Full time 12 Month(s), Part time 24 Month(s)
The Lancaster History MA is designed to foster the study of history at an advanced level and to develop skills which can be transferred into professions outside the university or which may form the basis of further research. You have a choice of four fascinating pathways:
Each of the pathways consists of five taught modules and a 20,000 word dissertation.
The programme and the wide range of associated activities within the department combine to create a lively and enjoyable student experience and a real sense of academic community. In addition to your taught modules and supervision from our expert academics, you will be encouraged to attend research seminars, conferences, training events, reading groups and social events run by the department.
One of the key distinguishing factors about the Lancaster History MA is the option to work with heritage organisations on a work placement. Partner organisations include a wide variety of local, regional and national organisations, such as the National Trust, the Duchy of Lancaster, the Wordsworth Trust, and primary and secondary schools.
Click the ‘Visit Department’ tab to find out more about the four pathways, the application process, our placements and life as a History student at Lancaster.
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
Alongside having a passion for the past, researching and writing a quality piece of history requires a close engagement with the historian’s craft. What does good history look like? How can we be sure we are at the cutting edge of our discipline? What does it mean to write well? Through a series of practical seminars and class discussions, you will be guided through the processes behind constructing an extended piece of historical research, taking you from your initial research ideas through to giving you the skills needed to produce a high-quality dissertation. Particular attention is paid to making the jump from undergraduate to postgraduate study. Indicative topics for discussion in this module include:
The principal learning outcome of this module is to ensure the feasibility of your MA dissertation topics. Formative assessment is through the presentation of a 401 Conference Papter. Summative assessment is through a written feasibility study (5000 words) .
Brundage, Anthony, Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing (4th edn, Wheeling, IL, 2008).
Teaching: Michaelmas Term.
Assessment: Feasibility Study (5000 words).
This 20,000 word dissertation provides the opportunity for you to demonstrate the knowledge, understanding, research skills and techniques of presentation developed in the taught modules of the MA degree scheme. The specialist field of enquiry is chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisor and other members of the department before arrival and in the first half of Michaelmas Term. Individual one-to-one supervisions will be provided throughout the year to support taught modules, define and formulate a research hypothesis, identify relevant qualitative and quantitative sources, offer guidance on presentation and comment on the structure of the dissertation.
Teaching: Michaelmas, Lent, Summer Terms, and Summer.
Assessment: Dissertation (20,000 words).
What is the relationship between historical writing and creative writing, fiction and nonfiction and the entire spectrum of writing that that encompasses? What are the limits on creativity created by source materials or gaps in source materials? What are the respective responsibilities of author and reader?
This course explores those questions in the liminal space between historical and creative writing. By examining four areas - the individual; space and time; gaps; and textual intervention and negotiation by author and reader - you will be encouraged to think about the nature of writing across disciplines, your own creative voice and choices, and your relationship to your reader.
Through fortnightly case studies and one film-showing, you will consider extensive examples of how individual authors have chosen to meet the challenges of their subject matter, and be encouraged to explore the implications of this for your own writing.
Laurence Binet, HHhH (2012)
John Clive, Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History (1947)
Natalie Zemon-Davies, The Return of Martin Guerre (1984)
Taught: Michaelmas Term
Assessment: Portfolio: 5000W (100%) (consisting of variations on a theme, and reflection)
For MA students this module exists to accommodate a student’s particular research project which cannot be accommodated within the dissertation (HIST400) or other taught modules. Only students with a clear idea of a particular research project they wish to employ, and a clear understanding that it cannot be accommodated within the remainder of the postgraduate programme, should consider this option. Please consult the appropriate Director of Graduate Studies if you wish to pursue this option. The form of assessment and supervisor will vary depending on the project, and will be agreed in negotiation between Director of Postgraduate Studies, supervisor and student. However, it will be of equivalent weighting to 5,000 words of text.
Taught: Michaelmas or Lent terms
Assessment: Project, equivalent to 5000 words (100%)
This module, designed for students undertaking medieval or early-modern research, introduces the principles of palaeography and provides an opportunity to gain experience of how to read medieval and early-modern hands. It also aims to help you to think about manuscript sources, their production and reproduction and the relationship between manuscript and printed versions of primary texts. The module introduces selected classes of medieval and early-modern archive sources. Each seminar will include both substantive discussion of a topic or genre of source and a workshop element to give you palaeography practice. Regular palaeography ‘homework’ will be set and students are expected to undertake palaeography practice between class meetings.
Assessment: a) a short palaeography exercise. You are required to pass this test but it will not count towards the final assessment for the module; b) a 5,000-word project on a chosen source type or example (100%).
This is a special intensive course for students who have little or no previous knowledge of Latin. The course concentrates on the basics of Latin Grammar and vocabulary as used in the Medieval period, though it will also be very useful for students of the Roman and Renaissance periods. By the end of the course students should be able to read sources such as title deeds, court rolls, government records, wills, and inscriptions. Help will be given to individual students on Latin texts relevant to their dissertation or thesis.
J. Thorley, Documents in Medieval Latin.
E. A. Gooder, Latin for Local Historians.
R. Latham (ed.), Medieval Latin Word-List.
Any standard Latin-English dictionary.
Taught: Michaelmas, Lent, Summer Terms.
Assessment: Two course work exercises (40%) and a final examination (60%).
