MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies

HSTT53 (FT), HSTT54 (PT)

Students enter this programme either through History or through English. You will choose from the same option modules, but one or two of your core modules will be restricted to your department of entry. Below you will see the History track. For more information on the English track, please see

Work Placement | Course Structure

An Eighteenth Century Political Cartoon

This MA provides an opportunity to study one of the most exciting fields of interdisciplinary historical research in Britain and North America, the period c.1650-1850. Taught in association with members of staff in the Department of English Literature, it focuses on the interface between historical and literary approaches to text, culture and society, although the aim is to explore new ways of analyzing this period using a range of approaches. Examining a variety of sources, ranging from novels and poetry, through newspapers, court records and letters, to paintings and artefacts – many of them available in Sheffield – this MA covers both Britain and America during this period of rapid and substantial change.

An Eighteenth Century Political Cartoon

You take our core eighteenth-century module in which students of both Literature and History discuss key themes. You then select from a large number of optional modules from both disciplines, in which you work with experts on a range of topics, including sex, crime, consumption, material culture and the family. You then build on this work in your dissertation, for which you will receive the regular and supportive supervision needed to help you define your topic and pursue it through to a successful conclusion. If you are interested in going on to doctoral research, you will receive guidance on how to put together a PhD proposal.

The MA meets the research and training needs of those intending to progress to doctoral study, but is also appropriate for those with a more general enthusiasm for the eighteenth century. For all students, it offers the chance to take a fresh perspective on this fascinating period during which – for contemporaries, and for many modern scholars – the modern world came into being. The analytical skills you acquire, together with an advanced knowledge of this period, will equip you for careers in teaching, journalism, writing, heritage management or areas such as the civil service and public administration as well as for further study in your chosen field.

If you are planning to pursue doctoral study after your MA, an optional module, PhD proposal, allows you to devise and refine a research proposal, following the guidelines and advice set out by the funding councils, particularly the AHRC. Alternatively, you may follow the Work Placement scheme.

Work Placement scheme

This opportunity to acquire vocational experience is a unique feature of the Sheffield MA. A taught module entitled Work Placement provides an opportunity to develop history-specific vocational skills in a working environment. Examples of recent placements include archive work for a local archaeological consultancy company, exhibition research and design for English Heritage, working with teachers in Sheffield schools, cataloguing small collections in the Sheffield Archives, working in the Humanities Research Institute on Old Bailey criminal records, devising a publicity strategy, analysing digitised material, and designing online learning environments for school children studying history.

Student profile

'I was a secondary school history teacher and wanted to make a move into museum-based education. I applied for a few jobs straight from teaching but was told that without specific museum experience I was unlikely to be successful. I soon realised I would need help to find a volunteer opportunity that would give me the experience I was looking for, so when I saw that the MA at Sheffield had a work placement module, I realised it was perfect for me because it allowed me to get experience, whilst gaining a higher qualification in Twentieth Century History.

I was placed with English Heritage at Brodsworth Hall and worked on a range of projects that gave me museum experience I would never have been able to get by myself, including a project of my own that involved researching and writing the stewards' reference file for the newly opened Aga Kitchen. I was also able to make other useful contacts in the wider English Heritage organisation who gave me additional volunteer opportunities, the largest of which involved me designing and producing educational materials for an entire English Heritage site.

I am about to start a new job at the Imperial War Museum as an Education Officer in their formal learning department, something I would never have been able to achieve without the experience I gained through the work placement module at Sheffield. I am really glad I decided to do my MA at Sheffield!'

Eleanor Macdonald, MA in Twentieth Century History

Course Structure

Credits (Semester)
HST6812: The Eighteenth Century: Research Approaches 30 (1)
Students will take all 3 Core modules
  HST6560: Dissertation 60 (1+2)
  HST6802: Research Presentation 15 (2)
Students must take a total of 75 credits from these sections






HST6027: PhD Proposal 15 (1)
(choose at least 1) HST6801: Research Skills for Historians 15 (1)
  HST6850: Palaeography 15 (1)
HST681: Work Placement 15 (1+2)
HST6032: Reading Italian for Historical Research 15 (2)
  HST6038: Framing the Past The Eighteenth-Century on Film 15 (2)
  HST6854: Arguing about Eighteenth-Century Crime 15 (1)
  HST6886: Eighteenth-Century British American Colonies 15 (2)
  LIT6007: The Rise of the Gothic, 1790-1890 * 30 (-)
  LIT6008: The English Civil War: Writing Politics, History * 30 (-)
  LIT6011: Fiction and Reality * 30 (-)
  LIT6012: Romantic Ireland * 30 (-)
  LIT6340: Eighteenth Century Scottish Verse * 30 (-)
  LIT6570: Women's Writing and the Politics of Romanticism * 30 (-)
  * subject to change  
Credit Total: 180

In line with our policy for continuous improvement, courses within the Department are continually being reviewed. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information above but the University can not accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions.