MA in Early Modern History

Course Convenor: Natasha Glaisyer

The MA is a distinctive programme designed for applicants whose interests lie in the study of early modern history, and who feel that they have much more to discover. The course provides both a thorough research training and an opportunity to explore new approaches to the history of early modern Britain, Europe and their overseas empires. Students are introduced to a wide range of sources and approaches drawn from the entire span of the early modern period, and thereby gain an unusual breadth of vision which transcends more conventional boundaries, not only between British and European history but also between Europe and the differing cultures encountered on Europe's frontiers and overseas.


The MA is run by the Department of History and students are encouraged to participate in the lively scholarly community of the department's active graduate school through attendance at relevant MA seminars, research training sessions and the weekly departmental research seminar. Students also have full access to the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies which provides an active programme of academic seminars, small conferences and reading groups involving both the academic staff and graduate students.

Programme of study

The programme consists of four taught modules (20 credits each), a 20,000 word dissertation (90 credits), and a Research Training module (10 credits). These make up the 180 credits that are normal for an MA in the UK higher education system. For students registered for full-time study, the programme is as follows:

Autumn Term (October-December)

Autumn Term summary:

All students take the core module Approaches to Early Modern History. The module, taught by weekly seminar, introduces students to the key concepts, methods and practices which contribute to the diversity of early modern history; and to the study of particular topics, such as new approaches to the Reformation, early modern globalisation, women in early modern Europe, and the scientific revolution. Additionally, all students take an Option Module chosen from a list approved by the Course Convenor or the Core Module of the interdisciplinary MA in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, which counts as an Option Module for Early Modern MA students. All students follow a research training module across both terms.

Spring Term (January-March)

Spring Term summary:

  • Option Module 2
  • Option Module 3
  • Research Training (independent writing of dissertation proposal)

Students choose two optional modules which should include at least one related to their pathway. With the approval of the Course Convenor and the Module Tutor they may also choose a module from other MA programmes (e.g. English or History of Art).

Summer Term and Summer Vacation (April-September)

Summer Term summary:

During the Summer Term and over the Vacation, all students will write a research dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a subject of their own choosing and under the supervision of a member of staff, and submitted at the end of the academic year.

Students receive advice about research topics and instruction in bibliography, plus additional specialist advice and guidance from a supervisor. Because of the range of expertise of staff members and the wealth of source material available in York, it is possible to provide supervision on a wide range of topics, both chronologically and geographically.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

Core course

Optional modules

The precise modules offered for this MA vary from year to year. Modules offered in recent years include:

Research skills training

The Research Training module provides essential training in graduate-level research skills: large-scale project management; locating secondary and primary materials; storing and ordering findings; and presentation techniques.

Research Dissertation

The 20,000-word dissertation is typically based on extensive research using primary sources. Planning for this large-scale project begins in the Autumn Term and continues during the Spring Term, supported by the Research Training module. Substantive research is normally undertaken in the Summer Term, and findings are written up from July to September. A supervisor supports the research and writing of the dissertation.

Programme specifications

For a concise description of the programme structure, aims and learning outcomes for this MA, view the programme specifications.

Come and visit us on campus for a taster of some of our taught Masters degrees. Arts and Humanities, 14 March 1-5pm