History of Ideas (MA)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2017


Central London


Fully Approved


2 years part-time or 1 year full-time


1-2 evenings a week part-time or 2-3 evenings a week full-time, October to June

This Master's degree in the history of ideas is concerned with excavating and understanding the lived reality of ideas. We consider how the study of the history of ideas can help us to interpret individual thinkers and their ideas and how these have shaped past societies.

The history of ideas is a dynamic and expanding field and this programme enables you to pursue an exciting programme of study, exploring ideas comparatively and in their geographical, social and historical contexts. If you want to understand and investigate the relationship between ideas and actions across a wide variety of historical periods, geographical places, and theoretical and methodological perspectives, then this is the degree for you.

The introductory core module explores key topics and questions within the history of ideas and will introduce you to the conceptual background needed for the historical study of ideas at postgraduate level.

We offer a wide range of option modules, covering topics in periods from classical antiquity to the present day, including ancient philosophy, politics and ethics, Judaism and Antisemitism, early modern politics, Darwinism and race in the nineteenth century, psychoanalysis, modernity and technology, and Islam and the politics of fundamentalism. You will also receive training in research skills to enable you to undertake the researching and writing of a dissertation on the topic of most interest to you.

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      Why study this course at Birkbeck?

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      Course structure

      The programme consists of three assessed elements: a compulsory 10-week core module taught annually in the autumn term, with an additional research skills and method component in the summer term; three option modules, each taught over 10 weeks (one term); and a dissertation due at the end of September of the final year of study.

      The introductory core module aims to equip you with the conceptual background necessary for historical study at postgraduate level. It includes 10 broad lectures and 10 weekly seminars dedicated to exploring specific topics and questions on the history of ideas.

      We offer a wide range of option modules, covering topics from classical antiquity to the present day.

      Not all modules are available each year. 

      Read more about modules

      Core modules

      Indicative option modules

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