Taking your MA in History at Royal Holloway means that you will have maximum flexibility to fully 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 theories, concepts and practical skills, making this degree ideal if you are looking to develop your career in areas that involve the professional creation, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge or wish to progress towards a PhD in History.
Depending on your individual interests your bespoke course can have either a broad or concentrated focus. The courses available cover gender and cultural history, British, European and World history, as well as Hellenic studies. You will also take wide-ranging methodology and research skills training courses which provide instruction in historical research, help with practical skills such as chairing and working in groups and briefings on the applications of history in the job market.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic issues with regard to historical debate about the Holocaust. You will look at the nature of the roles of ideological, structural and other factors in the emergence and implementation of the Holocaust. You will examine the history of the Jews from the emancipation period onwards, considering the emergence of political antisemitism in Germany and Austria, the rise to power of Nazism, the Euthanasia Programme and its relationship with the persecution of the Jews, and Nazi policy vis-à-vis the Jews and other victims, including Afro-Germans, homosexuals, and Soviet prisoners of war. You will evaluate the Holocaust from the point of view of Nazi persecution and the responses of its victims.
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 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 the last 200 years, examining 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. You will consider how historians have interpreted the subject, starting with Michaud in the early nineteenth century, moving through Grousset (1920s), Erdmann (1930s), Runciman (1950s), Prawer, Richard and Mayer (1970s) to Riley-Smith, Housley and Tyerman (contemporary). You will also analyse how the crusade and the jihad have been treated in the Muslim world, tracing colonial and imperialist views through the twentieth century to the present day, including use by Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Arab Nationalists such as President Nasser of Egypt and President Hafez al-Asad of Syria.
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, and the effects of crusading on women who remained in the West.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of the Middle East in the twentieth century. You will look at the outbreak of the First World War that destroyed the old Ottoman order, the impact of European colonialism, the fortunes of postcolonial states during the Cold War, and the age of American hegemony. You will examine the growth of political Islam that challenged the mainly secularist establishments, considering examples such as authoritarianism in Egypth, sectarianism in Syria and Lebanon, the politics of oil in Saudia Arabia, and the Irainian revolution. You will analyse the creation of the modern Middle Eastern state system in the aftermath of the First World War, and explore the historical roots of the current crisis in the Middle East.
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*: £7,900
International students tuition fee per year**: £16,800
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see 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.