MA International and Military History

Tab Content: Course Overview

From the rise and fall of great powers to the treatment of non-combatants, from diplomacy and peace-making to strategy and doctrine, and from wars of propaganda to weaponry and intelligence, explore the major themes of international and military history across the world from ancient times to today.

Recent development in geo-politics – from the increasing militarisation of the Asia-Pacific to the military resurgence of Russia – have led to a renaissance in the study of warfare and relations between states, as academics, students, governments, and the general public seek to understand the making and conduct of war and peace on the global stage. At the same time, the field of international history has been transformed, moving away from a western-centric perspective and a focus on high politics to integrate the perspective of the Global South, while also focussing on ‘lesser’ political actors and people. Military History, meanwhile, has grown from its original focus on strategy, battles, and military leaders to incorporate the study of the political, economic, societal, and cultural dimensions of war. These disciplinary developments are embedded in Lancaster's Masters in International and Military History, which draws from the History Department's particular expertise in war and inter-state relations from the ancient world to the present day, in order to explore these themes across time.

Whether you are seeking to develop professional expertise or pursue a research career, you will gain the knowledge and skills needed to engage with key debates and advance new arguments, informed by a global perspective and a broad chronological understanding.

Tab Content: Why choose this course?

  • Study the only degree in the UK to combine international and military history at Masters level
  • Pursue your interest across a broad chronological range, from the ancient world to the present day
  • Gain a truly global perspective, across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East
  • Develop expertise and skills that will enhance your career potential in a range of sectors or prepare you for doctoral research
  • Work with scholars expert in the fields of international and military history, and whose teaching is fuelled by the latest research
  • Through our guest speaker programme, you can engage with the work of other leading scholars, as well as diplomats, politicians, and military leaders
  • Join the History department ranked 6th in the UK overall, and 3rd in the UK for graduate prospects, by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019

Tab Content: Key Information

Undergraduate Degree: A 2:1 honours degree, or equivalent, in History or a related discipline

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 FundingFaculty Scholarships and FundingHistory Fees and Funding

Tab Content: Fees


 Full Time (per year)Part Time (per year)
UK/EU £8,500 £4,250
Overseas £17,500 £8,750

The University will not increase the Tuition Fee you are charged during the course of an academic year.

If you are studying on a programme of more than one year's duration, the tuition fees for subsequent years of your programme are likely to increase each year. The way in which continuing students' fee rates are determined varies according to an individual's 'fee status' as set out on our fees webpages.

What are tuition fees for?

Studying at a UK University means that you need to pay an annual fee for your tuition, which covers the costs associated with teaching, examinations, assessment and graduation.

The fee that you will be charged depends on whether you are considered to be a UK, EU or overseas student. Visiting students will be charged a pro-rata fee for periods of study less than a year.

Our annual tuition fee is set for a 12 month session, which usually runs from October to September the following year.

How does Lancaster set overseas tuition fees?

Overseas fees, alongside all other sources of income, allow the University to maintain its abilities across the range of activities and services. Each year the University's Finance Committee consider recommendations for increases to fees proposed for all categories of student and this takes into account a range of factors including projected cost inflation for the University, comparisons against other high-quality institutions and external financial factors such as projected exchange rate movements.

What support is available towards tuition fees?

Lancaster University's priority is to support every student in making the most of their education. Many of our students each year will be entitled to bursaries or scholarships to help with the cost of fees and/or living expenses. You can find out more about financial support, studentships, and awards for postgraduate study on our website.

A wide choice of modules to develop your skills and expertise

All MA International and Military History students take four core modules: ‘International Order and Disorder’ and ‘Warfare in History’, which will introduce you to the fundamental knowledge and tools of international and military history, as well as ‘Researching and Writing History’, by which you prepare for your dissertation, and the dissertation module, through which you develop your own original research.

You will also choose three further modules. These include optional modules in areas of international and military history, which run for ten weeks and are all taught by a two-hour weekly seminar, and relevant modules offered by other departments, such as Politics, Philosophy and Religion. One of your three choices might otherwise be our Heritage Placement module, if you are seeking to gain hands-on experience in the heritage sector, or a Project module, which allows you to pursue a topic of particular personal interest through independent research.

