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MA in Modern History


Course code: HSTT47 (full-time) | HSTT61 (part-time)
Duration: 1 year (full-time) | 2 years (part-time)

Entry requirements and applying
Tuition fee information

Historians have long been fascinated by modernity and the societies to which it gave rise. From the French Revolution, human history has been marked by state-sponsored attempts to transform social and cultural life, from the dechristianisation campaigns of the Terror to the recreation of non-European societies by imperialism and the mass mobilisations of state socialism and the two world wars. Many of these attempts at transformation have given rise to episodes of appalling violence and genocide. Yet modernity has also brought undoubted benefits, not least the extraordinary human and scientific progress experienced first in the West. Representative government, the growth of the press and mass media, the rise of consumer culture and, in the twentieth century, the experience of sustained affluence made a real difference to the length and quality of ordinary people's lives and fostered new forms of participatory politics and social movements. 

Sheffield's long and distinguished tradition in modern history continues today with a group of internationally-renowned scholars working at the cutting-edge of their fields. The MA in Modern History draws on this expertise to examine these changes, allowing you to explore the political cleavages and cultural uncertainty unleashed by the great revolutions, the mobilisations and resistance of the two world wars, and the transnational forces of empire, and globalisation. A focus on contemporary history introduces you to the political and strategic imperatives of the Cold War as well as the new sense of the individual fostered by the counter-culture of the 1960s, shown in both the West's burgeoning interest in sexuality, subjectivity and the politics of protest, and the internationalist agenda set by the liberation struggles of the developing and decolonising world.

The flexibility of the programme allows you to carry out specialist research under expert supervision, and develop your understanding of the contemporary world and skills in using relevant 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 modern research community including the Cultures of the Cold War Network; the Centre for Contemporary and Modern History; Medical Humanities Sheffield; the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies and the Centre for the History of Journalism. These centres offer regular seminars and have active postgraduate participants. Postgraduate students also run their own discussion groups including the Sheffield Modern International History Group and the Gender History Discussion Group.

Research culture Postgraduate community

Our staff

Current staff interests cover a wide range of thematic and methodological perspectives from the early nineteenth-century to the twenty-first century and across the globe. Particular areas of expertise include fascism, repressive regimes and political violence; nationalism and international and economic relations; intellectual and cultural history; social history and welfare; gender and cultural history and media, popular culture and sexuality.

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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 distinctiveness of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a period and the selection and treatment of sources across a wide range of media. You can also undertake the language and technical training best suited to your research needs and elect to study major themes in 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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Find out more

Core modules

You will take three core modules




Year (Part-time students)

HST6603: Modernity & Power: Individuals & The State In The Modern World

Introduces you to the challenges of study modern history at an advanced level and the particular questions about perspective and interpretation that are raised. Seminars will focus on key themes and developments in recent historiography including an engagement with the use of interdisciplinary approaches.

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)

HST680: Media and Political Culture in Modern Britain 15 2 1 or 2
HST681: Work Placement 15 1 + 2 1 or 2
HST692: Prisoners of War in the Twentieth Century 15 2 1 or 2
HST699: The United States in Vietnam, 1945-1975 15 1 1 or 2
HST6042: Presenting the Past: Making History Public 15 2 1 or 2
HST6046: Sex and Power: The Politics of Women's Liberation in Modern Britain 15 2 1 or 2
HST6052: Stories of Activism, 1960 to the present 15 1 1 or 2
HST6053: Debating Cultural Imperialism in the Nineteenth-Century British Empire 15 2 1 or 2
HST6055: Microhistory and the History of Everyday Life 15 2 1 or 2
HST6062: Cold War Histories 15 2 1 or 2
HST6068: The Japanese Empire in East Asia, 1895-1945 15 1 1 or 2
HST6069: Worlds of Labour: Working Class Lives in Colonial South Asia 15 1 1 or 2
HST6072: Voices of the Great War: Gender, Experience and Violence in Great Britain and Germany, 1914-1918 15 1 1 or 2
HST6073: Medical Humanity? Medicine and Identity 15 1 1 or 2
HST6076: International Order in the Twentieth Century 15 2 1 or 2
HST6077: The U.S. Civil War in Global Context 15 2 1 or 2
HST6078: The United States and the Global 1970s 15 2 1 or 2
HST6082: Imagining the Republic: Irish Republicanism, 1798-1998 15 2 1 or 2
HST6084: Writing Late Antique Lives 15 2 1 or 2
HST6085: Under Attack: The Home Front during the Cold War 15 2 1 or 2
HST6087: Before Facebook: Social Networks in History 15 1 1 or 2
HST6088: New York City and the End of the 20th Century 15 1 1 or 2
HST6089: Wikipedia and Medieval History 15 1 1 or 2
HST6801: Research Skills for Historians 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
EGH622: Murderers and Degenerates: Contextualising the fin de siecle Gothic 30 2 1 or 2
LIT631: Post-war British Theatre, Film and Television 30 2 1 or 2
LIT635: Confession 30 2 1 or 2
LIT650: Mid-century Modernism 30 2 1 or 2
LIT665: Reimagining the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries 30 1 1 or 2
LIT699: New African Literatures 30 2 1 or 2
LIT6014: Texts, Politics & Performance 30 1 1 or 2
LIT6045: Humans, Animals, Monsters & Machines: From Gulliver's Travels to King Kong 30 1 1 or 2
LIT6090: Romantic Gothic 30 1 1 or 2
LIT6360: Memory and Narrative in Contemporary Literature 30 2 1 or 2
LIT6700: 'Tales of the City' - The Living Space in Contemporary American Fiction 30 1 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.

