Why should I study history at postgraduate level?

Postgraduate study is an opportunity to specialise on a specific period of history or on a particular theme such as economic and social history, international history, religious and cultural history, political history, naval and maritime or gender history.

If you wish to specialise and pursue research at PhD level then a taught or research Master’s in History is the first step.

Does it make sense to study history abroad?

It depends if the faculty of history at the university you are considering has particular areas of strength that reflect your specialist interests. If these interests are around historic events that have an international context or took place in a certain country, then of course it makes sense to consider what master’s courses are available in that country or region.

Reflecting the increasingly interconnected world, a number of universities have introduced broader Masters’ programmes in history where students explore international and global history. The study approach isn’t defined by national boundaries but instead surveys the historical forces and processes that have created the present-day world. Again, if you are interested in this broader, international perspective, then choosing to studying abroad could be advantageous.

Examples of postgraduate opportunities in history

The University of Groningen offers a Research Masters degree in Modern History and International Relations. This two-year programme teaches you to carry out independent academic research in the fields of modern history and international relations. You will explore recent developments in these fields and study relevant theoretical and methodological backgrounds. You will learn about subjects such as international political economy, the history of cultural identity and European cooperation and integration. 

An example of a taught Masters degree offered in English is History at Radboud Universityin Nijmegen. This is a good example of a degree where only certain modules or tracks are offered in English. In this case, only Roman history is taught in English.

An interdisciplinary approach to history is on offer at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Their MA in History of Society enables you to draw on insights from the social sciences, political theory and cultural analysis. As a result, you will learn to describe both the broad outlines and the unique and specific aspects of historical events.

In Denmark Aarhus University offers an MA in History with zero tuition fees. Only the track in International and Global History is available in English, however.

University of Kent’s Paris campus offer an MA in Modern History, an MA in History and Philosophy of Art, and an MA in 18th-Century Studies.

The University of London’s Institute in Paris offer an MA in Paris Studies: History and Culture, giving students the opportunity to explore key areas of the cultural and intellectual life of Paris.

Will my Master’s degree be recognised?

A postgraduate qualification in history obtained within the European Union and at good universities outside the EU will be recognised. However it is important to check the programmes offered by different universities and the teaching style (if a taught Master’s) to find the most suitable course to suit your specialist interests.

What grades do I need to get in?

A completed Bachelor’s degree in History or a BA / MA in related fields will be necessary. Interviews might form part of the application procedure.