MA Banner Early ModernMA Banner Early ModernThe Meeting of Cortés and Montezuma.

MA in Early Modern History


Course code: HSTT45 (full-time) | HSTT59 (part-time)
Duration: 1 year (full-time) | 2 years (part-time)

Entry requirements and applying
Tuition fee information

Between c.1500 and c.1800, economic, political, social and cultural change was broad in reach and profound in effects. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the British civil wars, the settling of the 'New World', the early stages of industrialisation and the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution, were a series of ruptures that transformed the way people thought and lived. From the leadership of state and church down to the body and the self, contemporaries challenged and rethought the conditions of their existence.

Sheffield's long and distinguished tradition in early-modern history continues today with a group of internationally-renowned scholars working at the cutting-edge of their fields. The MA in Early Modern History draws on this expertise to provide a fascinating examination of the early modern world, and the opportunity to rethink some key narratives of change. The flexibility of the programme allows you to carry out specialist research under expert supervision, and develop your understanding of the early modern world and skills in using early modern sources, while focusing on the particular skills that are most important to you through our optional modules.

A vibrant research community

The Department is a thriving research community and we actively encourage our MA students to make the most of their time at Sheffield by getting involved in our research activities and events, as well as organising their own through the Postgraduate Forum. This vibrant research culture and postgraduate community helps to disseminate research-led findings and facilitate lively and exhaustive historical debate.

The Department has its own research seminar series, which runs regularly during semester-time and covers a huge range of topics. There is also an active early modern research community including the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies (SCEMS), which has its own range of research events including visiting speakers; masterclasses and workshops. The SCEMS event series also includes regular events organised by the Early Modern Discussion Group (EMDG), a postgraduate discussion group which meets regularly throughout the academic year.

Research culture Postgraduate community

Our staff

Current staff interests cover both Britain and Europe, from the Renaissance and the Reformation to the period of the American and French Revolutions. We have a notable concentration of expertise around the English civil war and political mobilisation complemented by an interest in the European colonisation of America and the development of American society in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We also offer particular expertise on the social and cultural history of early modern England, urban history and criminal justice and in the application of information technology to the humanities.

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How it works


The taught component of the MA is designed to both develop your understanding of key historiographical and methodological approaches though a core module, which examines the essential workings of the early modern world and develops your skills in using early modern sources. You can also undertake the language and technical training best suited to your research needs and elect to study major themes in early modern history in closer detail. The dissertation will provide you with the opportunity to further develop the skills and methods that you learn during your taught modules and to apply this historical knowledge to your independent investigation.


You will choose modules totalling 180 credits over the full year of study - this includes 120 credits of taught modules plus a Dissertation worth 60 credits.

You will take three core modules worth 105 credits and your remaining 75 credits will be made up of a selection of option modules. 


You will choose modules totalling 180 credits over the two years of study - this includes 120 credits of taught modules plus a Dissertation worth 60 credits.

You will take three core modules worth 105 credits - an approaches module (year one) and both the Research Presentation and the Dissertation (year two). Your remaining 75 credits will be made up of a selection of option modules. We recommend spreading your overall credits evenly across both years of study to create a balanced workload. 

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Core modules

You will take three core modules




Year (Part-time students)

HST6602: Early Modernities

Will focus on critical analysis of the many ways in which assumptions about 'pre-modern' and 'modern' cultures and societies have shaped historians' approaches to the early modern period. Seminars will focus on ideas of individuality and self-hood in the early modern period. You will also be introduced to technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of pre-modern sources.

30 1 1

HST6560: Dissertation

Provides you with the opportunity to further develop the skills and methods that you learn during your taught modules and to apply this historical knowledge to your investigation. You will work under the supervision of an expert member of staff to complete an original 15,000 word piece of independent research.

60 1 + 2 2

HST6802: Research Presentation

Designed to equip you with the skills and experience that you need to present and communicate a defined historical research project to an academic audience.

15 2 2
Option modules

You will choose 75 credits of option modules

This 75 credit selection can include up to 30 credits of unrestricted modules. Unrestricted modules can include non-history modules cross-listed from other departments (see Non-history modules) and/or modules from the broader range of history MA options, where the relevant module(s) will complement your core studies i.e. allowing further exploration of a particular theme across time and geographical boundaries (see MA in Historical Research options).