This module examines the nature of Belief and Unbelief from Ancient Greece through to the present day. It is often assumed that there has been a movement down the centuries from 'Belief' to 'Unbelief', especially in the West, where the intellectual impact of the Enlightenment and the growth of industrial society have widely been seen as fostering 'the death of religion'. The reality has been more complicated. Dominant religions have always been challenged by various forms of alternative belief: pagan, superstition, etc. In the modern period, religious belief has survived the enormous social and intellectual upheavals of the last two centuries. New forms of ‘religion’ have also appeared (some scholars have for example treated environmentalism as a form of religious belief). Both modern cognitive science and the growth of 'New Age' beliefs suggests that the religious instinct is rooted deeply in the human psyche. The development of terrorist activities committed to asserting the primacy of faith shows how modernity does not necessarily lead to the triumph of unbelief over belief. This module will encourage students to think broadly about the concepts of Belief and Unbelief through time and across the world.
Taught: Lent Term
Assessment: Essay (5000 Words)
This module offers you the chance to benefit from the Department’s established and expanding network of heritage partners by completing a professional placement. Our previous placement partners have included a number of notable organisations, such as the Duchy of Lancaster, Hoghton Tower, the Museum of Lancashire, the National Trust, the North Craven Trust, and the Senhouse Museum Trust. The placement is centred on a specific project, which is agreed between the Department and the partner organisation, and completed under the supervision of that organisation. The work undertaken as part of the placement project can take a variety of different forms, ranging from cataloguing objects to assisting in arrangement for exhibitions to undertaking research work on a corpus of visual, audio or textual sources.
The assessment for the module comprises a portfolio of work relating the placement and a (1,000-2,000 word) reflective essay.
In this module, you will examine historical approaches to a variety of sources, from the visual (or audio visual), to the aural, oral and artefactual. Whatever period you are studying, you will be able to investigate material relevant to your own research: in the past, the module has covered the gamut from ancient Rome to the modern day, and the sources you investigate will be tailored to suit the specialisms of your cohort. Over the course of the module you will deepen your familiarity with the range of sources available, and be able to analyse how non-traditional sources have been approached by historians. The knowledge and skills you learn will provide insights into how you can approach such sources within your own research; indeed, you will have the opportunity to pursue a coursework topic that relates to your chosen area of historical investigation.
Preliminary/core reading: Sarah Barber and Corinna Peniston Bird (eds.), History beyond the Text: A Student's Guide to approaching alternative Sources (Routledge, 2009).
Assessment: Essay (5,000 words).
Despite huge advances in digital technologies, many of the approaches historian use remain rooted in the analogue age. Perhaps the only major change that computers have led to among historians to date is the use of major digitised archives, such as Early English Books Online, Old Bailey Online or the British Newspaper Archive. Even with these, many historians simply use these to search and browse, never making use of their full potential or able to critique the digitised sources effectively.
In the first part of this course you will look at how paper sources are digitised and encoded to create digital historical resources. This will enable you to understand how digital sources are created, and encourage you to think critically about their benefits and limitations The second part the course explores how digitised historical sources can be explored and analysed in more sophisticated ways. Corpus linguistics enables us identify and summarise themes of interest from millions or billions of words of text in ways that go far beyond simply keyword searches. It also helps the historian decide which parts of a large body of text require further research and which do not.
You do not need any prior knowledge of computing beyond the basics all history students will have. We will draw on examples from a wide range of topics from the early modern to modern British. You will also have the opportunity to use the techniques and approaches learnt with their own sources.
Adolphs S. (2006) Electronic Text Analysis. London: Routledge
Hitchcock T. (2013) “Confronting the digital: or how academic history writing lost the plot” Cultural and Social History, 10, pp.9-23
Pumfrey S., Rayson, P. and Mariani J. (2012) “Experiments in 17th century English: manual versus automatic conceptual history” Literary and Linguistic Computing, 27, pp. 395-408
Nicholson B. (2012) “Counting culture; or, how to read Victorian newspapers from a distance” Journal of Victorian Culture, 17, pp. 238-246
Weller T. 2013. History in the Digital Age. London: Routledge.
Assessment: Two pieces of coursework. One essay, 1,500 or equivalent for the first piece (30%) and 2,500 for one practical exercise (70%)
This module gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability by taking advantage of LUVU’s Schools Partnership programme, which supports Lancaster Students on 10-week placements in local schools. The placement will be based at a primary or secondary school in the region, and it will likely involve a combination of classroom observation and teacher assistance, as well as the preparation of lesson plans, teaching plans and learning materials. You may also have the opportunity to teach the class as a whole. Participation in this module will give you first-hand experiences of young people’s responses to historical texts and problems, and it will give you the opportunity to develop confidence in communicating your subject. It will also increase your awareness of the roles of schools and universities in educational processes. This module is likely to help with your career progression, especially (though not exclusively) if you are interested in pursuing a career in teaching
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Undergraduate Degree: 2:1 (Hons) degree (UK or equivalent) in History
If you have studied outside of the UK, you can check your qualifications here: International Qualifications
Students who have completed a combined major or a degree in other disciplines, such as Politics, English, Cultural Studies or Linguistics, are welcome to apply
English Language: IELTS - Overall score of at least 6.5, with no individual element below 5.5
We consider tests from other providers, which can be found here: English language requirements
If your score is below our requirements we may consider you for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes
Pre-sessional English language programmes available:
4 Week Overall score of at least 6.0, with no individual element below 5.5
10 Week Overall score of at least 5.5, with no individual element below 5.0
Longer pre-sessional programmes are available, please contact the Admissions Office for further information
Funding: All applicants should consult our information on Fees and Funding; Faculty Scholarships and Funding; History Fees and Funding
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