Year of entry2017
Start dateOctober 2017
One year full-time or two years part-time
Two to three evenings a week full-time and one to two evenings a week part-time
Other entry years for this course2018
This Master's degree in history explores how the formidable forces of science and medicine have fundamentally shaped who we are. The history of science and medicine covers the history of ideas, technologies and interventions, but it also takes into consideration the history of everyday experiences of health, illness and wellbeing.
'Ordinary' people turn out to be the extraordinary lens through which we can reflect on our past. Pain and illness change the way we look at the world: certain forms of suffering are increasing, with chronic pain, for example, now affecting around 40% of people in Britain and America. The provision of healthcare is also undergoing major shifts and history can teach us valuable lessons about how medicine and caregiving has been understood in the past.
This programme explores the historical roots and the social and conceptual foundations of modern science and medicine, equipping you with a deep understanding of how scientific and medical ideas and institutions relate to their broader historical context. It offers you the chance to study this fascinating, expanding area of social and cultural history at a department in which teaching is research-led, delivered by core staff with world-renowned research expertise.
This is a growing field in which exciting new questions are being asked and new methodological approaches are being created and applied. Birkbeck is at the forefront of these advances and, unlike similar MA programmes, we cover the period from the ancient world to the present, and from global perspectives.
The programme provides a framework within which you can develop your research techniques and prepare for doctoral, professional or other research, but the primary focus is on providing a rich and varied experience of studying history at postgraduate level, allowing you to satisfy and expand your passion for the subject. The programme will also appeal to healthcare professionals and caregivers who may benefit from knowing more about the history of medicine, health and care.
The compulsory module will introduce you to the systematic study of historiography and the methodologies used in the analysis and interpretation of historical source material. You can explore the enormous breadth of research interests in the department via the three option modules you choose, which span from the ancient to the contemporary. Finally, the dissertation gives you the chance to pursue your own interests and undertake your own research and critical thinking under the supervision of a member of staff with relevant expertise.
- Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 World University Subject Rankings. Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
- Birkbeck is home to several doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows, working in the areas of medical history and medical humanities, who are funded by the Wellcome Trust. Students on this programme are eligible to apply for Wellcome Trust studentships.
- Our academic staff are international authorities in their fields, delivering stimulating, research-led teaching.
- Our Department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research. These include the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, the Raphael Samuel History Centre and the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.
- We are located five minutes' walk from the British Museum and the British Library, while the Museum of London is easily reachable. The Institute of Historical Research is located in Bloomsbury, near the main Birkbeck campus, and has an internationally renowned library collection and seminars that you can attend. Birkbeck Library has an extensive history collection, including the major specialist journals, and access to online materials.
- The Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship fund offers a full fee-waiver for Home, EU and Overseas Master’s students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology (part-time awards are pro-rata).
- Find out more about why you should study with us.
The programme consists of four taught modules and a dissertation. All students take the compulsory module 'Mastering Historical Research', choose three option modules from a wide range and then research and write a dissertation.
There is also skills training in preparing for the dissertation and you will receive one-to-one guidance and supervision for your dissertation research.
Not all modules are available each year.
- 8 Ancient Things - Approaches to Ancient Material Culture
- Coming to London: Migration, Society and the State in the Imperial Metropolis
- Cultural History of War in Britain and America between the First World War and the Conflict in Vietnam
- Death, Disease and Early Modern City
- Disease and Society in Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
- Fascism and Psychoanalysis
- From temples to museums: post-classical encounters with classical antiquities
- Gender in Britain
- Heresy in the High Middle Ages
- Madness and its Meanings
- Madness and Normality in the Modern World: Histories of the Pathological in a Transnational Context
- Medicine in the Cold War
- Monastic Lives in Medieval England
- Practitioners and Patients in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe
- Renaissance Florence: Society, Religion and Culture
- Technology, Modernity and the Nation: Britain and Germany, 1880 to 1930
MA History of Science and Medicine dissertation
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
A second-class honours degree in a humanities subject.
International entry requirements
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.
If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.
Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)
If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.
We offer advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay your fees interest-free by direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students.
FeesPart-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa
Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa
Teaching and assessment
Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.
At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.
Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.
Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.
In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.
Methods of teaching on this course
Teaching is primarily via two-hour seminars, with occasional lectures, and one-to-one tutorials.
Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).
Indicative class size
Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.
Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:
- academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
- written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
- numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).
Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.
Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.
Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.
Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.
Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.
Methods of assessment on this course
Assessment is via written work, including assessed 5000-5500 word essays for each module undertaken (four in total) and a 15,000-16,000 word dissertation.
Every module has an attendance requirement, so you will need to attend at least 60% of classes in order to pass.
As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.
Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.
Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.
Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.
Careers and employability
To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.
Careers and employability
Graduates can pursue careers in research and archiving, education, the heritage industry, publication and the media, the charity sector and journalism. Possible professions include historian, higher education lecturer, or archivist. This degree provides a range of transferable skills, which may be useful in becoming a journalist, heritage manager, politician’s assistant, academic librarian, or museum/gallery curator.
Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.
We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
How to apply
You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.
Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.
Application deadlines and interviews
We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.
Application to all September/October-start programmes at Birkbeck closes on Monday 16 October.
Life at Birkbeck
Birkbeck offers a unique combination of evening study and a matchless central London location, right in the geographic and academic centre of the city, giving you exceptional opportunities.
Accommodation and living costs
Most of our students live in private accommodation, but we also offer student accommodation and access to the professional services of the University of London Housing Services.
The Birkbeck experience
Birkbeck is different: our classes are held in the evening, so your days are free - to study, work, volunteer or just do your own thing.
Financial support and postgraduate loans
Birkbeck offers advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay loans by interest-free direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students. Find out about the support we provide.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck. We can give you the advice and support you need.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research universities. Discover more about our vibrant, intellectually challenging and exciting research culture.
Boost your career
Discover how Birkbeck's unique evening teaching, coupled with our comprehensive careers and employability services, can help you get ahead in a highly competitive job market.
Fees and payment
With government loans for undergraduate and postgraduate study, fantastic financial support packages and flexible payment options, there’s never been a better time to study at Birkbeck.
There are lots of ways to come and visit us and meet our staff and former students, including Open Evenings, Open Days and guided campus tours. Discover more here.
Birkbeck student wins prestigious Institute of Business Ethics’ Competition
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Professor Bill Bowring awarded Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences
Professor Bowring is a leading expert in the UK on legal and human rights issues in Russia and the countries of the Former Soviet Union, and Eastern and Central Europe.
Professor Martin Paul Eve awarded Medal of Honour in the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Medal of Honour is awarded to laureates of exceptional academic or social distinction, who make a unique contribution to the mutual relationship between faculties and universities.
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