Contemporary History and Politics (MA)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2017


Central London


Fully Approved


Two years part-time or one year full-time


One to two evenings a week part-time or two to three evenings a week full-time, October to July

This Master's degree will give you a deeper understanding of the recent past and the contemporary world, and will help you to develop the approaches, techniques and skills of professional historians.

You will study the interplay between national, international and global forces that have shaped the contemporary world. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the degree lays a strong emphasis on the critical analysis of the recent past, giving you specialist knowledge of particular regions and themes. The introductory core module offers an in-depth exploration of the methodological, conceptual and theoretical background necessary for historical study at postgraduate level. It also considers specific topics and questions in contemporary history and politics, such as nationalism, empires and migration.

You can then choose from an impressive range of option modules, offered by the Department of Politics and by the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. These options cover a very wide sweep of political ideas and systems, historical periods and geographical places, including the United States, the Middle East and Europe.

Students will also undertake training in research skills to prepare for a dissertation on a subject  devised by themselves, with personal guidance from their academic supervisor.

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    Why study this course at Birkbeck?

    • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
    • 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.
    • This interdisciplinary Master's degree in history and politics provides a unique perspective on the modern world and gives you the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects in depth.
    • The course allows you to follow your own interests, with a wide choice of option modules, while developing your research skills and undertaking a dissertation in an area that interests you.
    • 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.
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