This Master's degree in history and politics will give you a deep understanding of the recent past and the contemporary world and help you develop the approaches, techniques and skills of the professional historian.
Using an interdisciplinary combination of historical and political approaches, it lays a strong emphasis on the critical analysis of the recent past, with the overall aim of giving you specialist knowledge of particular regions and themes. You will study the complex interplay between national, international and global political, social and historical forces that have produced the contemporary world.
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. You will undertake training in research skills to prepare you for researching and writing a dissertation on the subject that most interests you.
You can choose from an impressive range of option modules, selecting from those offered by the Department of Politics and by the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. These options cover a wide sweep of political ideas and systems, historical periods and geographical places, including the United States, China, the Middle East and Europe.
Options modules are usually available in topics including the post-war reconstruction of Europe, Islam and the politics of fundamentalism, American global supremacy and foreign policy, national and transnational structures for ensuring global order and justice, and the rise of China as a superpower, among others.
How to apply
Application deadlines and interviews
We recommend you apply as early as possible.
Interviews from January.
Contemporary History and Politics (MA) (Part-time)
Contemporary History and Politics (MA) (Full-time)
The programme consists of a compulsory core module, 3 option modules and a dissertation, which is 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 in contemporary history and politics. A second core element includes training in research skills and a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice.
Some option modules are taught specifically for this MA and some are taught as part of other MA courses. You must take 3 option modules offered either by the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology or the Department of Politics.
Not all modules are available each year. View the full timetable for the year.
Indicative option modules
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.
Part-time home/EU students: £
paFull-time home/EU students: £
paPart-time overseas students: £
paFull-time overseas students: £
Payment and Fees Discounts
Funding and Financial Support
Careers and employability
Graduates can pursue careers in education, journalism, research, and museums and archiving. Possible professions include teacher, journalist, or archivist. This degree may also be useful in a variety of roles within government, research, or NGOs, as well as in becoming a museum education officer, academic librarian, politician’s assistant, 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
Teaching is mostly in small seminar groups of 15-20 students per class.
Key teaching staff on this programme
Four essays of 5000 words each and a dissertation of 15,000 words. Assessment in option modules offered through the Department of Politics includes essays and examinations.