MA Early Modern History

Full Time
Degree of Master of Arts

Key facts

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), UEA was ranked third in the UK for research intensity in History (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis).

Key facts

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) 99% of UEA's research in History was rated as internationally recognised, including 77 per cent rated 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).

Don’t just study history: write it. Our Early Modern History Master’s degree will equip you with the tools you need to examine and interrogate primary and secondary sources, so that you graduate with the skill to develop refined and informed, original historic research.

Our Master’s programme focuses on early modern culture, politics, religion, and society between 1500 and 1750. Taught by our eminent historians, whose seminars will relate directly to their research, you’ll be learning at the very forefront of historical debate.

Our School has a vibrant postgraduate community, attracted here by our specialist academics and the output of our research. In fact, we have one of the UK’s highest concentrations of historic expertise, and in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) 99% of UEA’s research in History was rated as internationally recognised.


Focusing on Britain, continental Europe and the Atlantic world between 1500 and 1750, our Early Modern History MA covers a wide variety of topics including religion and politics, gender history, power and social relations, mentalities, orality and print culture, questions of authenticity and forgery, and material culture.

Our programme is characterised by its intensity, rigour, and creativity of study. Through it you’ll not only acquire a deeper and more advanced knowledge and understanding of early modern history, but you’ll also develop and improve your understanding of the problems and opportunities posed by primary sources and documents.

You’ll learn how to apply complex historical theories and concepts to test hypotheses against detailed examples and case studies. You will also acquire the ability to discriminate between conflicting interpretations and perspectives, and to discuss findings and communicate them in a clear manner, both in discussion and in your work. In our English Palaeography module you’ll even learn how to decipher handwriting of the past.

Through our taught modules and your own independent research, you’ll develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need to undertake advanced independent historical research, which you’ll demonstrate through your Master’s dissertation. So you’ll graduate ready to take your studies on to doctorate level, and with qualities that are in high demand in the workforce, including problem-solving, self-discipline and time-management, the ability to work with others, and excellent oral and written skills.

Course Structure

Our Master’s programme is divided into five key elements.

Society, Politics and Culture in the Early Modern World

Our core module will provide you with a thorough grounding in the ways to approach early modern history: historiographically, thematically, and methodologically. It will cover religious, political, social and cultural history, and also focus more closely on topics such as mentalities, social relations, gender, Atlantic history, and the forms and structures of daily life.

We’ll help you to identify and interpret primary sources, and to conceptualise related historical problems. And we’ll discuss the obstacles and opportunities of historical research, through a series of case studies drawn from the expertise of our early modern staff.

In this module we’ll also pay a great deal of attention to helping you to select a dissertation topic.

Historical Research Skills

This module will provide you with the tools essential to developing a refined piece of original historical research. Your seminars will investigate the theories, skills, methods and approaches used by scholars to interrogate a range of primary and secondary sources. So you’ll be equipped to undertake historical and professional work, such as working in an archive, and writing and delivering conference papers, using the latest methodologies.

English Paleography

Paleography is essential for all historians and archaeologists who wish to be able to read the handwriting of the period they are researching. This module is as demanding as it is rewarding and fun.

The Specialist Tutorial

Our tutorials will allow you to specialise in the area of early modern history that interests you most by choosing one topic from a wide array of annually-updated options. Recent examples include ‘The history of emotions’, ‘Religion and revolution in seventeenth-century Britain and Ireland’, and ‘Gender and religion in transnational perspective’.

MA dissertation

Your Master’s dissertation will provide you with an opportunity to pursue your own original, historical research. You will be supervised by one or several members of the School, who will provide guidance and support throughout the process.

We also encourage you to attend our early modern history research seminars, which bring in active historians in the field from around the UK, and to acquire or improve your foreign language proficiency through our Language Centre, to help you read and further interpret a greater range of primary sources and secondary literature.

Teaching and Learning

Our integrated approach means that your learning from each module will relate to and inform your other modules. Broad and thorough, this also makes for a more interesting and stimulating study experience.

In our core modules you’ll be taught the key themes and issues across periods and countries, usually based on selected case studies. Our skills-based modules will provide the theoretical and methodological tools key to the study of early modern history, as well as the conceptual knowledge you’ll need to complete the core module and your dissertation. And in our Specialist Tutorials we’ll encourage you to engage with historiographical debates and explanations in greater detail.

Our teaching will enhance your knowledge and awareness of different disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches. And by the end of the spring term, with our close supervision and advice, you will be in the position to embark on your extended, independent, original research project.

In addition to the teaching you’ll receive through the five key elements of our Master’s course, we regularly invite academics from outside UEA to present their latest research in seminars. Master’s students are expected to attend the talks, which are also fantastic opportunities for you to get to know and engage with professional historians.