The modules listed below are those that we are planning to offer in 2020-21. Please note that module availability may still change at this stage i.e. due to staff changes or student uptake at registration.*

Please note that due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are anticipating the need to make some changes to our option modules for 2020-21. We will be in touch with applicants directly and we will update this list as soon as any changes are finalised. 




Year (Part-time students)

HST681: Work Placement 15 1 + 2 1 or 2
HST694: Revolutionary England, 1640-1660: Politics, Culture and Society 15 2 1 or 2
HST6031: The Dawn of Modernity in the Late Middle Ages 15 2 1 or 2
HST6042: Presenting the Past: Making History Public 15 2 1 or 2
HST6043: Burying the White Gods: Indigenous People in the Early Modern Colonial World 15 2 1 or 2
HST6054: Language and Society in Early Modern England 15 1 1 or 2
HST6055: Microhistory and the History of Everyday Life 15 2 1 or 2
HST6073: Medical Humanity? Medicine and Identity 15 1 1 or 2
HST6084: Writing Late Antique Lives 15 2 1 or 2
HST6087: Before Facebook: Social Networks in History 15 1 1 or 2
HST6089: Wikipedia and Medieval History 15 1 1 or 2
HST6092: Women and Slavery in the Antebellum American South 15 2 1 or 2
HST6801: Research Skills for Historians 15 1 1 or 2
HST6850: Palaeography 15 1 1 or 2
HST61005: History and Policy 15 1 1 or 2
HST61007: Oral History 15 2 1 or 2


Non-history modules

Please note that teaching and assessment methods may vary for non-History modules. You can request to take a module not listed below (subject to availability) as part of provisional module choice, any requested modules should be relevant to your programme of study. Information about other available language modules is available here. 

The modules listed below are those that our partner departments within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities are planning to offer in 2020-21. Please note that module availability may still change at this stage i.e. due to staff changes or student uptake at registration. The owning department has final approval for acceptance onto their modules and, if space becomes limited, priority may be given to students registered in that department. *




Year (Part-time students)

AAP637: Heritage, Place and Community 15 2 1 or 2
AAP6102: Heritage, History and Identity 15 1 1 or 2
AAP6219: Digital Cultural Heritage: Theory and Practice 15 2 1 or 2
LIT646: Renaissance Transformations 30 1 1 or 2
LIT6045: Humans, Animals, Monsters & Machines: From Gulliver's Travels to King Kong 30 1 1 or 2
LIT6047: Early Modern Books 15 1 1 or 2
LIT6090: Romantic Gothic 30 1 1 or 2
MLT116A: Latin Beginners 1 & MLT6061 Enhanced Languages Project 15 1 1 or 2
MLT116B: Latin Beginners 2 & MLT6062 Enhanced Languages Project
(pre-requisite: you must take MLT116A & MLT6061 above)
15 2 1 or 2
MLT2116: Latin Post-Beginners 1 & MLT6061 Enhanced Languages Project
(pre-requisite: you must have a previous Latin qualification such as MLT116B)
15 1 1 or 2
MLT2117: Latin Post-Beginners 2 & MLT6062 Enhanced Languages Project
(pre-requisite: you must take MLT2116 & MLT6061 above)
15 2 1 or 2


Our staff

Below is information about staff working in your area of interest and their expected availability for the 2020-21 academic year. Please note that this information could still change at this stage in the academic year.

Michael-Braddick-ProfileProfessor Mike Braddick

Mike has published widely on aspects of state formation and forms of political resistance in early modern England, as well as on the first stages of British imperial expansion. More recently he has been working on the English revolution and have published God’s Fury, England’s Fire: a new history of the English civil wars and The Common Freedom of the People: John Lilburne and the English revolution, as well as editing The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution. His current research is on partisanship in early modern popular culture, the relationship between high and low politics, the role of gesture in creating identities and expressing dissent, and on the commodification of bread in England between around 1300 and 1800.

Kate Davison Profile PictureDr Kate Davison

Kate will be on research leave in Spring 2020-21.

Kate is a social and cultural historian of eighteenth-century Britain. Her current research is focused on humour and laughter in this period, and how they played a part in social practices and political processes. Through this she has engaged with broader historiographical debates around the ‘civilising process’ and the rise of politeness, as well as the development of a ‘public sphere’ of sociability and political participation. She also has an interest in approaches and methods associated with social network analysis in historical contexts.

