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Early Modern History MA



This MA enables students to undertake close study of the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world between c.1500-1800, highlighting themes of political, cultural, religious and social history. Students choose from a wide range of modules and take two compulsory core courses on practical skills and methodological approaches. Leads to further research or careers in museums, journalism, finance and the cultural sector.


Key benefits

  • One of the best history departments in the world, ranked 3rd in the Sunday Times 2013 rankings for History.
  • King's graduates enjoy one of the best employment rates and starting salaries in the UK. King’s is the Sunday Times ‘Best University for Graduate Employment 2012-3’.
  • A wide set of optional modules all taught by established experts in the field
  • A rigorous core course that trains students in historical research in archives, manuscripts, print and objects
  • Central London location and staff expertise offers students unrivalled access to world-class museums, collections, archives and libraries as well as easy access to resources in Europe.
  • Vibrant research culture of seminars, workshops and conferences in the department and at the Institute of Historical Research, in which students are encouraged to participate.
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Key information

Application status Open

Duration One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Credit value UK 180/ECTS 90

Course intake Variable.

Course leaders

Professor Laura Gowing

Course contact for further information

Postgraduate Admissions Team, Admissions Office tel: +44 (0) 20 7848 2569 fax: +44 (0) 20 7848 7200

Course contact email

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Department Department of History


Entry requirements & how to apply

Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.

Bachelor's degree with 2:1 honours (or overseas equivalent) in History or a related humanities or social science subject. Students without a history degree may be required to show relevant research skills in order to be accepted.


Application procedure

We interview all applicants, either in person or over the phone if they are normally resident overseas. You are required to submit an academic essay sample of 2000-4000 words as part of your application. We aim to process all complete applications within four to six weeks although this may take longer in February, March and over holiday periods.

Personal statement and supporting information

Please list the optional modules you are interested in as part of your personal statement.

Application closing date

The deadline for applications is 01 April 2016 for 2016 entry. Prior to this date all applications will be given equal consideration and considered on their individual merits. After this date applications will be considered subject to the availability of places, thus we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier.


Course detail


The early modern team at King's includes experts in the histories of the Reformation and the Enlightenment; gender; the material world of the Renaissance; race and racism, and on Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the Iberian world. Our research connects the political and the social, the cultural and the religious dimensions of the early modern world, and our programme encourages interdisciplinary perspectives on early modern history.

The MA programme bridges the conventional division between British and European history, focusing on ways in which cultural, political and social themes stretch across the period c.1500-1800. The course ends with a tightly focused dissertation, but it begins by encouraging students to test concepts (identity, mentality, religion); to challenge models of change (modernization, state-building, the civilising process, reformation, enlightenment and revolution); and to try out methodologies (cultural history, gender, thinking with material objects, global history, using digital data). Modules taught by experts in the field offer thematic perspectives on religion, society, politics and culture, examining primary sources of all kinds alongside the most recent historiographical interpretations of the field. Students' practical skills are developed by a module on advanced historical skills, including palaeography; Latin from beginner to advanced levels; and optional study of a European language. The flexibility of the programme means that students can extend their expertise by taking relevant modules from other departments in, for example, early modern English or French literature; the Iberian world; and Digital Humanities.

Teaching The MA in Early Modern History is taught in small seminars of generally between 8 and 20 students, largely through discussion and debate based on extensive reading. Students can also attend relevant undergraduate lecture series such as Power, Culture and Belief in Europe 1500-1800 and Early Modern Britain 1500-1750. Students on the 1 year full-time programme attend 6 hours of taught classes per week over the year, whilst students following the 2 year part-time MA typically attend 4 hours in one term and 2 hours in the other each year. The compulsory 15,000 word dissertation, completed over the summer, enables students to research a topic of their choice, working one-to-one with an academic supervisor.

Studying early modern history in London Studying in central London provides students with a wealth of opportunities and exceptional access to the sources and material artefacts of the early modern period, including relevant buildings, libraries, archives and exhibitions. Remnants of the early modern city survive in the narrow streets and fragments of the old City Wall in the City of London, the planned grandeur of Covent Garden, the eighteenth-century squares of Bloomsbury, the Huguenot quarter of Spitalfields, the oldest city churches and the newer ones built by Wren.

The archival resources in London are vast. The principal records of the City and Westminster are within easy reach at the London Metropolitan Archives. Ecclesiastical records are over the river at Lambeth Palace Library. Public records of the period are a short tube ride away at the National Archives in Kew. London is also the home of many other archival and manuscript resources for the early modern period. The British Library’s Manuscripts and Rare Books Collections are enhanced by, for example, the extensive collection of early printed books at the College’s own Maughan Library; the Wellcome Library for medical history, and many other smaller archives. Visual resources of the period are easily found at the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Courtauld Institute, Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Students on the MA have access to an excellent range of library resources. Our long-standing expertise in the early modern period means the College Library has an extensive collection of journals and books in this field. Students also use the British Library, Senate House Library (University of London) and the Institute of Historical Research. Access is provided to the most significant online collections of primary printed material, Early English Books Online and the Eighteenth Century Online and to JSTOR and other online resources for secondary material.

Graduate community London offers a strong graduate community, where students can follow up almost any interest. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the seminars at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), where there are ten regular seminars on the early modern period alone, many of them convened by members of the King’s History department.

Course purpose

The MA Early Modern History programme offers a rigorous introduction to the advanced study of early modern history, providing training in the historiographical and technical skills necessary for doctoral study, but is also designed for those who want to deepen their knowledge of the period.

Course format and assessment

Full-time study: 4-8 hours of taught classes per week plus dissertation tutorials.

Part-time study: 2-6 hours of taught classes per week plus dissertation tutorials.

The MA in Early Modern History modules are assessed by written coursework (and for one required module, a take-home exam). The 15,000 word dissertation enables students to research a topic of their choice, working one-to-one with an academic supervisor.


Career prospects

Leads to further research or careers in museums, education, journalism, finance, politics and the cultural sector.



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Fees and funding

Full time tuition fees - Home/EU

£9,000 p.a. (2016/17)*

Full time tuition fees - Overseas

£17,550 p.a. (2016/17)*

Part time tuition fees - Home/EU

£4,500 p.a. (2016/17)*

Part time tuition Fees - Overseas

£8,775 p.a. (2016/17)*

*This tuition fee is subject to annual increases.

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.

Peltz Scholarships

Two scholarships will be offered to the strongest candidates applying to take one of the Masters programmes offered by the History Department on a full-time basis, and without any other scholarship funding. These awards will be available on academic achievement and promise, and are available to UK, EU and overseas students. Each scholarship is worth £5,000. No additional application is necessary: all MA applications submitted by 1 June will be considered. Successful candidates will be notified as soon as possible after 15 June.

Bridget Clarke Bursary

One Bridget Clarke Bursary will be offered to the strongest full-time applicant to our MA in Early Modern History who is not in receipt of any other funding. This award will be available on academic achievement and promise, and is available to UK, EU and overseas students. The scholarship is worth £1,000. No application is necessary: all MA applications submitted by 1 June will be considered. Successful candidates will be notified as soon as possible after 15 June.



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