Independent study

The very nature of a Master’s course means that you will spend a lot of time carrying out independent study. You’ll have access to UEA’s state of the art library, which houses a wealth of specialist research collections in British, European, and global history. You’ll also have access to the East Anglian Film Archive and the Norfolk Record Office. Moreover, you’ll be able to work with libraries and archives across the country, including the British Library and The National Archives, as well as similar resources overseas.

The balance we offer between independent thinking and study skills will help you grow into a self-motivated learner, an analytical thinker and an expert researcher. You will develop accuracy and precision in your written work through evidence-based analysis. And you will become well-versed in time management, making you highly organised and confident in self-directed study.

Throughout your degree you will be given guidance on your work and constructive feedback to help you improve.


Our modules include both formative and summative assessments, with feedback provided in various ways. This includes – but is not restricted to – written feedback, oral feedback in seminars and tutorials, and peer-to-peer feedback.

Each module will include a sequence of assessments, giving you the opportunity to learn from your formative feedback. The process will encourage you to reflect on your performance and to approach subsequent pieces of work with greater confidence, improving your performance in summative assessments.

Formative assessment includes presentations, essays and dissertation plans, research training and specialised skills. Summative work is assessed through coursework essays – including the options to submit book and exhibition reviews – and your dissertation.

After the course

You will graduate ready to pursue a wide range of occupations, thanks to the breadth of the skills you will have acquired during your postgraduate history degree. Many of our graduates go on to pursue academic careers. Others develop careers in business, public service, teaching and management, or the heritage and tourism sector.

We work closely with UEA Careers Service, offering a number of events, workshops, and information sessions to help get your career off to the best start.

Career destinations

  • Teaching and research
  • Civil Service and local government
  • Heritage and tourism
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Business and finance

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 180 credits:

Name Code Credits


All historians will find this module essential if they wish to be able to read handwriting of the period that they are researching. It can be demanding, but also enjoyable, leading to the mastery of a new skill.




Historical Research Skills focuses on the professional craft of the historian. Via a range of workshops and seminars, you will gain familiarity with various practical research methods as well as important aspects of research dissemination, such as academic conferences, publishing and professional networking. There will be sessions to help your transition process from undergraduate to postgraduate level, and we will pay particular attention to employability, with advice on professional pathways after the MA and PhD applications and funding. Seminars on approaches to archival research will be facilitated by members of the School of History who are specialists in particular historical methods. This module will be team-taught and the precise content of seminar topics may vary in any given academic year according to the availability of specific teaching staff. Topics covered may include: using church and government documents; material and visual cultures; the digital humanities; life narratives and collective memory; and transnational histories.




Specialist Tutorials give you the opportunity to choose one topic from a wide array of options, so that you can specialise in the area of history that interests you most. You will work closely in tutorial sessions with an expert in your chosen field. You will work with secondary and/or primary source material to gain a strong grounding in the major historiographical questions of the research area. This will give you the historiographical knowledge to contribute new, original work to the historical literature in the MA History Dissertation. The range of tutorial options will vary each year, reflecting the availability and expertise of academic staff.




Dissertation for students taking the MA in the School of History. 14,000 - 16,000 Words




This module provides a thorough grounding in approaches to early modern history - historiographically, thematically, and methodologically. We cover religious, political, social and cultural history, and also focus more closely on topics such as mentalities, social relations, gender, Atlantic history, and the rhythms and structures of daily life. A great deal of attention is paid to helping students to decide on a dissertation topic, to identify and interpret primary sources, and to conceptualize a historical problem. We also demonstrate some of the obstacles and opportunities of historical research through a series of case-studies drawn from the module tutors' own work, looking at various subjects, such as revolution, evangelism, colonization and urban history.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • Exploring Independence

    The full implications of Britain’s recent decision to exit the European Union are hard to predict. But the longer history of independence in Britain helps make sense of this historic event.

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  • How rupture with mainland Europe caused Britain to falter for hundreds of years

    From the fall of the Romans to the Middle Ages, Britain was more prosperous when it fostered a relationship with Europe. How rupture with mainland Europe caused Britain to falter for hundreds of years - Stephen Church

    Read it How rupture with mainland Europe caused Britain to falter for hundreds of years
  • Placeless people

    A new research network at UEA explores how the humanities can contribute to our shared understanding of refugee history and refugeedom today.

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    Your University questions, answered

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject History or a related subject
  • Degree Classification Bachelors (Hons) degree - 2.1 or equivalent
  • Special Entry Requirements Applicants must submit a sample of written work (in English). This should be a typed essay on a historical subject, 2-3,000 words long, preferably a photocopy of an assessment marked by a tutor, complete with critical comments and a percentage or grade. The essay should address a specific question, and must demonstrate an ability to construct a historical argument, familiarity with the conventions of academic writing, and competence in English. This should be uploaded to your online application.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the university directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,850 (full time)
  • International Students: £16,400 (full time)

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).


Living Expenses

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information relevant to the School of History, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515