In total, you take 180 credits. Modules taught in the History department are weighted at 20 credits and assessed through one piece of coursework of 5,000 words. The dissertation, weighted at 60 credits, is 15,000 words.

Typical modules may include:

  • HIST442 : International Order and Disorder (Core)

    In this module you will gain a foundation in the history of international relations from the Peace of Westphalia (1648) to the present day, in order to understand the making and evolution of the international system. This systemic approach will be complemented by a focus on political, economic, military, social, and cultural shifts and challenges, as well as on major international political actors. Each session will deal with a specific historical period and a theme or issue of major relevance, and the module will typically cover the following topics and themes: the modern international system from its birth in the mid-17th century until its first implosion during the Napoleonic Wars; the alliance system that emerged following the fall of Napoleon; the world-spanning British Empire; the complex and multi-layered alliance system of German chancellor Otto von Bismarck; the declines of China and Russia and the rise of Japan from the mid-19th to the early 20th century; the diplomatic escalation leading up to the First World War; the experiment of the League of Nations during the interwar period, and the renewed attempt to create an organisation for world peace after the Second World War with the United Nations; the far-sweeping post-war decolonisation process in Asia and Africa; the Cold War; and the post-Cold War order. By the end of the course you will be equipped to assess whether the modern international system has been marked by order or, rather, disorder.

  • HIST443 : Warfare in History (Core)

    In this module you will gain a foundation in the history of warfare from ancient Greece to the present day, allowing you to understand and gain specific insights into the evolution of and ‘revolutions’ in military affairs. Within this longue durée approach, you will be equipped to question how warfare has been affected by political, economic, social, technological, and cultural factors, as well as influential military figures, thinkers, and powers. Each session will deal with a specific historical period and a theme or issue of major relevance, and the module will typically cover the following topics and themes: warfare in ancient Greece through the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars; the rise of Rome as the dominating Mediterranean power in the Punic Wars; early medieval forms of warfare such as that of the Vikings; knights and soldiers in the High Middle Ages; the series of conflicts that constituted the Hundred Years’ War in the Late Middle Ages; the rise of the fiscal military state in the early modern period; the concept of a nation in arms through the Napoleonic Wars and such 19th century conflicts as the Franco-Prussian War; the idea of total war through the lenses of the First and Second World Wars; the Cold War and nuclear strategy; the ‘hot’ decolonisation wars of the Cold War, and more recent counterinsurgency campaigns like that in Afghanistan. 

  • HIST440 Dissertation in International and/or Military History (Core)

    In this you module you will have the opportunity to research and write on a topic of your own choosing in the fields of International and/or Military History broadly defined. In the choice of the topic, the elaboration of the research project, as well as the research and writing of the dissertation, you will be supervised by the tutors teaching on the MAIMH, and other History faculty with relevant specialist expertise. This supervision will be provided throughout the year on the basis of one-to-one meetings between you and your supervisor, offering you the guidance to carry out independent research and writing, building on the knowledge and skills learned through the degree's taught modules, to develop a specific area of expertise in International and/or Military History, to engage with specific historical approaches and methods, and to work with substantial corpora of primary and secondary sources. Your dissertation, of 15,000 words, will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge, understanding, research skills, and presentation techniques.

  • HIST444 : Warfare in the Medieval World, 1100-1500 (Optional)

    In this module you will explore a crucial period in the history of warfare, from the age of the first crusaders through to the Hundred Years War and War of the Roses, when episodic and carefully managed conflicts gave way to near continual war. ‘Chivalric’ ideals were first established, in order to limit noble bloodshed and protect non-combatants, and then overturned, as in the later thirteenth century the killing of nobles on the battlefield and the systematic and efficient terrorizing of civilian populations became standard strategy. The need to raise and maintain armies for extended periods converged with the rise of the bureaucratic state, leading to the ‘professionalization’ of warfare. Military technology was transformed, with the invention of the trebuchet and then the gun, and new and potent battle tactics were developed, most famously the arrowstorm.  You will examine key battles and campaigns – typically including those of Antioch, Damietta, Evesham, Tagliacozzo, Crécy, Nájera, Agincourt, Orléans and Towton – in order to examine the cultures, technologies and strategies of warfare in Christendom 1100-1500, and consider key areas of scholarship: what was the nature of chivalric warfare and how did that change? to what extent were later medieval armies ‘professional’? how can we study the psychology of battle?  The module will also equip you to assess and use key sources for warfare in this period, such as eye-witness battle narratives, military ordinances, and battlefield archaeology.