Modern British history

Photo of Emily Baughan.Dr Emily Baughan

Emily's research places the history of modern Britain within wider international and imperial contexts. She focuses particularly on the history of aid, development, and internationalism in the twentieth century and on connections between international humanitarianism and the British welfare state. She is also interested in the ways history can inform contemporary debates about aid and development.

Adrian BinghamDr Adrian Bingham

Adrian's main research interests are in the political, social and cultural history of twentieth-century Britain. He has worked extensively on the national popular press in the decades after 1918, examining the ways in which newspapers both reflected and shaped British society and culture. He has also worked on the press coverage of child sexual abuse. More recently, his research has focused on democratic engagement since 1918, exploring how British citizens understood politics and how they viewed its relationship to their lives.

Lucy Brown profile pictureDr Lucy Brown

Lucy’s research interests lie in the social and cultural changes occurring in Britain during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. She is particularly interested in the spread of popular psychology during this period, ideas about emotional expression, emotional relationships and emotional health, and the development of a ‘confessional’ and ‘therapeutic’ culture in modern Britain. Her research has focused on marriage and personal relationships in the 1960s and 1970s. She has worked on topics including the private lives of The Beatles, feminism and the commune movement. Lucy also has interests in the history of the welfare state in Britain as well as the history of mental health.

Photo of Julie GottliebDr Julie Gottlieb

Julie's research interests lie in modern British political history, the history of extremism (with a focus on the Far Right and British Fascism), and the construction of gender identities and citizenship in the aftermath of suffrage. She has published widely on women, fascism, and anti-fascism in Britain. Her current research examines women's resistance to fascism and to war, and the gendering of appeasement debate and the Munich Crisis.

Chris Millard Profile PictureDr Chris Millard

Chris researches the history of medicine and psychiatry in late-modern Britain (1900-present). He is particularly interested in ideas about mental health and mental illness, suicide and self-harm, child abuse, and emotional well-being. He looks at the interactions between the National Health Service, social work and broader welfare state when treating mental illness and promoting mental health. He is interested in how institutions and professional authority shape our sense of identity and self.

Photo of Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid.Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid

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

Caoimhe is currently engaged in two research projects. The first, entitled 'Writing Terrorist Lives' is a study of individual engagement with varieties of political violence from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century. It considers journeys from radicalisation, to mobilisation, to activism, and beyond to disengagement and re-engagement. Ranging across both geographical and historical locations and the ideological spectrum, it aims to explore the range of human experience which lies behind the blunt label of 'terrorist'. Her second project is in the field of Irish history, and is a study of the children of the executed men of the Easter Rising of 1916. This explores issues of memory, state commemorative practices, the forging of personal identities in the shadow of national foundational myth, as well as the legacies of political violence.

Colin reid Profile PictureDr Colin Reid

Colin will be on research leave in the 2020-21 academic year. Cover will be provided.

Colin’s research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish and British history. He is particularly interested in political, cultural and intellectual history approaches to understanding the impact of the Act of Union of 1800 within British and Irish life. The experience of Union underpins his historical writings, which include federalist political thought during the 1870s, constitutional nationalism during the Irish revolutionary period (c.1912-22), Irish Protestant literary figures in Britain, and the legal defences of republican rebellion during the nineteenth century.

