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MA History


School of History, Philosophy and Culture

  • The MA in History at Oxford Brookes is a highly flexible programme, offered in a close, supportive, tutorial-style environment. It aims to build on your interest in History to help you develop your knowledge and skills as a practising historian. 

The programme has been shaped by leading researchers in our department. This means that the modules offered reflect the most recent developments in various historical fields. 

We offer core skills training modules and the opportunity, in the form of independent study and dissertation modules, to conduct research on topics of your choosing. This freedom, combined with advanced training, will enable you to graduate confident in your ability to research, write and develop your own work, which puts you in the ideal position to pursue further academic study, or new lines of endeavour.

We welcome further enquiries – please contact the MA Subject Coordinator, Dr Viviane Quirke, or the History Programme Administrator history@brookes.ac.uk

de Rohan scholarship available for September 2019 entry


Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: PGCert: 4 months, PGDip: 9 months, MA: 12 months
  • Part time: PGCert: 2 semesters, PGDip: 3 semesters, MA: 24 months,

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You will benefit from being taught by a team of research-active historians; internationally renowned scholars who publish in their areas of expertise. 
  • The History field at Oxford Brookes is recognised as a centre of academic excellence in both teaching and research.
  • You will be introduced to a variety of perspectives on theory and method in history, and you will acquire the advanced study skills needed to develop the capacity to engage in independent research.
  • We include all aspects of our research interests in the History MA course, teaching modules and supervising dissertations that reflect our specialist subjects.  
  • The course provides an excellent preparation for students intending to go on to PhD research and will also be of interest to graduates wishing to pursue advanced study in History.

The MA in History consists of four modules: a compulsory core module, two elective modules and a dissertation. Postgraduate diploma students take Modules 1, 2 and 3. Postgraduate certificate students take Module 1 and one elective module.

Module 1: Key Concepts and Methods in Historical Research

Every student takes this compulsory core module in advanced historical studies, which is designed to help make the transition from undergraduate to graduate-level work. You will be introduced to a variety of perspectives on theory and method in history, and you will acquire the advanced study skills needed to develop the capacity to engage in independent research. You will also receive training in the use of electronic research resources. This module is taken in Semester 1 and is assessed by two written assignments. There is no exam.

Modules 2 and 3: Elective modules

Research is fundamental to our MA in History programme. It informs all of our teaching and enjoys an international reputation, attracting both high quality staff and students. The topics of these modules thus reflect the specific research expertise of the staff in the department.

Applicants are encouraged to visit the staff webpages of the module leaders for full information regarding their research interests. Further information regarding each module is also available from the MA Subject Co-ordinator for History.

Master's students choose two elective modules, enabling the close study of topics in two different areas of historical analysis. The modules on offer are as follows:

  • Studying Civil War: Russia, Spain, Greece examines three case studies in civil conflict in the 20th century. In analysing a variety of themes from international relations to the dynamics of clan violence, the module introduces students to the practice of comparative history, historical sociology and the analytical study of civil conflict. (This module runs in the afternoon.) Module leader: Dr Erik Landis
  • American Colossus: US Domestic and Foreign Politics, 1945-2012 explores 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, students will have a keener appreciation of the evolution of the American state in the 20th century as an actor at home and abroad. Module leader: Dr Thomas Robb
  • Religion, Doubt and Secularism in Modern Britain and the US examines the complex history of belief and unbelief, faith and reason, during a time often associated with growing secularisation. It encourages students to think critically about the nature of morality in the Victorian period, in particular the spiritual eclecticism of those who sought to reject Christian dogma. Module leader: Professor David Nash
  • Behaving Badly: Crime, Deviance and Civilization examines comparative themes in the history of law, crime and 'bad behaviour' from 1500 to the present. Students will be given the opportunity to study the fundamental issues that have pre-occupied historians of crime and the regulation of forms of behaviour society considers unacceptable. Module leader: Dr Cassie Watson
  • The Reformation and the Parish Church considers the impact of the Reformation on the lives of ordinary people. The churches in which they worshipped were remodelled, whilst the traditional Catholic rituals and practices that governed their lives were reformed. In particular the module will examine the impact that the Reformation had upon art, architecture, music and sculpture. Module leader: Professor Andrew Spicer
  • Britain and Europe, 1950-2010 looks at how the subject of ‘Europe’ has come 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. This course will attempt to assess why exactly the subject was so divisive, and examine the different views taken about ‘ever closer union’ since 1950. Module leader: Professor Glen O’Hara
  • Worlds of Risk: Technology, Health and the Environment ‘Risk’ encourages students to reflect on the novelty of the present age, and to explore questions about when and how understanding and managing risks became such a key feature of modern societies. It provides 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. Module leader: Dr Tom Crook with Dr Viviane Quirke
  • Engineering Society: Eugenics and Biopolitics, 1860-1945 examines comparative themes in the history of eugenics, racism, biopolitics, anthropology and modernity from 1800 to 1945. Students will be given the opportunity to study the fundamental issues that have pre-occupied historians of biology, science and modernity since the 1800s and combine these with specific case studies from a wide range of European countries: Dr Marius Turda
  • The Hospital in History provides a long-term analysis of the origins and transformations of the hospital in its social context. The module covers changing organisational forms, funding, medical specialisation, therapeutic innovations, patients, public perceptions, and the broader politics of hospital development within western and non-European contexts. Module leader: Dr Viviane Quirke
  • History That Was Not: Counterfactuals and Alternate History examines the uses and abuses of counterfactual constructions in historiography and in popular culture, including novels, games, movies and design. It focuses on the underlying problems of historiographical conception - especially questions of historical causality and so-called ‘laws’ of history - and the interrelations between historiography, philosophy, literature and art. Module leader: Professor Johannes Dilinger
  • Monsters and Magical Beings: Medieval Lore to Pop Culture Integrates the seemingly contradictory narratives about magical beings into a coherent timeline that offers a longue-duree perspective from the Middle Ages to the present. It suggests sociocultural explanations for the various stages of these complex developments, investigating the influence the Enlightenment, the rise of a mass market for entertainment culture, and the modern cultures of childhood and youth. Module leader: Professor Johannes Dilinger

Students also have the option of taking an Independent Study Module, which normally involves the completion of an extended, research-based essay (6,000 words) on a topic of their choice. The current module leader is Dr Viviane Quirke.

