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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

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 engagment 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 2018-19. Please note that module availability may still change at this stage i.e. due to student uptake at registration.*




Year (Part-time students)

HST680: Media and Political Culture in Modern Britain 15 1 1 or 2
HST681: Work Placement 15 1 and 2 1 or 2
HST692: Prisoners of War in the Twentieth Century 15 1 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
HST6055: Microhistory and the History of Everyday Life 15 1 1 or 2
HST6062: Cold War Histories 15 2 1 or 2
HST6066: Autobiography, Identity and the Self in Muslim South Asia 15 1 1 or 2
HST6068: The Japanese Empire in East Asia, 1895-1945 15 2 1 or 2
HST6069: Worlds of Labour: Working Class Lives in Colonial South Asia 15 2 1 or 2
HST6071: Life Stories: Men and Women in War and Revolution, 1936-1949 15 1 1 or 2
HST6072: Voices of the Great War: Gender, Experience and Violence in Great Britain and Germany, 1914-1918 15 2 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 1 1 or 2
HST6082: Imagining the Republic: Irish Republicanism, 1798-1998 15 2 1 or 2
HST6083: Borders in 20th Century Europe 15 2 1 or 2
HST6084: Writing Late Antique Lives 15 1 1 or 2
HST6801: Research Skills for Historians 15 1 1 or 2
HST6085: Under Attack: The Home Front during the Cold War 15 1 1 or 2
HST6087: Before Facebook: Social Networks in History 15 2 1 or 2
HST6088: New York City and the End of the 20th Century 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 2018-19. Please note that module availability may still change at this stage i.e. due to student uptake at registration. Please note that the IPA modules in particular may be withdrawn - more information will be available on these modules by the end of July. *




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
IPA650: Language in Use: an introduction to corpus-based linguistic analysis 15 1 1 or 2
IPA651: Language in Use: an introduction to corpus-based linguistic analysis 15 1 1 or 2
LIT631: Post-war British Drama, Film and TV 30 1 1 or 2
LIT635: Confession 30 1 1 or 2
LIT637: Victorian Bodies 30 2 1 or 2
LIT651: I want a hero: Romantic and Victorian Epic 30 2 1 or 2
LIT699: New African Literatures 30 1 1 or 2
LIT6021: Exchanging Letters: Art and Correspondence in Twentieth-Century American Culture 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 2 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 2 1 or 2
Our staff

Below is information about staff working in your area of interest and their availability for the 2018-19 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 will be on research leave in autumn semester 2018-19.

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 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 attitudes to gender, sexuality and class. Beyond his work on the press, he is interested in popular attitudes to politics; cultural hierarchies, particularly the category of the 'middlebrow'; the circulation of knowledge about sex; and the social and cultural changes in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.

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 leave for the 2018-19 academic year.

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’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

Tim BaycroftDr Timothy Baycroft

Tim has recently published a history of French identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, entitled Inventing France. He also has an interest in comparative identity formation in border regions and, more widely in memory, identity and nationalism, particularly in France. He has recently begun work on a study of the Commune in Lyons.

Miriam DobsonDr Miriam Dobson

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 Dina GusejnovaDr Dina Gusejnova

Dina will be on leave for the 2018-19 academic year.

Dina's research interests are on the connections between the intellectual, social and cultural history of twentieth-century Germany and Central Europe, in particular the moments of political transition and the social situations in which ideas and ideologies emerge. Her current project is an exploration of the history of statelessness in modern Europe, with a particular focus on the cultural and intellectual history of internment during the Second World War.

Photo of Eirini KaramouziDr Eirini Karamouzi

Eirini will be on leave for the 2018-19 academic year.

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.

Photo of Daniel LeeDr Daniel Lee

Daniel's research interests are in modern French and modern Jewish history. His first book, Pétain's Jewish Children: French Jewish Youth and the Vichy Regime, 1940–42 explored the coexistence between young French Jews and the Vichy regime, whilst his current research is on the experience of Tunisian Jews during the Second World War.

Photo of Bob MooreProfessor Bob Moore

Bob's research interests include the Holocaust, with specific reference to Western Europe, the history of the Netherlands, and prisoners of war in twentieth-century conflicts. He completed a monograph on the rescue of Jews in Europe during World War II in 2010 and is currently working on a history of prisoners-of war in Europe during the Second World War. In addition, he has published on decolonisation and refugee policy in the 1930s and is happy to offer supervision in these fields as well. 