Modern European history

Dr Laura Almagor

Profile coming soon.

Miriam DobsonDr Miriam Dobson

Miriam will be on leave in the 2020-21 academic year.

Miriam works on the social and cultural history of post-war Russia. Her first book explored popular responses to the reforms of the Khrushchev era, in particular the massive exodus of prisoners from the Gulag. Her current project focuses on a specific group – evangelical Protestants – but continues to develop her earlier interest in how individuals and communities related to the Soviet project. She is also interested in the role of religion in the Cold War more broadly.

Photo of Eirini KaramouziDr Eirini Karamouzi

Eirini will be on leave in Autumn 2020-21.

Eirini's research interests lie in the history of Western Europe since 1945, and in particular in the historical roots of the European integration process and the early stages of development of the EU, as indicated by her most recent monograph Greece, the EEC and the Cold War, 1974-1979. The Second Enlargement. She is also interested in the history of the Cold War in Europe and in the links between democracy and European identity. She is currently working on a new project that examines the role of the press and the public opinion in the construction of 'Europe' in southern Europe in the 1980s.

Dr Julia Moses

Julia will be on leave in the 2020-21 academic year.

Julia’s work analyses the relationship between government, law and civil society in Western Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It stands at the intersection of history, politics, sociology and law. She has especially sought to understand recent issues from historical comparative and transnational perspectives. These interests have led to investigations of the welfare state and ideas about risk; private law on the family and torts; and, the global diffusion of legal and social norms. She is currently completing a book on marriage and the family in the German Empire. Recent books focused on the global history of marriage and on risk, workplace accidents and the origins of European welfare states, which focused especially on Britain, Germany and Italy.

Photo of Andrew TompkinsDr Andrew Tompkins

Andrew Tompkins’ research focuses primarily on cross-border interactions, practices, and spaces. His current project investigates how residents of Franco-German and Polish-German borderlands appropriated the historically contested meanings associated with the Rhine River and Oder -Neisse Line for their own purposes after the Second World War. Previously, Andrew has worked on transnational protest movements, including the opposition to nuclear energy.

Photo of Mary VincentProfessor Mary Vincent

Mary's research interests lie in mid-twentieth-century Europe, specifically Spain during the Civil War (1931-39). Her interests in religion, fascism, and political violence come together in her current project, a history of General Franco's 'crusade', for which she was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. The project looks at religious extremism and the cultural and emotional impact of anticlerical violence, not least in Franco’s New State. Her earlier book, Modern Spain 1833-2002: People and State, also looked at questions of state legitimacy in a divided society. She has published widely on the history of gender, particularly masculinity and also has interests in the wider history of religion.

Photo of Benjamin ZiemannProfessor Benjamin Ziemann

Benjamin will be on research leave in Autumn 2020-21.

Benjamin has published widely on the social and cultural history of Modern Germany from the 1880s to the 1980s. He is an expert on the First World War and on German military history more generally. He has conducted extensive research on the place of religion in twentieth century German society, exploring themes such as secularization, the organizational history of the churches, and, more recently, changes in Protestant mentalities.

Modern American history

Photo of Andrew HeathDr Andrew Heath

Andrew's research interests lie at the intersection of the political, urban and social history of the USA during the nineteenth-century. His first single-authored book, In Union There Is Strength: Philadelphia in an Age of Urban Consolidation, will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press at the start of 2019. Tracing parallel responses to social crisis in the urban North and sectional crisis in the nation as a whole inspired a generation of citizens to explore the bonds of union, and link city growth to national integration and imperial expansion. He is currently working on a second book, tentatively entitled Let the Empire Come: Monarchy, Modernity, and a Reconstruction-era Conspiracy, which explores the appeal of - and the fears engendered by - authoritarianism in the post-Civil War United States.

Dr Rosie Knight

Rosie’s research focuses on women, race, and slavery in the American south. She has particular interest in the relationships between enslaved women and female slaveholders, mothering, and the slaveholding household. Her research also explores the uses of intersectionality in the history of women and slavery.

Photo of Sarah Miller-Davenport.Dr Sarah Miller-Davenport

Sarah will be on research leave in the 2020-21 academic year. Cover will be provided.

