MA or PGDip or PGCert

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: PGCert: 4 months, PGDip: 9 months, MA: 12 months

Part time: PGCert: 2 semesters, PGDip: 3 semesters, MA: 24 months,

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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Political turmoil. Changes in the concept of punishment. Beliefs about magical beings. History provides insight into the past to help us understand the present and to explore how the world has changed. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a graduate looking for your next steps, our MA History will challenge your thinking and give you the freedom to explore.

You’ll begin with a core module to help you study effectively at postgraduate level and prepare for completing your dissertation. Then it’s up to you to pick from our options. You might look at areas that dominate the news, or maybe you’re eager to explore a certain time period. 

Whatever you choose, you’ll learn from our leading researchers so what you learn will reflect the most recent developments in various historical fields.

You can expect 1-1 time and detailed feedback on your work. And there are often guest speakers on campus too. Recent speakers include, Gary Sheffield, military historian, author and History Channel contributor, and Lord Powell, foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Attend an open day or webinar Ask a question Order a prospectus

Male History, MA/PGDip/PGCert degree course student listening to a lecture at Oxford Brookes University

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Small tutorial groups

    We’ve created a supportive space where your voice will be heard in discussions and debates. You can expect individual feedback on work from your tutors too.

  • Freedom to explore

    Study the core module then spend the rest of your time looking at the areas that interest you with support from our subject specialists.

  • Research-informed teaching 

    Our modules are all informed by our research so that you’re up to date with the latest developments in the field.

  • Insightful guest lectures 

    Join us for talks from former policymakers, historical experts and academics with specialist knowledge in areas like national security.

  • Toolkit of skills 

    Returning to education? We’ve designed a module that will give you the skills you need to study at postgraduate level.

Course details

Course structure

Studying history at Oxford Brookes isn’t about sitting in a lecture theatre, it’s about joining discussions and debates in small tutorial groups. It’s about having the freedom to unpick and analyse the topics that really interest you.

We’ve designed a core module to give you all the skills you need to work at postgraduate level and think like a historian. You’ll debate vital questions including: How do historians write about the past? What methods can we use to understand past events? Why is it important to study the past?

Our modules on war and crime are particularly popular with students, but there are plenty of others to choose from too. Eugenics and biopolitics, technology and religion are just a few topics you might decide to explore with support from our specialists.

You’ll complete a dissertation as part of the course and it’s completely up to you what it covers. Perhaps one of your modules will give you an idea, or you may already know what you want to look at. Past students have chosen everything from criminal gangs in London to American military strategy in World War I.

Female History, MA/PGDip/PGCert degree course student studying at Oxford Brookes University

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching methods, including:

  •  small-group seminars
  •  discussion groups
  •  workshops
  •  individual tutorials 
  •  historiographical and bibliographical presentations.

As a part-time student you will attend the University one evening per week. You will need to spend an additional 12–15 hours per week on private study.

As a full-time student you will attend classes on two evenings per week. You will spend 30 hours per week in private study.


You will be assessed entirely by written work. There are no examinations.

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Theories, Methods and Practices in History

    This is a compulsory core module in advanced historical studies, which helps you make the transition from undergraduate to graduate-level work. We’ll introduce you to a variety of perspectives on theory and method in history, and you’ll acquire the advanced study skills you need to engage in independent research. You’ll also receive training in the use of electronic research resources.

Optional modules

Age of the Anthropocene: Energy, Technology and the Environment since 1800

We are living through an era in history in which humankind has become the dominant agent of change: the ‘Anthropocene’. Explore the history of this age since 1800, with a focus on Britain and other Western nations. Delve into the interrelated processes of energy management, technological advancement and capitalist development that define this era. Analyse the genesis of these projects, driven by technological innovation, humanitarian concerns and industrial expansion.

Critically examine the Anthropocene's impact on the Earth system across various spheres, among them the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, and how this developed through various historical processes including the industrial revolution, the rise of the Western diet, urbanisation and the post-1945 'Great Acceleration.' You'll be challenged to think about your own agency in relation to the Anthropocene and how we might use history to help resolve one of the biggest challenges that humankind has ever faced.

