MA Public History

Public history experience

We have a range of option modules focusing on aspects of public history. These modules are available across all of our degree programmes and are designed specifically to provide you with the opportunity to reflect on the role of history in the public sphere and enable you to develop different kinds of transferable skills and experience. These can be especially valuable for those considering a career in history outside of academia.

There are also options available from other departments in the Faculty that allow you to focus on digital humanities; public engagement and heritage, community and identity.

Work Placement

The module will give you an insight into the day to day workings of, for example, a museum; heritage site; archive or research institute and help you develop history-specific vocational skills. You will gain practical experience of the application of historical skills and knowledge outside of academia and be encouraged to reflect on the challenges involved in disseminating historical knowledge and understanding in a public context.

Placements vary from year to year but there is always a comparable range of projects on offer across a variety of organisations. You will complete a placement application form indicating your preferred placements as part of the registration process. Once your placement is confirmed, you will negotiate your specific role with the work placement partner.

Examples of placements and projects
  • 250 Anniversary of the Circus Conference - 'Circus and Beyond' conference: A reflection on the integration of the academy and the wider community
  • Abbeydale Picturehouse - Oral history and the preservation of Sheffield's cultural heritage: experiences at the Abbeydale Picture House.
  • ArcHeritage / Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership - Power and Accessibility in the Creation of Heritage: A Historian's Reflection on Working within Community Archaeology
  • Barnsley Arts, Museums and services - The Dissemination of History in museums: cultural environment or place of learning?
  • Clerical exile in late Antiquity - Migration in Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity (325-600)
  • Doncaster Heritage Services: Doncaster 1914-18 - Public history, private interests? Reflections on Doncaster museum and issues of community representation
  • Makers Abbeydale Road - 'A Street Through Time': Abbeydale Road Local History Project
  • Sheffield Manor Lodge - A Reflection on the Boundaries of Public History
  • Nether Edge History Group - A subject divided? A case study of the role of the historian in Nether Edge History Group
  • Peak in the Past Community Heritage Project - The Promotion of Public History Through Online Resources
  • Sheffield Library Archives & Special Collections - A Historian in the Workplace: Reflections from the archive
  • Sheffield Manor Lodge - The Pursuits of Global Heritage and Developing Audiences in a local Setting
  • Sheffield Town Trust and the Old Town Hall - 'Encouraging ownership': Reconciling explorations of history outside of the academy
  • Sheffield University Heritage Office & Alumni Office - A reflection of public History: museums, exhibitions and local history.
  • The Digital Panopticon - Reflections on the Digital Panopticon
  • The History of Classics in Sheffield - When the Layman met the Academic: Reflections on Public History
  • The National Railway Museum - In the Museum: Presenting the Public with the Past
  • Tinsley Time and Travel - 'The Last Vestige of Rural Beauty': Local heritage and identity in Tinsley, Sheffield.

Placement booklets from the last two years are also available to download on the right.


Presenting the Past: Making History Public

This module focuses on the interpretation and creation of 'public history'. It enables you to reflect on the challenges involved in disseminating history outside academia including writing for the 'public'; sound and vision; and digital history. You will develop critical skills in interrogating public history through analysis of examples as well as communication and presentation skills for non-academic audiences by working as part of a group to develop your own project and create an example of a public history output.

Students have in the past created websites; mobile apps; blogs; twitter feeds; poster displays; films; video and oral interviews; interactive exhibitions often using a combination of these media. Optional workshops will help you to develop the necessary skills in basic web design; multimedia production and editing as well as 3D modelling to enable the creation of virtual exhibitions.

This module may be of particular interest if planning to pursue careers in heritage, museums or education.


Examples of projects
  • Medieval Sheffield (Video documentary)
  • Forged in Time: Women of Modern Sheffield (Virtual exhibition)
  • The History of Sheffield's Music Scene: A fan's perspective (Video documentary)
  • Circa Conversations (Blog and podcast)
  • Wentworth Woodhouse: Britain's Forgotten Palace (Video documentary)
  • Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and Slavery at Monticello (Virtual exhibition)
  • "We are Women, We are Strong" (Video documentary)
  • The Old Lighthouse Podcast (Podcast)
  • The King's Own Royal Light Infantry in the Second World War Exhibition (Virtual exhibition)
  • The Battle of Orgreave (Video documentary)
  • Circus in the City: 250 year of Circus in Sheffield (Video documentary)
  • Final Remembrance Podcast (Podcast)
  • Western Road's War Memorial Trees (Video documentary)


* 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.