• Status: Fully Approved
  • Start date: October 2017
  • Duration:

    2 years part-time or 1 year full-time

  • Attendance:

    1 evening a week part-time; 2 evenings a week full-time.

    October to July

  • Location:

    Central London

Programme overview

This Master’s degree in history will provide you with the advanced conceptual, theoretical and practical skills necessary for undertaking historical research, whether at PhD level, professionally or independently. It will give you the intellectual foundations, practical techniques and confidence to pursue your own research in the historical subject or period that most interests you.

The core modules provide fundamental training in approaching and carrying out research at a postgraduate level, including locating, retrieving and managing historical evidence, contextualising and analysing textual, visual and material sources, and using qualitative and quantitative methods, including specialist software, to assess and analyse historical data. We will critically examine problems of historical theory and practice, with an emphasis on debates around key topics such as historical narrative, objectivity and relativism, causation, the relationship of history to other disciplines, the rise and impact of social and cultural histories, and new directions in historical research and writing. We will consider some of the key methodological and theoretical approaches to history of the past 100 years, including the Annales School, Marxist historiography and postmodernism.

As well as being able to choose option modules from the extensive range offered by the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, you will also be able to elect to undertake option modules offered by other departments. The culmination of the programme is the writing of an independently researched dissertation under the guidance and supervision of one of our research-active academics.

The academic director of this course is Professor Chandak Sengoopta.

How to apply

You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link below. Please note that online application will open in October 2016.

Need help with your application? Watch videos featuring our academic experts giving advice on applying to Birkbeck and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.

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

You should apply as early as possible.

Interviews from January.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

  • This Master's degree in historical research is specifically aimed at providing intellectual and skills training for students considering future research at PhD level, professionally or independently.

    Course structure

    You take 2 core modules and choose 2 option modules from a comprehensive list of history courses taught at Birkbeck.

    You may take option modules from MA programmes run by other departments, as long as they are approved by the course director as being relevant to the proposed topic of research.

    You will also write a dissertation.

    Not all modules are available each year. View the full timetable for the year.

    Core modules

    Indicative option modules

    Entry requirements

    Second-class honours degree and references.

    We also offer a 1-year Graduate Certificate in History, which can be used as a conversion course if you want to study history at postgraduate level, but have a degree in a significantly different discipline.

    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.

    Fees (2016/7)

    Part-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

    Payment and Fees Discounts

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a Birkbeck alumni or a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    Funding and Financial Support

    The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses – and you don't have to start repaying until 2019.

    Named in memory of Birkbeck’s former President, and one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century, 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).

    Part-time students who are experiencing financial need may apply for assistance from the Birkbeck Alumni Fund Postgraduate Opportunity Bursary.

    Find out more about funding and financial support at postgraduate level.

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in research and archiving, museums and galleries, education, or journalism. Possible professions include researcher, archivist, or journalist. This degree will also provide graduates with the skills to undertake historical research at PhD level as well as professionally and independently. It may also be useful in becoming a higher education lecturer, museum education officer, or Civil Service administrator.

    Find out more about these professions.

    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.

    Teaching and assessment


    The first core module combines lectures and tutorials. The second core module and all option modules are taught solely in the form of seminars, giving you the opportunity to develop your own ideas. You will work with a supervisor on your dissertation.


    The first core module and each option module are assessed by a 5000-word essay; the second core module is examined by a shorter review essay and a research proposal. You will write a dissertation of 15,000 words.

    Our research

    Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

    Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

    In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked 6th 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.

    Read about Birkbeck research that crosses disciplines and focuses on pressing questions within the social sciences and humanities.

    Further study opportunities

    If you are interested in further research, we offer an MPhil/PhD in History.