the theories, knowledge and skills to communicate their research in the most effective way to wider audiences.
The course was designed in collaboration with potential employers and is taught by staff and industry professionals who are well connected and up-to-date with the latest techniques. Through your studies you will develop professional skills of historical interpretation and communication and have the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals, including museum curators, public archivists, publishers and TV and radio producers. You will learn about the key theories that underpin public history, digital history and public engagement and become equipped to work in a sector undergoing constant development, where collaborating with other professionals and members of the public will be essential.
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. Our internationally renowned academics are developing the very latest thinking on historical problems and their interests range from the ancient to the contemporary.
In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of practical issues relating to the presentation of the past to contemporary audiences, including the interpretation of history in public and communal spaces and the management of heritage sites. You will look at ethical and legal matters, strategic planning and development, as well as awareness of a range of issues related to working with local communities, visitor survey and evaluation, exhibition planning, collection conservation, and education techniques for working in informal public spaces. You will examine debates relating to history in museums, community history, history as commemoration, history as apology and communicating with minorities about the past. You will also consider popular writing, history journalism, and history broadcasting, with the opportunity to visit several museums and galleries, experiencing how institutions and projects use archival, visual and material resources.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the core issues in communicating the public understanding of the past. You will learn how to plan, record and produce a variety of aural, written and visual projects. You will look at recent and current developments in the field of public communications in a variety of printed, audio and visual media. You will examine controversies in contemporary public history and heritage, archives and museums, and consider the interface between historical resources and public output, analysing how the public engages with history.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the theory and practice of oral history in the wider context of public history. You will look at a range of current theories within oral history, including experience, collective memory and social remembering. You will examine the relationship between individual narratives, group narratives and public memory, and the concept of historical consciousness. You will examine the ethical and legal implications of collecting and using oral history interviews, including the significance and implications of shared authority and the Copyright, Designs and Patenets Act (1998). You will also learn how to design questions and schedules, and how to conduct and evaluate an interview, considering the different ways an interview can be interpreted.
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.
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 scholarly monographs and articles, and in the field of public history with its television serials, trade books, and museum displays.
You will carry out an extended piece of research. 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 10,500 and 12,000 words in length or a comparative piece of work in another medium, such as a video or website.
All modules are core
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, and a final project with accompanying reflexive essay.
Candidates with professional qualifications and work experience in an associated area will also be considered.
- Applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and we accept a broad range of qualifications (including first degrees in subjects other than History).
- We occasionally invite candidates to an interview when we would like more information upon which to base a decision. If applicants are unable to attend, such as overseas students, we interview by telephone.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects 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
On completion of your MA in Public History at Royal Holloway you will be equipped to pursue a career in broadcasting or film, in museums, heritage, with community organisations or in journalism. You will also have started to develop a valuable network of producers and representatives from production companies and links within the industry. 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 many different areas, including working for an MP, as a Heritage Officer, teaching and marketing. This course also equips you with a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7700
International students tuition fee per year**: £16400
Other essential costs***: : £350 (£200 for travel to heritage sites for the Pathways to the Past module; £50 for travel and interview expenses for the Voice of the Public and Public Communication modules; book purchases across all units approximately £100).
* and ** 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home/EU tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
*** 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.