About this course
This innovative MA in Modern History thinks about how the past is ‘applied’ in the modern world.
- Gain a deeper understanding of history
- Undertake intensive work with archival material
- Learn from academics at the cutting edge of their discipline
- Master the skills of research, analysis, argument and writing
History at LJMU is consistently rated highly by our students and graduates. Indeed our History degree was named 9th best in the 2020 Guardian University league Table. Embarking on this course you will join a vibrant postgraduate community within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, be taught by research active teaching staff and study modules including: Second World War film and cinema, modern internationalism and slavery in Liverpool.
While firmly rooted in research-led scholarship, the programme also explores how societies use history, providing an understanding of the ways in which historians can take their skills and apply them beyond the university environment.
The course reflects the team’s varied and wide-ranging interests, facilitating a varied range of study, often in new and innovative fields. Our modules cross national borders and historical approaches, encountering a rich array of primary source materials from newspapers and magazines, film, the ephemeral, through to statistics and propaganda.
History students at LJMU get involved in a wide range of activities over and above their studies to broaden their skills, knowledge and love of their subject. To help commemorate the 75th anniversary of the the end of the Second World War, representatives of the History department worked with National Trust Formby and Drama at LJMU to create a walking tour around the sand dunes and Formby Point. The dramatisation told the story of the hundreds of children who were evacuated to places like Formby during the Blitz.*
Fees and funding
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students
The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:
- Library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
- Access to programme-appropriate software
- Library and student IT support
- Free on-campus wifi via eduroam
Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:
- accommodation and living expenditure
- books (should you wish to have your own copies)
- printing, photocopying and stationery
- PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
- mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
- field trips (travel and activity costs)
- placements (travel expenses and living costs)
- student visas (international students only)
- study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
- academic conferences (travel costs)
- professional-body membership
- graduation (gown hire etc)
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.
Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.
Further your career prospects
LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.
The MA Modern History will enhance your prospects in a wide variety of careers, such as teaching, research, academia, print journalism and the creative, cultural and heritage industries. The programme develops sophisticated skills of research, analysis, argument, theorisation, abstraction, evidence and writing. These are highly valued in many areas of employment.
Discover the building blocks of your programme
Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.
History Beyond the University
This module looks beyond the university and examines the roles of history and historians more broadly. In this module we will bring in expertise from across the academic, museum and heritage sectors and explore how history shapes the world in which we live in seen and unseen ways. The use of the past is everywhere – from how your food and drink is branded, to video game characters to the creation of our national identities. Writers and filmmakers use versions of the past to sell their stories, governments use it to create national narratives, businesses use it to sell their products. Museums, galleries and heritage sites and text books are often regarded as impartial but there is no such thing as a neutral history. The module will also explore how and why certain stories aren’t told (or haven’t always been told) and we will look at how the past has been forgotten, misremembered and reclaimed.
The module discusses how, through various mediums of interpretation and presentation, a range of organisations and individuals including museums, archives, government agencies, historians and the media make history available to a wide audience. It explores how societies use history and provides an understanding of the ways in which historians can take their skills and apply them outside the university.
History Beyond the University will examine the 'public' dimensions of history - how has the past been represented, remembered and used. We will look at how the past has been forgotten, misremembered and reclaimed. We will consider how historical knowledge can illuminated the past while shaping the present.
Research Methods: Philosophies, Theories and Approaches to History
Explore Masters level research methods to enable you to make the most of your participation in the MA.
This module enables you to:
- engage in independent and critical thinking and apply theoretical concepts in the field of Modern History
- identify, assess and critically evaluate relevant research resources
- present and defend research findings in an appropriate and scholarly manner
You will meet with your supervisor to discuss the dimensions of the project, identify and address key scholarship in the field, develop an appropriate methodology, and establish an agreed framework for progress.
Forging the People’s War: Film and Cinema in Britain during the Second World War
This module is designed to examine films produced in Britain, for British audiences, between 1939 and 1945. By focussing on a range of films, an understanding of the British government’s propaganda policy during the Second World War will be developed alongside a detailed knowledge of the processes, functions, execution and themes of propaganda. At the core of the module will be a critical approach to film as a source and a structured reading of the films. This will draw on, and be related to, the key schools of thought regarding the nature of film on the British home front. By applying each of these frames to the films to be considered, debate and discussion will be opened up to establish the drivers and influence on national culture. Whilst this module will reflect on the history of propaganda in general through this time, it will also speak to the nature of popular engagement with the war, and the effectiveness of these initiatives as related through popular responses to these films.
