MA Politics and Contemporary History

The University of Nottingham - Faculty of Social Sciences

Program Description

MA Politics and Contemporary History

The University of Nottingham - Faculty of Social Sciences

MA Politics and Contemporary History

The MA Politics and Contemporary History is well-established and attracts applicants of exceptional quality from the UK and abroad.

This interdisciplinary course is explicitly historical in scope, having particular focus on those things within living memory. It reflects the vast upsurge of interest in contemporary history following the end of the Cold War and the attendant opening of much of the hidden history of the 20th century.

The course will address contending approaches to recent events which have shaped your own life and the lives of those immediately around you.

The University of Nottingham boasts one of the highest concentrations of research expertise in contemporary history in the UK. Staff in the School of Politics and International Relations are actively engaged in contemporary historical research and further expertise is found in the schools of American and Canadian Studies, History, the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and the Institute for Contemporary Chinese Studies.

Areas of special interest include:

  • 20th-Century American History
  • 20th-Century Chinese History
  • Anglo-American Relations
  • Art and Politics
  • Cold War History
  • Communism and Fascism
  • Contemporary British Political History
  • Film History
  • Intelligence and National Security
  • Labour and Urban History, especially in Britain and Europe
  • Modern German History including the Holocaust
  • Modern Russia, especially imperial, diplomacy and war
  • Modern War in Europe, Asia and the Pacific
  • Religion and Conflict in the Middle East
  • South East Asia, especially social movements
  • United States foreign and security policy
  • Women's History

Key facts

  • The School of Politics and International Relations was ranked in the top 15 in the UK for research power in the Research Excellence Framework 2014

Course details

The MA Politics and Contemporary History can be studied on a full-time basis over one year or part-time over two years.

The flexible, interdisciplinary nature and unique structure of the MA Politics and Contemporary History degree allows you to choose from a wide range of modules offered by the school as well as those offered by other schools within the University to construct a course of study that reflects your own interests.

You will take a minimum of 60 credits worth of modules offered by the School of Politics and International Relations, together with the dissertation which is undertaken during the summer.

The remaining 60 credits may be accumulated from a list of modules offered by other schools and departments, with certain courses being especially recommended.

Your studies will culminate in the research and writing of a substantive 60-credit dissertation within the field of politics and contemporary history. The dissertation should be 15,000 words in length and must contain a strong research element. You will register your dissertation on a subject of your choice and will be allocated with a dissertation supervisor to oversee your progress.

Teaching is spread across two semesters: autumn, which begins in September and ends in January; and spring, which begins in January and ends in June. The summer months between June and September are spent writing a dissertation.

Assessment for each taught module takes place at the end of each semester and is through a combination of coursework and/or examination, with some modules also requiring an assessed presentation.

Modules are usually offered as 20 or 15 credit versions.


Core modules

  • Dissertation: MA Politics and Contemporary History

Optional modules

Students must choose a minimum of 60 credits from MA modules offered within the School of Politics and International Relations, and the remaining 60 credits can be taken from the list of modules offered by the School of History, or other schools and departments.

Please note that students require approval from the School of Politics and International Relations before formally registering for modules outside the school.

  • Comparative Democratic Development
  • Contemporary Warfare
  • Designing Political Enquiry
  • Europe and the Developing World
  • European Union Politics
  • Gender and Development
  • Global Asia
  • Grand Strategy
  • International Political Economy
  • The Politics of South Asia
  • The Road to Guantanamo: The Treatment and Experience of Prisoners, Civilian Internees and Detainees since 1860
  • Special Project A
  • Special Project B
  • Terrorism and Insurgencies
  • Theories and Concepts in International Relations
  • The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy
  • War, Peace and Terror
  • Western Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
  • When Does Russia Expand and Why?

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.


The MA in Politics and Contemporary History will introduce you to the advanced study of contemporary history and equip you for a wide range of career possibilities from media and leisure to national government and in international organisations.

Our postgraduate courses provide a firm foundation for a wide range of careers. Many of our students take an active role in politics throughout and following their time in the school. Politics is the ideal academic discipline to study if you are interested in a career in politics or government. Other students go into a range of careers, including management, marketing, teaching and broadcasting.

Graduating from Nottingham means that you have opened the door to an opportunity to an interesting and well paid career. Our students are highly regarded by employers because of the strong academic foundation and transferable skills that they gain during their degree course.

A significant proportion of postgraduate students on this course progress to doctoral level study, and some have carried on in academia and hold permanent positions in some of the leading universities in Europe.

For those students who wish to continue with their studies following the successful completion of one of our MA programmes, the school offers MRes and MPhil/PhD degrees. Research degree supervision in most of the major sub-areas of the discipline of politics is offered by the increasing number of academic staff working in the school.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2014, 92.9% of postgraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,409 with the highest being £29,000.*

*Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

Entry requirements 2.1(Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)

IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated September 12, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2016
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
6,825 GBP
Start date Sept. 2016
United Kingdom Nottingham, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 1 - 2 years
Price 6,825 GBP
HEU Fees: £6,825 / International Fees: £16,610