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

This course is explicitly historical in scope, having particular focus on those things within living memory, reflecting the vast upsurge of interest in contemporary history following the end of the Cold War.

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

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

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 China Policy Institute.

Areas of special interest include:

  • 20th-century American history
  • 20th-century Chinese history
  • Anglo-American relations
  • 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 UK top 15 for research power in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Course details

The flexible, interdisciplinary nature and unique structure of this course 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.

Assessment for each taught module takes place at the end of each semester and is through a combination of coursework and/or exams, with some modules also requiring an assessed presentation. Modules are usually offered as 20 or 15 credit versions.

Your studies will culminate in the research and writing of a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation. This represents a substantial piece of independent research drawing on primary source material as well as secondary literature. You will be allocated an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will 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. You will spend the summer months between June and September writing your dissertation.



  • Dissertation: MA Politics and Contemporary History


You will choose a minimum of 60 credits from within the School of Politics and International Relations; the remaining 60 credits can be taken from a list of modules offered by the Department of History, or other schools and departments (subject to approval).

  • 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
  • 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 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.

Students who wish to continue with their studies following the successful completion of one of our MA programmes may wish consider our 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 2015, 82% of postgraduates in the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation.*

*Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15.

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.

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Entry requirements

  • 2:1 (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 March 16, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
7,155 GBP
United Kingdom - Nottingham, England
Start date: Sept. 2017
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2017
United Kingdom - Nottingham, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
International fees: 16,605 GBP (HEU fees: 7,155 GBP)