Sarah's research focuses on how Americans conceptualized their nation’s role in the world after World War II, and how the emergence of the United States as a global superpower transformed domestic culture, politics, and social relations. Her most recent book, Gateway State: Hawai'i and the Cultural Transformation of American Empire (Princeton 2019), explores the impact and meaning of Hawai‘i statehood in 1959 and its relationship to both the global movement for decolonization and the emergence of multiculturalism in American society. Her next project explores the reinvention of New York as a ‘global city’ in the wake of its fiscal crisis in the 1970s.

Dr Simon Toner Profile PictureDr Simon Toner

Simon will be on research leave in Autumn 2020-21.

Simon is a historian of the United States and the world, focusing particularly on the history of development and the American War in Vietnam. His work examines how a diverse array of U.S. actors formulated and projected ideas about postcolonial development into the Global South after 1945 and how “Third World” actors received, renegotiated and sometimes resisted these ideas and projects. He explores these themes in his book manuscript, which he is currently completing. Based primarily on Vietnamese and American archival sources, the manuscript examines the final years of the American War in Vietnam as an episode in the history of global development. In particular, it shows how changes in global development thinking and practice in the late 1960s and 1970s shaped debates within and between the allied U.S. and South Vietnamese governments and had a decisive impact on the course and outcome of the war.

Modern global history

Photo of Esme CleallDr Esme Cleall

Esme's research is on the politics of colonial difference and exclusion in the British Empire. She is particularly interested in the production of categories of otherness including those based around race, gender, religion and disability. Her monograph, Missionary Discourses of Difference: negotiating otherness in the British Empire, 1840-1900, explores the difference of gender and race through the writings of British missionaries stationed in nineteenth-century India and southern Africa. In particular, her focus is on the family and domesticity; sickness and medicine; and colonial violence; as key areas where anxieties around difference were particularly acute. Her new project extends this analysis by looking at disability and in particular deafness in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain and its empire. The project focuses on the relationship between disability and race as categories of difference and on how this was played out in colonial contexts.

Siobhan Lambert Hurley Profile PictureDr Siobhan Lambert Hurley

Siobhan is a cultural historian of modern South Asia with particular interests in women, gender and Islam. She has written on education, social and political organisations, Indian princely states, the culture of travel, missionaries and personal narratives. Her current projects focus on autobiographical and travel writings by Muslim women in South Asia.

Tehyun MaDr Tehyun Ma

Tehyun will be on leave in Autumn 2020-21.

Tehyun is a historian of modern China and Taiwan, with a particular focus on how state-building and propaganda fostered legitimacy at home and abroad. Her research explores the development of 'Free China' on Taiwan in the early Cold War, as well as the role of American sponsorship in regime consolidation. She is also interested in the transnational exchange of ideas in wartime East Asia, where she has looked at the translation and reception of the British Beveridge Plan – the blueprint for the postwar welfare state – among Chinese Nationalists.

Photo of Saurabh MishraDr Saurabh Mishra

Saurabh's interests lie in exploring a range of themes connected with the social history of colonial and post-colonial South Asia. More specifically, his focus areas till now have included the following: the history of science and medicine in the subcontinent, the nature of Islam in South Asia, the history of agrarian processes and structures, and the formation of colonial policies and ideologies. He is currently working on a project on indentured labour in British Guiana which investigates the lives and experiences of indentured labourers through the lens of medical/health issues. While the plantation economy has been studied by a number of historians, this project adopts a different perspective by focusing on the medical regime that labourers were subjected to.

Photo of Dr Simon Stevens.Dr Simon Stevens

Simon will be on research leave in Autumn 2020-21.

Simon is a specialist in twentieth-century international history, with a particular focus on the era of decolonisation and the history of Africa in the world. He is interested in changing ideas about how to organise international order, and in the strategies and tactics historical actors - especially those from the global south - have adopted in order to bring about political change. He is currently writing a book on the international history of global anti-apartheid movement's use of boycotts and sanctions, as well as articles on 'armed struggle' and the 'turn to violence' in South Africa in the 1960s.

Teaching and assessment

Our MA teaching focuses on small group seminars and masterclasses complimented by individual tutorials and supervision sessions. Seminars are usually two hours long and range from around 5-18 students in size. Teaching takes place between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. 30 credit core modules run for 10 weeks and most 15 credit modules run for 5 weeks.

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.