MA in Early Modern History

University of Birmingham - College of Arts and Law

Program Description

MA in Early Modern History

University of Birmingham - College of Arts and Law

Are you interested in exploring the history of sixteenth-, seventeenth- or eighteenth-century Britain, Europe and the wider world?

The MA Early Modern History, organised by the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS), is taught by leading scholars whose expertise covers the Catholic and Protestant Reformations, New World discoveries, and the political, cultural and religious worlds of sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England and Europe. It combines political, religious, social, cultural, material and intellectual approaches to introduce the early modern period in all its richness and complexity and to equip students with the knowledge and skills to take a fresh look at early modern history.

The enormous breadth of staff expertise gives you a rich variety of options and a wide range of possibilities for your dissertation topic. The programme also offers comprehensive research training opportunities, providing the ideal grounding to undertake a PhD in this area.

Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

Early modern history has become increasingly interdisciplinary, with researchers drawing on the insights of anthropology, sociology, cultural and literary studies, art history, and musicology, as well as history when writing about the past.

Topics such as violence, clothing, gender, exploration, art, drama, music, buildings and material culture have come to be seen as crucial to understanding the transformations that were taking place across the period c.1500-c.1700. These new approaches are integral to the teaching and research training provided on this course. There is also an annual field trip, designed to explore key themes and issues outside of the classroom, in the context of key buildings, documents and historical artefacts.

You will study two core modules in early modern history (full descriptions available below):

  • Introduction to Early Modern History
  • Writing Early Modern History: Sources and Approaches

You will also study the department's core module in 'Historical Methods', take a module in research preparation, and choose from a range of optional modules, including special subjects, advanced options, and further research training.


Modules are typically assessed by written assignment, with the exception of Research Preparation which also requires a presentation. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on an agreed topic. The range of supervisory expertise within CREMS means that we can support dissertations in almost any area, so long as there are sufficient historical sources to support your chosen topic. Birmingham provides access to excellent library resources in early modern history, including an impressive range of digitised primary source material, from state papers and archives to printed books and much more.

Why study this course

  • Research expertise - Birmingham’s Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS) makes it the ideal place to study early modern history. There is a thriving and active community of postgraduates, a lively research seminar programme, and excellent connections to early modern expertise in other schools and departments including English, the Shakespeare Institute and History of Art.
  • Location - The West Midlands and Birmingham are rich in associations with the history of the early modern period. The regional cathedrals (Lichfield, Gloucester and Worcester) and parish churches still reflect many of the religious changes of the period; the country houses and castles (such as Kenilworth and Warwick) offer fascinating insights into its material culture, and nearby Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon contain wonderful examples of early modern domestic and religious architecture.
  • Flexibility - A wide range of options allow you to specialise in an area of your choice, and comprehensive training opportunities will help to prepare you to embark upon a significant research project. In recent years, scholars have moved beyond a narrow concern with elite religion and high politics to explore the cultural, material and social histories of the early modern period, in order to assess the full impact of momentous changes such as the Renaissance and the Reformation.
  • A range of resources - Birmingham has excellent resources for this programme. The library is particularly strong in early modern history, religious history and local history materials, and the University’s Special Collections contain a wide range of early printed books, especially sixteenth and seventeenth-century sermon material. The University also provides students with access to cutting-edge electronic resources, including Early English Books Online, all four parts of State Papers Online, and the Cecil Papers. The microfilm resources include a large collection of early Reformation ‘flugschriften’. Students also have use of the Shakespeare Institute’s excellent research library in Stratford–upon-Avon, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust library and Record Office, and the on-campus resources of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Birmingham is also centrally located in the UK, within easy reach of archives in London, Oxford, and elsewhere.
  • Access to academic support services – As a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces to extra-curricular activities and funding opportunities. All of this and more is available on our beautiful 250-acre green and leafy campus. Learn more about the postgraduate experience

Entry requirements

You will need an Honours degree, normally in any humanities or social science disciplines, such as History, Politics, Cultural Studies, or Literature, and normally of an upper second-class standard. All applications are treated on their merits, and we are happy to consider applicants who may have travelled by non-standard routes. Applications should highlight your interest in the programme and any relevant experience you have, academic or otherwise. Applicants are encouraged to contact the programme convenor to discuss their application before submitting it.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 26, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
16,290 GBP
Annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19: UK / EU: £9,000 full-time International: £16,290 full-time
United Kingdom - Birmingham, England
Start date : Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
United Kingdom - Birmingham, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info