Liverpool and Slavery
This module will explore Liverpool’s history through its involvement in the Atlantic slave economy. Liverpool’s involvement in the transportation of enslaved people to the Americas and the trade in goods produced by enslaved people transformed the city from a minor port, to the centre of the Atlantic World. In this module you will have the opportunity to research the legacies of slavery through the links that LJMU had to the slave economy. Through a self-generated research project you will discover the extent that slavery reached into the heart of institutions, and transformed the way that institutions function today. Through links to merchants, businesses that traded in goods produced by enslaved people, and even abolitionists, you will discover that even LJMU has extensive links that are not too difficult to unearth.
Post-War France: Modernity and Crisis, 1944-1981
With the ending of the Second World War, France was liberated from the immediate traumas of defeat and occupation. But with victory in 1945, the country was confronted with a new set of challenges. With much of its national infrastructure in ruins, many towns and cities ravaged, and an economy suffering from years of exploitation by the Germans, the task of reconstruction was immense. The physical damage of war was not all, however. After more than four years of occupation, and the social tensions and divisions wrought by this experience, it was not just the economy but equally the political body, indeed the nation as a whole, which required renewal. In the years immediately following the liberation, French political elites grappled with the challenges of reconstructing France. Looking back from the perspective of the 1980s, French commentators and academics heralded the success of these efforts. Noting how the liberation had inaugurated a new era of unprecedented economic growth and consumer wealth, undergirded by a robust welfare state, which lasted until the global economic crisis which followed in the wake of the ‘oil shock’ of the mid-1970s, historians adopted the label of the ‘thirty glorious years’ to refer to this period in post-war French history. These years witnessed profound transformations in French politics and society which many experienced as a liberating force, yet they also led to growing levels of social marginalisation, poverty and alienation. What is more, through these years of ever-growing prosperity for many of its citizens, France fought and lost two brutal colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria, marking the end of the country’s status as a major colonial empire.
Going Global: Activists, Movements and the Making of Modern Internationalism, 1830s-1930s
In this module, you will explore the rise of internationalism as a political idea in the ‘long’ nineteenth century and how it influenced political movements. This will not be limited to the history of the idea alone but will also include the fascinating biographies of activists, the international networks of political movements and the establishment of international organisations, such as the League of Nations. You will engage with a relatively new and burgeoning field of historical research that combines international and local histories and uses different theoretical approaches. It will challenge some of the established assumptions about modern history and its dominant national frameworks. The module will be delivered as a series of workshops, which will combine short lectures with group work and student-led presentations.
An insight into teaching on your course
Within the History department you will work alongside other postgraduate students and academics. In addition, external experts from a range of museum and heritage fields will explore how history is used by museums, heritage centres, charities, political parties among others. We are both committed scholars and dedicated teachers and are proud of fostering a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment for all our students.
Over the course of this MA, students will master skills of research, analysis, argument and writing. The course reflects the team’s varied and wide-ranging interests, notably focussed on the modern era from the nineteenth-century to more contemporary times facilitating a range of study, often in new and innovative fields. Our modules cross national borders and historical approaches, encountering a rich array of primary source materials from newspapers and magazines, film, the ephemeral, through to statistics and propaganda.
How learning is monitored on your programme
To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme.
There will be a variety of assessments spread across modules, including in-class presentations, posters, critical reflections and portfolios. The most common piece of assessment will be the extended essay, allowing you to develop advanced techniques of reading, research, writing and presentation.
The course concludes with your completion of a major piece of coursework: a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.
Dr Gillian O'Brien
Dr Gillian O'Brien
Dr Gillian O'Brien is Reader in Modern Irish History. She is the author of "Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago" (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and has also published work on the Anglo-Irish relations, newspaper and journalism history, the history of Dublin and the history of Primary Education in Ireland. Her BA and MA are from University College Dublin and her PhD from the University of Liverpool.
Our programme offers you the opportunity to pursue your own path of studies, with option modules providing you with the opportunity to develop a specialist interest in either British or International history.
What you can expect from your School
Based within the John Foster Building on the Mount Pleasant Campus the School of Humanities and Social Science has many outstanding facilities, including well-equipped IT Suites, a light-filled Student Common Room and dedicated postgraduate study areas. At the back of the John Foster Building is the Aldham Robarts Library, which gives access to an exceptional range of materials to support the study of humanities and social science.
Order your brochure Research
You will need:
- a minimum 2:1 honours degree in History, or a related subject. If a dissertation or extended essay forms part of the degree programme you must have achieved 65% or above in that component. Appropriate indicators may include: one reference and academic transcripts or their equivalent
- All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications
- Samples of written work and/or an interview may also be requested
IELTS score of 6.5, with a score of 7 in written work
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the programme.
Applications are welcomed from highly motivated, non-standard entry students with relevant experience, but without the necessary formal qualifications. Prospective applicants are advised to contact the Programme Leader for further information.
The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.