  • HIST445 : From Peter to Putin: Russia as a Great Power (Optional)

    In this module you will explore the ascent of Russia as a great power, examining first how Peter the Great’s desire to open a ‘Window on the West’ helped to lay the foundation for tsarist Russia to become a European great power, and then how nineteenth-century Russia sought to balance its role in European politics with ‘imperial’ expansion to the south and East. You will then explore the role of the USSR in the international political system, before examining how Russia’s contemporary international presence can be understood in terms of both the Soviet and the Tsarist past.

    Gaining a broad historic overview of key themes and developments, you will also have the opportunity to study particular events in depth in order to relate them to broader patterns of change (eg Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, Russo-Japanese War, First World War, Great Patriotic War; etc).

  • HIST446 : 'Fighting Without Fire': Non-Military Conflict from 1945 to Today (Optional)

    In the twentieth century, military conflict became more than just soldiers on the frontline. In the modern world, the ability to control information and perceived ideas has become just as important as the traditional military arena. The ability to marshal effective propaganda campaigns, obtain reliable information through increasingly sophisticated espionage networks, and utilise media outlets to alter public perception of events have become increasingly weaponised by state and non-state powers. Even altruistic and moral ideals such as human rights have become utilised in contemporary international relations to exert pressure on governments around the world. The era of 'fake news' has brought this to the fore - how important are ideas and information for military conflict?

    In this module you will assess the contemporary history of non-military conflict, charting the developments in conflict from ‘total war’ to ‘information wars’, considering the breadth of non-military conflict, and assessing the effectiveness, complexity and controversy surrounding a number of non-traditional forms of warfare. You will be able to assess the influence and efforts of human rights activists, political dissidents, media moguls, celebrities, and international diplomats in shaping modern conflict. What impact have these individuals had on modern warfare? Has 'soft power' come to be as influential as 'hard power' in the modern world?

  • HIST447 : The Cold War in the Third World (Optional)

    The traditional historiography of the Cold War focused predominantly on the two superpowers, i.e. the United States and the Soviet Union, and the European theatre of the conflict. In this module, in contrast, you will gain a different, less Euro- or Western-centric view of the Cold War. Studying the impact of the East-West struggle in the Third World – Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America – you will explore how the course of the Cold War was affected by wars, conflicts, and crises in the Global South. You will learn that the Global Cold War was not only dominated by the two superpowers, but was also heavily influenced by Third World actors and lesser Cold War powers such as the People’s Republic of China.

    The study of the Global Cold War is currently the most dynamic field in Cold War History and, probably, even in International and Military History more generally. As a result, you will be able to engage with a vast body of international literature, which is based on multi-lingual and multi-archival research around the world. Meanwhile, you will have the opportunity to analyse a vast array of documents, and carry out primary sources-based research. This is rendered possible by the availability of specific Cold War History document collections, national collections of diplomatic documents, as well as digital archives and document collections. 

  • HIST448 : Africa's Cold War (Optional)

    With decolonisation gathering pace in Africa in the late 1950s, the superpowers gained an increasing interest in the region and tried to secure the allegiance of the emerging and newly independent states in the Cold War. This struggle first affected West Africa, where the decolonisation wave took shape. In this module, you will study Africa’s Cold War from the late 1950s to the end of Apartheid in South Africa with a sub-regional focus on West, East, and Southern Africa. This will allow you to learn that the different Cold War crises and conflicts on the African continent saw – in addition to that of the superpowers – the involvement of the former colonial powers, the People’s Republic of China, as well as of lesser powers of the Western and the Eastern bloc. Moreover, it will become evident that African leaders and countries were not mere passive recipients of external policies, but they often played an active and influential role in the East-West struggle in and beyond their continent. Thereby, you will have the opportunity to engage with a truly international corpus of primary sources, such as the digital archive of the Cold War International History Project, and the growing literature on the Cold War in Africa in the fields of African, International, and Military History.