Skip to content
Home>Study at York>Postgraduate taught>Courses>Contemporary History and International Politics (MA)

MA Contemporary History and International Politics

Address the key political and social challenges facing the world today

2018/19 entry


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

Virtual Open Days

Chat with staff and students to find out more about postgraduate study at York.

Register now

The world needs better politics: better ways of distributing resources and resolving conflicts.

How can we do this when our engagement with politics is most often local and national? The politics of the future is haunted by those of the past. In order to imagine and move towards building a new future, an understanding of history must underpin national and international politics.

This interdisciplinary MA seeks to address these problems by bringing together politics and contemporary history, with a particular focus on transnational ideas and institutions.

You'll benefit from a wide range of expertise across two outstanding departments, as well as access to numerous centres and institutes, including:


World-leading research

Staff in the History department are engaged in world-leading research in international and transnational history, with particular expertise in the history of the British Empire, American History, and History and Policy.

Spanning borders

In Politics, staff members have produced world-class research in international political economy, international political theory, the politics of development, comparative European politics, international security, Indian politics, African politics, and global governance.

Course content

The course consists of:

  • a core module (20 credits)
  • two taught option modules (20 credits each)
  • a research training module (10 credits)
  • 20,000 word dissertation (90 credits)

In addition to this, you will complete one of the following:

  • two skills training modules (10 credits each) or
  • a placement (20 credits) or

In the Autumn Term, you'll complete the core module and one option module.

The research training module runs over the Autumn and Spring Term.

In the Spring Term, you'll complete one further option module and either two skills training modules or a placement.


Core modules

The Making of the Contemporary World: History, Politics and Ideas since 1945 (20 credits) will allow you to explore how political ideas are formed, how they transfer across territorial boundaries and how they are adapted for use in new settings. You'll assess a range of primary and secondary sources and develop your skills of analysis to evaluate the emergence, evolution and effects of transnational forms of politics.

Research Training (10 credits) will prepare you for your dissertation. It provides you with essential training in graduate-level research skills: selecting research topics, large-scale project management, locating secondary and primary materials, storing and ordering findings and presentation techniques.

Option Modules

You'll choose two taught modules.

We offer the following option modules focussing on contemporary history:


You will also be able to choose from other option modules in the department:


Please note that these option modules are provisional and may be subject to change.

Skills modules

You'll also complete two modules which will provide you with invaluable skills training across a range of fields. You can elect to do a placement instead of the two skills modules.

Part-time students normally take the skills modules during their first year, but they can arrange to take these in the second year if required. 

Examples of skills modules include:

  • Technics of Print, 1500-1800
  • Oral History Methods
  • Things in History: Researching Material Culture
  • Mapping the Past
  • Lies, Darn Lies, and Statistics - for Historians
  • Early Modern Palaeography

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


During the Summer Term and the summer vacation, you will write a research dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a topic of your choice. You'll start planning for your dissertation in the Autumn Term, supported by the Research Training module.

You will be under the supervision of a member of staff in either the Department of History or the Department of Politics, who will provide you with specialist advice and guidance. Our range of expertise and wealth of source material means we can provide supervision on a wide range of topics. Past dissertation titles have included:

  • Thomas Sankara and the making of his African Society 1949/1987
  • The Cornerstone of a Community: Black Maritime Workers in Baltimore 1820-1884
  • The reform of the United Nations Security Council
  • "At peace: the gentle men of Gallipoli". Exploring Australia's Anzac legend in the final years of the Dardanelles veterans (1990-1995).
  • Unequal Treaties: International Trade Agreements and Underdevelopment in Latin America, 1994-2015


Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee
Full-time (1 year)£7,580£16,780

Additional costs

There is no obligation to purchase books or other texts - all core texts and resources will be available in our library or online.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

Most of your modules will consist of weekly two-hour seminars. The Research Training module will be taught through three-hour workshops. You will normally work in small groups of fewer than 20 students.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of History in Vanbrugh College on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in or close to Vanbrugh College.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be primarily assessed by essays and your dissertation. You will have the chance to submit assignments for formative assessment, enabling you to get and use feedback before the final summative assessment. 

Careers and skills

While completing your MA, you will gain essential skills in research, presentation and analysis. These skills are invaluable for progressing to a PhD and for a diverse range of careers.

Career opportunities

Our graduates have gone on to careers within the following sectors:

  • Civil Service
  • Political think tanks
  • Journalism
  • Law 
  • Advertising
  • Research

Transferable skills

  • Analytical thinking
  • Formation of original arguments
  • Effective time management
  • Communication skills
  • Efficient organisation, use and management of electronic research resources
  • Ability to carry out independent research in primary sources
  • Professional presentation skills

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade

We typically ask for a 2:1 degree in History or a related discipline.

If you are an international student please check the minimum requirements for your country or region..

If you are unsure about your eligibility, or want to enquire informally about whether this course would be suitable for you, please contact us.

English language

  • IELTS: 7.0, with no less than 5.5 in each component
  • PTE: 67, with no less than 51 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 185, with no less than 162 in each component
  • TOEFL: 96, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Distinction in all component


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Sam Wetherell

Learn more

Department of History, Department of Politics

Discover York


We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Student life

Explore campus and city life and hear what our current students have to say about living here.

The city

Lively, full of culture and beautiful, York is regularly voted one of the best places to live and visit in the UK.