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.
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:
- marginal individuals
- political radicals
- 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
- satirical writing
- works of fiction
- religious criticism
- 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