History in Practice

In this module, you’ll have the chance to undertake a placement or work-related project closely linked to your History course. You’ll have help to find a placement that will align with your interests and future career goals. These may involve working in education or community outreach, curation, preservation, and heritage, or in academic historical research.  Past placements have included:
  • The Ashmolean Museum
  • The Oxford Preservation Trust
  • The Royal Air Force Museum-The Museum of Oxford
Students typically spend a few hours each week at their placement throughout the semester. During this time, regular workshops with the Module Leader will help you reflect on what you're learning. Practical advice on CV and job application writing will also be given to help you kickstart your career after Oxford Brookes. At the end of the module you will produce a written portfolio and poster presentation reflecting on your placement experience.

American Colossus: US Domestic and Foreign Politics, 1945-2012

You’ll explore the rise of the United States from the end of the Second World War, through the Cold War, and up to the present day. By looking at domestic politics, international relations, and economic and military affairs, you’ll develop a keener appreciation of how the American state evolved in the 20th century as the major world power.

Behaving Badly: Crime, Deviance and Civilization

You’ll examine comparative themes in the history of law, crime and 'bad behaviour' from 1500 to the present. You’ll study the fundamental issues that have preoccupied historians of crime and the regulation of forms of behaviour that society considers unacceptable. You’ll cover many topics, which may include:

  • the growth of law enforcement agencies
  • changes in the concept of punishment
  • family violence
  • juvenile crimes
  • crimes of sex and sexuality
  • the ‘criminal underclass’
  • gendered perceptions of crime and bad behaviour. 

Monsters and Magical Beings: Medieval Lore to Pop Culture

From the Middle Ages to the present, cultural constructions of magicians and magical beings have fulfilled a variety of human needs – they have been scapegoats and role models, symbols of fear and of desire. This module suggests sociocultural explanations for the various stages of these complex developments. You’ll investigate the influence of the Enlightenment, the rise of a mass market for entertainment culture, and the modern cultures of childhood and youth.

Religion, Doubt and Secularism in Modern Britain and the US

You’ll examine the complex history of belief and unbelief, faith and reason, during a time often associated with growing secularisation. You’ll think critically about the nature of morality in the Victorian period, in particular the spiritual eclecticism of those who rejected Christian dogma.

The Road to Brexit: Britain and the European Communities, 1945-2016

You’ll look at how the subject of ‘Europe’ came to dominate post-war British politics, splitting political parties, bringing down governments and Prime Ministers, and dividing opinion more bitterly and deeply than any other subject. We’ll attempt to assess why exactly the subject was so divisive, and examine the different views taken about ‘ever closer union’ since 1945.

America at War: from the Revolution to the War on Terror

The United States remains the greatest military power in the world. With the broad support of its citizenry. The US Government continues to support the application of military force in settling international disputes as a natural and justifiable option for their republic. 

Given the long historical roots of this phenomenon an analysis of the history of the threat and use of force must be undertaken within the unique American setting. 

You will be able to engage with and take part in an examination of the evolution of the US armed forces as an integral part of the American Republic. You will then be able to assess its broader impacts on all aspects of international society. From the birth of the American Republic in the late 18th century to the contemporary age.


The Reformation and the Parish Church

You’ll learn how the abstract theological debates of the Reformation had a great impact on the lives of ordinary people. The churches in which they worshipped were remodelled, and the traditional Catholic rituals and practices that governed their lives were reformed. By focusing on one key feature of the Reformation – changing attitudes towards the parish church – you’ll examine the impact the Reformation had on art, architecture, music and sculpture.

History That Was Not: Counterfactuals and Alternate History

You’ll examine the uses and abuses of counterfactual constructions in historiography and in popular culture – where alternative versions of history are proposed and explored, based on what did not happen, or what might have happened. You’ll explore counterfactual narratives in novels, games, movies and design. You’ll focus on questions of historical causality and so-called ‘laws’ of history, and the interrelations between historiography, philosophy, literature and art.