Dr Julia Moses

Julia will be on research leave for the 2018-19 academic year.

Julia's main research interests lie in the history of social problems and policy in Britain and Western Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She has published on five main strands of her research: the history of the welfare state, private law, and especially torts; transnational history; marriage and the family and, the history of ideas about 'risk'. She has recently completed a comparative study of conceptions of risk, workplace accidents and the welfare state in Britain, Germany and Italy, and her current research investigates the political history of marriage in Imperial Germany from transnational and global perspectives.

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 will be on research leave for the 2018-19 academic year. Dr James Yeoman is providing cover in 2018-19.

Mary's main research interests lie in the history of modern Spain, particularly around the period of the Second Republic, Civil War (1931-39) and the Franco regime (1936-75). Her interests in religion, fascism, and political violence come together in her current project, a history of General Franco's 'crusade', and she has also published on the history of gender. Her recent book, Modern Spain 1833-2002: People and State explores questions of state legitimacy in a divided society.

Stephanie WrightDr Stephanie Wright

Stephanie is a social historian of modern Spain, with broader interests in the social and cultural legacies of war, as well as the histories of gender, disability, authoritarianism and race. Her doctoral research explored representations and experiences of the ‘Nationalist’ war disabled of the Spanish Civil War, as well as citizen-state relations under the Francoist regime. She has also investigated the lives of Moroccan veterans of the Spanish Civil War, particularly with reference to their relationships with Spanish women, and is particularly interested in the intersection of gender with other identity markers, such as disability, race and class.

James_YeomanDr James Yeoman

James’s research focuses on modern Spanish history, in particular the anarchist movement in Spain and its development over the nineteenth century through to the Spanish Civil War. His work has explored the role of grassroots printing culture in laying the cultural foundations of the movement, prior to its mass expansion in the early twentieth century. His current and future research will expand this focus internationally, exploring the transnational connections between anarchist movements across Europe and the Americas.

Photo of Benjamin ZiemannProfessor Benjamin Ziemann

Benjamin has published widely on many aspects of modern German history from the 1880s to the 1980s, including political, social and cultural history, with a particular emphasis on the First World War and the Weimar Republic. One of his main fields of interest is the history of religion in twentieth century Germany. He is happy to supervise postgraduate work on any aspect of German history since 1871.

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. He is currently working on a monograph exploring how the optimism and anxiety engendered by America's imperial expansion over the civil war years shaped the way citizens imagined, built and used the city of Philadelphia.

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'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 current project 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.

Dr Simon Toner Profile PictureDr Simon Toner

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 will be on research leave for the 2018-19 academic year.

Esme is an historian of the cultural and social history of the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research looks at ideas about ethnicity, gender and disability both within the British Isles and in the Empire overseas. She has explored these identities and constructs in various contexts including through research on families, sickness, missionaries and colonial violence. One of her current projects focusses on disability in the British empire, tracing attitudes towards deafness and Deaf identity between colonial sites. Another focusses on colonial families.

Tehyun MaDr Tehyun Ma

Tehyun will be on research leave in autumn semester 2018-19.

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 research focuses on modern South Asian history, with a particular interest in issues related to colonial ideologies, medical/scientific developments, and the history of caste and religion. He is currently working on a monograph that explores a range of themes connected to the social life of livestock in South Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Siobhan Lambert Hurley Profile PictureDr Siobhan Lambert Hurley

Siobhan will be on research leave in spring semester 2018-19.

Siobhan Lambert-Hurley 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 project focuses on autobiographical writing by Muslim women in South Asia.

Photo of Dr Simon Stevens.Dr Simon Stevens

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 their efforts to bring about political change. He is currently writing an international history of the use of boycotts and sanctions by the global anti-apartheid movement.

Teaching and assessment

Our MA teaching focusses on small group seminars and masterclasses complimented by individual tutorials and supervision sessions. Seminars are usually two hours long and range from around 5-15 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 focusses 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.

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 a related subject (i.e. English, languages, politics, philosophy, archaeology or journalism) from a recognised UK or overseas university.

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. 

English qualifications English support

Apply now Common questions

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 is current and relevant. Individual modules may be updated or withdrawn in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, curriculum review, staff availability, and variations in student numbers. In the event of a material change the University will inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.