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MA Public History

Analyse the changing ways in which we engage with the past

Year of entry: 2022 (September)

Length

1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2022 (term dates)

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Public history brings history to life. Our interdisciplinary degree enables you to gain hands-on experience in the heritage sector alongside cutting edge academic training.

You'll study the variety of perspectives on the relationship between the past and the public and evaluate their impact on the modern day heritage sector. You'll analyse how public engagement with the past has evolved with new types of media. Finally, you'll explore the role of museums and other heritage institutions in our society and their impact on our identity throughout history.

This MA is offered through History in conjunction with the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (IPUP).

I've thoroughly enjoyed studying the MA in Public History. A rigorous exploration of theory has been well-balanced with practical work experience and I have loved the opportunity to develop my wider academic interests through the option module too. I'm so excited to be working with the same staff over the next few years to develop my dissertation topic into a PhD!
Esther, MA Public History student

Leading research

In the Times Higher Education's ranking of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, our Department of History was second overall for research performance.

Skills training

Our skills modules are unique to our courses, and will give you practical knowledge of professional research methods.

Course content

The course consists of:

  • core modules
  • option module
  • a research training module
  • 20,000 word dissertation
  • a public history placement module

You can opt to study skills training modules instead of the placement.

Modules

Core modules

Placement

  • Public History placement : a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience working in the field and will help put what you've learned into practice. It takes place during the Spring Term. You can choose to work with a museum, archive, production company, historic house, or anything involving communicating the past to the public. This practical experience will help you to think critically and evaluate and contribute to public history projects.

Option modules:

You'll choose from a range of taught option modules:

Skills modules

You can choose to study skills modules which will provide you with invaluable skills training across a range of fields. This will be instead of a placement.

Recent modules offered include:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

Dissertation

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 first term, supported by the Research Training module. You'll compete your dissertation over the spring and summer.

You will be under the supervision of a member of staff in the Department of History, 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, both chronologically and geographically.

Past titles include:

  • The Construction of a Pan-European Identity within Heritage: The House of European History and the Parlamentarium Examined
  • The Favourite: Setting a precedent and challenging preconceptions?
  • Troubles with a small 't': Derry Girls and new representations of the Northern Irish Conflict
  • A Critical Analysis of the Collections Process in Rapid Response Collections Within GLAM
  • A gendered analysis of the masculinity and femininity in cinematic representations of the leading ladies of British folklore
  • A Comparative Study of Representations of Hitler, the Nazis and the Repressed in Satire films from America and Germany
  • Digital role-playing games and the post-apocalyptic future. How Fallout 4 engages in discourses about American History
  • Keeping Medieval England Alive: An analysis of Living History and Reenactment video advertisements preserved on YouTube
  • The portrayal of 'difficult histories' through film: accuracy, audience, and responsibility
  • Reimagining the nation; transforming the city - identity, place and the performance of the past at the London 2012 Olympics and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
  • The Struggles of GCSE History: How the state of the curriculum and examination style has created a disenchantment among teachers and students alike, and what change is needed to stem the tide

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Deploy an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of cutting edge scholarship to interpret and account for the many ways in which the public engages with the past, understands the past and generates new histories of the past.
  • Construct innovative research questions and defend robust arguments.
  • Employ advanced research skills, including how to locate supporting evidence and data using manual and digital techniques, and match and manipulate raw materials using carefully chosen and clearly articulated methodologies drawn where appropriate from other disciplines to advance historical scholarship.
  • Undertake interdisciplinary research, demonstrating a high capacity for independent thought and action, take responsibility in challenging situations, and make decisions in the face of complexity and uncertainty.
  • Communicate research findings imaginatively, lucidly and succinctly using a variety of media forms including short reports, oral presentations and extended pieces of writing.
  • Understand the ethical and practical issues that arise during advanced historical research, particularly those that involve the presentation of difficult and traumatic histories or working with a wider public either as an intended audience or as participants in surveys and projects.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,290£19,950
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£4,645£9,975

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

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.

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2022/23 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

University of the Year shortlisted

“York is everything an outstanding university should be”

Find out how we made the shortlist for University of the Year in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Our University of the Year nomination

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.

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.

About our campus

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, including within the heritage sector.

Career opportunities

  • Archivist
  • Visitor experience host
  • Curator
  • Archivist and records manager
  • Museum interpretation developer
  • Outreach historian

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

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in History or a related discipline.
Other qualifications and experience We would consider a 2:2 but our decision would depend on the whole application including the quality of the written work submitted.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 176 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 110 in all other components
LanguageCert C1 Expert High Pass with 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all component

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.

Applying

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

Dr Victoria Hoyle

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Department of History

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