Armies, Immigrants, and Gangs: The History of the U.S.-Mexican Border

The U.S. - Mexican border has been the site of diplomatic disputes over trade, tariffs, and immigration. Recently the border has become a lightning rod for arguments over a host of domestic issues. From drug abuse and gang violence to race relations and migrant labour. 

You'll explore how nation-states attempt to police their borders. Also looking at how populations on the ground can thwart these efforts. You'll look at nomadic Native American tribes and runaway slaves in the 1800s to drug cartels and immigrant workers in the modern era.  

In the 19th century U.S. citizens often viewed their Mexican neighbours as uncivilised and ignorant. And had determination to keep Mexico's degenerative influences from polluting the United States. To defend an imagined divide between a prosperous land from a dangerous neighbour.

You'll learn how it played a central role in shaping the United States’ national identity in the past.  And why and how it exercises so much power in U.S. politics today.

Worlds of Risk: Technology, Health and the Environment 'Risk'

You’ll reflect on the novelty of the present age, and explore questions about when and how understanding and managing risks became such a key feature of modern societies. You’ll take a critical and historical perspective on a series of contemporary risks, among them climate change and technological catastrophes, and the dangers that have accompanied the rise of new technologies, particularly synthetic chemicals, drugs, artificial foodstuffs, and the nuclear industry. You’ll focus particularly on Britain, France, Germany and the USA.

Engineering Society: Eugenics and Biopolitics, 1860-1945

You’ll examine comparative themes in the history of eugenics, racism, biopolitics and anthropology from 1800 to 1945. You’ll study the fundamental issues that have preoccupied historians of biology, science and modernity since the 1800s and combine these with specific case studies from a wide range of European countries.

Terrorism in History

You''ll discuss terrorism from the extreme right as well as from the extreme left. Including fundamentalist religious groups, ecoterrorism as well as ethno-nationalist terrorism. You will adopt a critical approach to the expanding secondary literature and media coverage of terrorism.

You'll gain the ability to carry out an in-depth study of a particular terrorist episode. Or a terrorist organization through a seminar presentation and an extended essay assignment.

Topics covered can include terrorist organizations, such as:

  • the Russian anarchists,
  • the Fenians,
  • the IRA,
  • the Weather Underground,
  • the Red Army Faction,
  • Action Directe,
  • Sendero Luminoso,
  • National Socialist Underground,
  • jihadists including Al-Qaeda and ISIS,
  • as well as lone-wolf terrorists.

State-sponsored terrorism, cyber-terrorism and the cooperation between terrorism and organized crime as well as the media coverage of terrorist activities will be discussed.

The Hospital in History

You’ll explore the origins and transformations of the hospital in its social context, from the monastic hospital of the middle ages to the psychiatric hospital. You’ll develop an understanding of three core issues and how they have developed over time:

  • the hospital as an organisation and institution dependent on different forms of funding 
  • the hospital as a site of diverse specialist personnel and patients’ shifting experiences
  • the hospital as a social phenomenon, deeply embedded in local communities and communal values.

Blasphemy from the Ancient to the Contemporary World

Blasphemy has been a crime that has endured since ancient times. It has survived and rejuvenated to appear in the twenty-first century. 

You'll explore the changing history of blasphemy. From a form of discipline through to its emergence in the contemporary period as a species of hate crime. It is a crime that has implicated: 

  • unbelievers
  • gamblers
  • marginal individuals
  • political radicals
  • writers
  • artists
  • filmmakers 
  • and users of social media. 

You'll investigate the meanings and significance of blasphemy at very different stages of its history.

You will learn through a case study approach. You will encounter a range of:

  • blasphemous utterances
  • art works
  • sculpture
  • cartoons
  • satirical writing
  • works of fiction
  • religious criticism
  • film
  • television
  • journalism
  • music video
  • social media content
  • and ‘cases’ against these. 

You will investigate the outcomes from these and the response of the law within the respective cultures and societies involved.


