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; school 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

Historical and Heritage Sites

  • Sheffield Cathedral - Functioning Sites, Historical Significance: Issues in operative heritage sites today
  • Sheffield Manor Lodge 1940s Living History - An Assessment of the Value of Living History as a Pedagogical Tool within Museums
  • Sheffield Cathedral The First World War - The Re-defining of Sheffield Cathedral: Heritage, history and the ‘Touched by the Past’ project
  • Brodsworth House a British officer as Prisoner of War - From Surviving to Thriving?: The British country house since the turn of the twentieth-century
  • Chatsworth Footmen and Liveries - Chatsworth House: An exercise in public narrative
  • Chatsworth Servants - An Upstairs View of a Downstairs life: Authenticity and servants in the English country house

Museums and Galleries

  • Bank St Arts Centre - Public History in an Art Gallery: Dissemination and its Pitfalls
  • Turner Museum of Glass - The Place of the Historic Collection in the Modern Museum
  • Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust - New Museology and the Ongoing Struggle of Identity Formation in an Ever Changing Society
  • Newark Civil War Centre Education - Achieving Balance in History Education
  • Newark Civil War Centre Collections Research - Negotiating Local Stories in a National Context
  • Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust - Kelham Island Museum: Industrial Sheffield and the War Heroes
  • Barnsley Museum & Heritage Service 'Women Against Pit Closures' - Giving Working Class Women a Voice: Creating Democratising Historical Narratives in the Museum


Please note that schools projects tend to focus on curriculum and approaches to teaching rather than providing practical teaching experience

  • Dobcroft Infants School - Beyond the National Curriculum: Forgotten soldiers and the dissemination of multi-cultural history
  • Dobcroft Primary - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Teaching of ‘Citizenship’ in Primary Schools
  • Yewlands Technology College - Analysing Tensions in the National Curriculum for History at Key Stage 3

Archives and Libraries

  • Sheffield University Library Archives and Special Collections - Accessing the Archive: The practicalities and problems of disseminating knowledge in the archival environment
  • Derby City Council - Local Studies and Family History Library (Derby Local Studies and Family History Library: Preserving memory, constructing history
  • National Fairground Archive - Digitizing the Archive: Potential benefits, risks, difficulties and consequences

Public History, Community & Industry Engagement

  • Sheffield Theatres - Heritage and Memory: Conflicts within historical research
  • Friends of Sheffield Castle - Sheffield Castle and the Difficulties and Importance of Public History
  • Henderson's Ltd - History as Commodity in the Digital Era: A case study of Henderson's Relish Ltd
  • 320 rue St Jacques: The Diary of Madeleine Blaess - The Curious Case of Historical Knowledge Exchange
  • The Montgomery Theatre Social History - Public History and Historians in Theatres: How and why history is disseminated to the public outside of heritage based institutions
  • 100 Objects / Museums Sheffield Research & Handling - Exploring ideas of Community Heritage, Public Engagement and Institutional Collaboration: The ‘Our City, Our Objects’ Project
  • School of Nursing and Midwifery Told in South Yorkshire - The Presence of the Past: Memory, History, and Approaches to the Living Past
  • The Sheffield Star Newspaper - Postmodernist Scholarship of Memory: A case study of memory and nostalgia in a local newspaper’s historical supplement

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 analaysis 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
  • Living with the Sheffield Circus
  • Voices of the Strike
  • History is Everywhere
  • Then and Now: Music Mad Britain
  • Breaking Windows: Riots in Great Britain
  • Remembering 84 An Interactive Local History of the Miners' Strike
  • Royalist or Parliamentarian An Exploration of Allegiance in the English Civil War
  • Sheffield Manor Lodge 1940s Living History Centre
  • Sheffield WW1 & Now


* 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.