Accessibility statement

New MA in Public History

Posted on 19 April 2011

The Department welcomes applications for a new MA in Public History to begin study in October 2012. Professor Helen Weinstein, director of the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past will convene the programme. Aimed at recent graduates and experienced practitioners, the programme will prepare students for careers in this field as well as further research into public history.

Public History is a vibrant and exciting new field of research in history which looks at the way in which public understands and consumes the past. It encompasses the presentation of the past in museums and the heritage sector and in the media, and how the public itself engages with the past and is transformed by it. The new MA offered by the Department of History will cover the breadth of this new research area with modules on both the theoretical developments in the field and current academic debates and classes centred on actual practice in the heritage sector, and a compulsory placement providing hands on experience.

The MA is designed to be wide-ranging with modules and topics covering the media, museums and other heritage institutions, digital media and the impact of historians on public policy. The MA will be informed by both the research interests of staff members in Public History and the wealth of experience in the Department whose staff have been involved in numerous projects, including the production of BBC radio programmes, the major exhibition, , and the 2008 film, The Duchess. The Department’s Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past runs numerous projects and seminars in all areas of public history.

Students will be required in the Spring Term to undertake a work placement as part of their MA programme. The placement will be an integral part of the MA, and students will be to reflect critically practice in the field and its interaction with academic debate. The placements offer unique opportunities for career development and for the formulation of research projects which can be pursued in the MA dissertation or ultimately as doctoral research. We have partnerships with a number of leading institutions in these fields where placements can be held. These include:

  • English Heritage
  • National Railway Museum
  • York Minster
  • National Trust
  • The National Museums for Science and Industry
  • Jorvik Centre
  • BBC Radio York
  • The Borthwick Institute
  • Fairfax House, York

This builds upon relationships developed by the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past. Since 2009 numerous students have participated in our graduate internship programme which enabled them to gain experience of working in the media and heritage sector. For some this was the start of a career in the field.