Renaissances: Space and Society in Europe, 1400-1600

You'll explore the contradictory and competing histories of the period. You'll analyse continuity and change between the 15th and 17th centuries. You'll look at:

  • Political turmoil
  • Cultural achievement
  • Environmental change
  • Demographic change
  • Technological change

You'll engage with familiar stories of the Italian and Northern Renaissances. And lesser-known examples from Spain and Switzerland. You'll look at significant spaces in Renaissance cities. Engaging with the perspectives and experiences of the Renaissance. You'll use material culture and architecture, including textual sources. Revealing the impact of the Renaissance from royal courts to everyday experiences.

Understanding Civil War: Russia, Spain, Greece

You’ll examine three case studies in civil conflict in the 20th century. You’ll analyse a variety of themes from international relations to the dynamics of clan violence. Through your study in this module, we aim to introduce you to the practice of comparative history, historical sociology and the analytical study of civil conflict. (This module runs in the afternoon.)

Independent Study Module

Carry out independent study on a topic that fascinates you, and which is not covered by our modules. You might choose a topic that you’ve become interested in through the MA programme, or which reflects other interests. You’ll work independently, engaging directly with primary source material. With support from your supervisor, you’ll develop your understanding of research methods. Usually, students complete an extended, research-based essay (6,000 words), although alternative forms of assessment can be permitted with your supervisor’s agreement. 

Examples of topics studied include:

  • Studies on asylums in the Netherlands
  • American grand strategy during the Second World War
  • The Battle of Arras
  • Criminal gangs in London
  • Russian Civil War, 1917-1922.

Final project

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (History)

    This is the second compulsory, and the capstone of the MA in History. You will have the opportunity to conduct a major in-depth investigation into a historical topic of your choice, leading to the production of a 15,000-word thesis (including footnotes).

    The topic may be related to one of your elective modules or may be chosen from another area of your interest. You will be supported in your research by individual supervision from a specialist tutor and by group workshops on advanced research design that take place in Semester 2 (for part-time students this is taken in Year 2). The dissertation is completed over the summer and is submitted on the last Friday in September.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


Our historians are regarded as experts in their field and their research informs some of the key debates in society.

Principal research areas in which our teaching staff specialise include:

  • Early modern history
  • History of religion from the Reformation onwards
  • Health, medicine and society
  • Social and cultural history
  • History of art and visual culture
  • History of crime, deviance and the law
  • Modern political and international history

As well as meeting to discuss and analyse central texts in the field, each group undertakes a number of activities including organising work-in-progress seminars, and offering support and feedback for external grant applications.

The department boasts a wealth of research expertise and two important research centres:

Female student working in library


With a combination of specialist knowledge and advanced training, you’ll graduate confident in your ability to research, write and develop your own work. This puts you in the ideal position to continue your academic study or kickstart your career in this area.

Students who have completed this course have secured a range of roles. A significant number decide to use their skills to inspire the next generation as secondary school history teachers.

You’ll be the perfect match for careers in:

  • archive management
  • law
  • local government
  • journalism 
  • the civil service
  • the military.

Success in these sectors depends on excellent research and analysis skills, and you’ll be able to show employers that you tick all the boxes.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Professor Johannes Dillinger

Dillinger is mainly interested in early modern history. He is currently working on the history of early modern terrorism, the cult of relics and a microstudy of a border community between France and Germany.

Read more about Johannes

Professor Katherine Watson

To understand our criminal justice system, it is crucial to understand the long-running historical debate on the nature, incidence and causes of crime, as well as the way in which medicine has played an active part in shaping legal, political and social change. Dr Watson’s specialist teaching focuses on the origins of these foundations of modern legal practice, while her broader teaching considers the wider socio-political contexts within which these practices developed.

Read more about Katherine

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,750 (Masters); £8,750 (Diploma); £4,875 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£9,950 (Masters); £8,950 (Diploma); £4,975 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£9,750 (Masters); £8,750 (Diploma); £4,875 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time
£9,950 (Masters); £8,950 (Diploma); £4,975 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400


Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.


All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.