Each module lasts for one semester and is assessed by two or three written assignments. Full-time MA students take one elective module in each semester. Part-time MA students take their first elective in Semester 2 of the first year and their second elective in Semester 1 of the second year.

Module 4: Dissertation

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, the list of modules you choose from may vary from that shown here.

Further information on the History team at Brookes, including recent publications, can be found by visiting our staff profiles.

We welcome further enquiries – please contact the MA Subject Co-ordinator or the History Programme Administrator at history@brookes.ac.uk.

Teaching and learning

The MA course is taught through small-group seminars, discussion groups, workshops and individual tutorials as well as historiographical and bibliographical presentations. 

Classes are held in the evenings (except where indicated), and the sessions run from 1830 – 21:00. 

Part-time students attend the University one evening per week and should be able to devote an additional 12–15 hours per week to private study.

Full-time students attend classes on two evenings per week and spend 30 hours per week in private study. Assessment is entirely by written work. There are no examinations.

Shorter courses in History are also available: the postgraduate diploma and the postgraduate certificate. It is possible to transfer between these and the MA course.

Specialist facilities

Students have access to the Brookes Library and its Special Collections, as well as those of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History. Brookes s MA students also benefit from access to the world-famous Bodleian Library, a copyright library which houses all books published in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In addition to the Bodleian and its unparalleled collection of books and rare historical manuscripts, there are affiliated libraries such as Rhodes House, home to the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies, and the Vere Harmsworth Library of the Rothermere American Institute, where students will find one of the finest collections of publications on the Political, Economic and Social History of the United States from colonial times to the present.

Oxford is a lively centre for events, exhibitions, seminars and open lectures in various specialist areas of history, which staff and students at Brookes regularly attend.

The city is also an easy bus or train ride to London for convenient access to an even wider resource of historical materials. These include various seminars and lecture series offered by the University of London and the Institute of Historical Research. In addition, The National Archives at Kew, The British Library and other specialised libraries will be of particular interest to students.

Oxford is also within easy reach of other archival collections in Birmingham, Cambridge, Reading and Bristol.


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.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £6,120 (Masters) £5,510 (Diploma) £3,060 (Certificate) 2020/21: £7,500 (Masters) £6,500 (Diploma) £3,750 (Certificate)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £3,120 2020/21: £3,750

International - full time: 2019/20: £13,730 2020/21: £14,200

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

You should normally hold a 2:1 honours degree, or equivalent, in History or in a related subject. If it is some time since you completed your undergraduate education and you do not meet the standard requirement, it may be possible to consider your application based on evidence of other relevant personal and professional experience, the support of your referees and examples of written work.

Applicants may be asked to send a sample of recent academic writing in English together with the application form. If this is not possible, you may substitute a 1,500-word essay reviewing a recent academic book on a historical topic.

Applicants for research degrees should normally hold a master's degree in a subject appropriate to the proposed research topic and the same level of English language proficiency as required for the master's programmes.

Find out more about research degrees.

English language requirements

Please see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.


Students who have completed the MA in History have developed a variety of careers. A significant number have gone on to undertake PhD study and secondary school history teaching. Others have taken up careers in archive management; law; accountancy; local government; the civil service and at GCHQ - all jobs which require excellent research and analysis skills. The Brookes Careers service provides practical tips, training and advice for up to three years after graduation.

What our students say » 


How Brookes supports postgraduate students

We have a dedicated History librarian who is on hand to answer your enquiries, teach you information skills and guide you around the electronic resources on offer. The library also offers regular training sessions on accessing and making the best use of key resources in your specific subject area.

Support on the History MA is provided by an academic advisor to all students, and by an administrator. Between them, they ensure that all students are fully supported in relation to their module choices, enrolment and the ongoing administration of their course. In addition, Student Support Coordinators are there to give advice on using Brookes systems and process, as well as offering pastoral support and guidance on university life. They can also provide signposting to Disability and Counselling Services.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

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

Research areas and clusters

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:

Centre for Medical Humanities

The Centre was established in early 2015. It marks an exciting expansion and diversification of the work previously conducted through the Centre for Health, Medicine and Society which over the past 15 years has been the beneficiary of substantial support from both Oxford Brookes University and the Wellcome Trust. The CMH is building on this track record of outstanding research and grant successes, innovative teaching, career development and public outreach. Engaging with the expanding field of medical humanities, the CMH brings historians of medicine together with scholars from History, History of Art, Philosophy, Social and Life Sciences as well as Anthropology and Religion. It thus aims to foster genuine interdisciplinary collaboration amongst staff and students through a range of new research and teaching initiatives, which reflect the new concerns with the relationship between medicine and the humanities in the twenty-first century.

Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History

Oxford has a rich past in relation to the Church. It can claim to be the birthplace of Methodism, where john and Charles Wesley’s small religious society first met from 1730. The aim of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History is to embody the historic links between Oxford Brookes University and the Methodist Church through a programme of research activities and support for its special collections. The Centre organises lectures and seminars and has a significant publications programme. It also works in partnership with centres in Manchester, Durham and Cambridge.

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