MA Early Modern History

Full Time
Degree of Master of Arts

Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)

Key facts

(Times Higher Education REF 2014 Subject Rankings)

This course offers an original and in-depth examination of power, ideology, culture and social change between 1500 and 1750. You will gain all the skills needed by an early modern historian, including palaeography (reading 16th- and 17th-century handwriting), using manuscripts and other primary sources, conceptualising research topics, and writing up the results (following correct referencing and bibliographical conventions). You will also be given guidance on how to present your research findings orally.

You will study with some of the finest teaching staff in the country, in one of the highest concentrations of history expertise outside Oxford, Cambridge and London. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 99% of our research was found to be internationally recognised. Our modules are directly related to our lecturers’ research, which means you benefit from insight into the latest historical issues and debates.

This course is also available on a part-time basis.


On the MA Early Modern History you will study power, ideology and socio-cultural change in the period 1500 to 1750. Each week, in your team-taught core seminar, you will examine the latest debates and discoveries in the field of early modern history, spanning Britain, continental Europe and the Atlantic world. You will examine oral and print culture, social relations and rural custom and memory; and authenticity and fakery in primary sources.

You will also have the opportunity to pursue the precise specialism that interests you most through our specialist tutorial scheme. You will also be expertly trained in the key skills and methods of historical enquiry, such as working in an archive, writing and delivering conference papers, and the latest methodological approaches, preparing you for future historical work.

Course structure

At the core of this Master’s course is the seminar Society, Politics and Culture in the Early Modern World. Over two semesters, you will consider how historians’ approach to the study of early modern world has evolved. During the module, different members of staff will present an aspect of their own research and encourage discussion and debate. The seminars will encourage you to consider how the current state of the field relates to your own research by examining themes of social, intellectual and cultural history alongside the religious and the political.

You will be able to engage with the wide variety of sources available for the study of early modern history, as we introduce you to a broad range of primary material, including non-written evidence. Through the seminars you will develop your research skills, preparing you for the successful planning and writing of your own dissertation.

In the autumn semester you will also take the module English Palaeography. Covering handwriting of the 16th and 17th centuries, this is an essential component for any historian who intends to use early modern manuscripts. If you need to learn Latin paleography, you may, by arrangement, sit in on the medievalists’ class.

Throughout the year you will also be trained in the practice of being a professional historian in our Historical Research Skills seminars and workshops. These emphasise practical employability skills and professional development, and are facilitated by academics from the School of History who are specialists in a particular theoretical approach or research method. This will help you develop key transferable skills in identifying, using and interpreting different forms of data, and in the oral and written presentation of research. Topics include using state archives, biography as history, approaches to studying everyday lives, how to write conference papers, academic publishing, and writing grant and PhD applications. 

Your Specialist Tutorial module is an important way for you to specialise in an area of the subject. You will choose a topic from a wide array of options relating to the Early Modern period, so that you can develop clear postgraduate historical expertise. Over the year you will work closely in these tutorial sessions with an active researcher in that field, working with secondary and/or primary source material to gain a strong grounding in the major historiographical questions of the research area. Through this, you will gain the historiographical knowledge to produce new, original historical research. The range of tutorial options varies each year, reflecting the availability and expertise of our teaching staff, but topics may include: The Atlantic World; A History of Gender 1500–1900; A History of Emotion; The Political History of the Early Modern Period; Religion in the Early Modern Period; and Urban History. 

The culmination of our programme is the dissertation: with guidance and support, you will pursue an independent piece of historical research of your own devising. This is undertaken mainly in the second half of the MA and you will be supervised by one or more members of the School. 

Please email Professor Malcolm Gaskill ( if you have any questions about the course.

Skills and experience

Norwich is the most complete medieval city in Britain. It’s a fine historic centre with buildings spanning more than a thousand years of English history. The Norfolk Record Office houses one of the richest collections of documents for medieval and early modern history, as well as contemporary records. You will be able to take advantage of this wealth of historical sources throughout your studies.

As part of our School of History, you will be working within a vibrant postgraduate community. We specialise in the political, social and cultural history of Britain and Europe from the Middle Ages to the present and have a strong record of securing research funds from the AHRC, Wellcome Trust, English Heritage, Leverhulme, Norwich HEART and others.

As a postgraduate student at UEA, you will also benefit from our numerous guest lectures and postgraduate training seminars, and have the chance to develop your professional skills through sessions organised by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Graduate School. You will also have access to the East Anglian Film Archive, a major research resource boasting 12,000 hours of film and nearly 30,000 hours of videotape. Our library houses nearly 90,000 history monographs, 250 specialist journals and a wealth of specialist research collections in British, European and American history.


You will be assessed on coursework essays, as well as on research training, specialised skills and the dissertation. The module Society, Politics and Culture in Early Modern World comprises 50 credits, English Palaeography 10 credits, Historical Research Skills 20 credits, and the Specialist Tutorials 20 credits. Your dissertation will be 14,000–16,000 words long and comprises 80 credits.

Course tutors and research interests

We were ranked 3rd in the UK for the research intensity of our History courses in the Times Higher Education REF 2014 assessment. Our research strengths include British and European medieval history; the Early Modern history of Britain, Europe and the Atlantic World; the modern and contemporary history of Europe (in particular France, Italy and Germany); modern British, imperial and international history; modern Russian and Eastern European history; landscape and environmental history; and local and regional history.

Where next?

You will graduate ready to pursue a wide range of occupations, thanks to the breadth of the skill base you will have had the opportunity to acquire during your Master’s. Many of our graduates go on to pursue academic careers; others have developed careers in business, public service, teaching and management. You will be offered a variety of workshops and sessions focused on career development.

This course is also available on a full time basis.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 180 credits:

Name Code Credits


Essential for all historians and archaeologists who wish to be able to read the 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 specialisms of specific teaching staff involved. 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

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject History or a related subject
  • Degree Classification UK BA (Hons) 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 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 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

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550
  • International Students: £15,800

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).

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.

You can apply online.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

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

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