Photo of Tom LengDr Tom Leng

Tom's research interests lie in seventeenth-century British history, with a particular interest in commercial policies, discourses and practice. In 2008 he published a biography of Benjamin Worsley (1618-1677), an individual most famous for having claimed to have drafted the Navigation Act of 1651, but whose diverse interests also included experimental science, alchemy and spiritual introspection. His current research focuses on social and commercial relations within early modern merchant communities, particularly the Merchant Adventurers.

Erin MaglaqueDr Erin Maglaque

Erin’s interests focus on early modern European cultural and social history. Her research focuses on early modern Italy and its transnational connections across the Mediterranean world. She has a particular interest in questions of identity, including gender and ethnicity, across the plural early modern Mediterranean. Her work has investigated the political culture of the Venetian empire, gender and humanism, imperial subjecthood, and increasingly, race and religious belonging.

Photo of Anthony MiltonProfessor Anthony Milton

Anthony's main area of research lies in the religious, political and intellectual history of England 1560-1660, although he also has active research interests in Dutch and modern Indonesian history. He has worked extensively on political thought, religion, and the public sphere in early Stuart England, and is particularly interested in English contacts with continental Europe: you can see him discussing the influence of the Heidelberg Catechism in early modern England at

Photo of Caroline Dodds PennockDr Caroline Pennock

Caroline's research focuses on Aztec and early American history and the Atlantic world, with a particular interest in gender, violence, and cultural exchange. Her first book studied the role of ritual violence, integrating the study of human sacrifice with a reinterpretation of Aztec gender and daily life. She is currently working on a major new book studying the neglected history of Native American travellers to Europe and beyond before the founding of Jamestown.

Photo of James ShawDr James Shaw

James works on the relationship of legal structures (laws, practices, institutions) to the daily practices of economic life, with a special focus on early modern Italy. He has worked on petty crime and small claims litigation in Venice, and on retailing in the medical sector in Florence. His present research examines denunciations of contractual fraud from seventeenth-century Venice to explore how people experienced the workings of the market at the everyday level of understandings, practices and customs. He is particularly interested in the way that people's experiences of credit markets were conditioned by factors such as poverty, gender and status.

Photo of Phil WithingtonProfessor Phil Withington

Phil works on various aspects of the social and cultural history of England, Ireland and the wider world between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Current interests include urbanization and urban culture; citizenship and popular politics; intoxicants and intoxication; the history of language and its uses; and the social history of the Renaissance. His most recent book is Society in Early Modern England.

Teaching and assessment

Our MA teaching focuses on small group seminars and masterclasses complimented by individual tutorials and supervision sessions.

Assessment focuses on essays and a dissertation complimented by oral assessment in the Research Presentation module. Essays usually look to explore the key themes of the module and engage with current historical debate through a question of your choosing. Our public history modules offer the opportunity to undertake group work and/or develop writing styles appropriate for different academic and non-academic audiences.

Our campus and how we use it:

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.

Timetable and deadlines

Tailor your degree

Our MA degrees are carefully designed to allow you to build a programme that suits your needs: whether you want to progress to PhD research, aid your career development or simply expand your knowledge in your chosen area of history.

In addition to the skills and knowledge that you will develop through your core modules, you can use the option modules to focus on the areas most relevant to you including the option to gain experience in public history. For those interested in PhD progression, we offer both individual and group support to help you develop your ideas and write a strong research proposal suitable for funding applications.

Skills development Public history PhD progression

Entry requirements

Students wishing to take this programme should normally have a 2.1 or equivalent in a Bachelors degree in history or another humanities or social sciences discipline (i.e. English, languages, politics, philosophy, archaeology or journalism) from a recognised UK or overseas university. Please see the University's online prospectus for full entry requirement details.

If you are an international student, you need to provide proof of English Language proficiency with a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).


You can apply for one of our MA programmes using our online application form. There is no formal deadline for applying and we can usually accept applications until mid-August for entry that September.

You'll find the answer to many common questions such as what supporting documents to provide and what to include in your statement on our Common questions page. 

Online prospectus 2020 
International qualifications 
English qualifications 
English support

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Common questions

Additional support information 

Information for disabled students

We're committed to responding effectively and appropriately to individual support needs. Find out more.

If you have a question about applying, or would like to discuss your individual qualifications, just get in touch.

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*Please note that the course details set out here may change before you start, particularly if you are applying significantly in advance of the course start date. The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.