International History MA

Our MA in International History invites you to immerse yourself in a dynamic, varied and challenging field of academic study, with the emphasis on the 20th and 21st centuries. Beyond the intrinsic interest of its subject matter, the programme presents a distinctive and flexible opportunity to develop a greater understanding of the processes shaping the contemporary world.

York St John University
Course fees
2019 - 20 Full-time Home & EU students: £5,000, International (non EU) students: £12,750 per annum
Full-time & Part-time options available
Start Date
September 2019
Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

Course overview

A masters degree in International History will equip you with knowledge and a skill set which will improve your ability to function within an increasingly interconnected world, and as such it is likely to improve your employability, particularly with respect to foreign-service, non-governmental organisation, and inter-governmental organisation careers, in a way that traditional history postgraduate qualifications will not. You will be taught by staff with a broad range of expertise and research interests in international history, in accordance with a philosophy that emphasises the development of students as practising historians. The programme includes access to a visiting speaker series given by notable historians on campus, and opportunities for you to contribute your own work to various forums, including an integrated MA International History seminar series.

Course structure

You will study for the MA in International History through a combination of taught modules, independent study, writing and research. Throughout the programme you will have the opportunity to emphasise your particular interests in international history through your choice of seminar and coursework assignments, and through the selection and development of an extended piece of independent research and critical writing on a topic of your choice. This will enable you to demonstrate the full range of attributes required of the professional historian short of the PhD.

While the writing-up of this project will take place at the end of your programme, you will begin the process of topic selection and preparation much earlier, and your research for the dissertation will take place in train with your other modules. Taken as a whole, the programme will enable you to better understand this seminal period in international history, offer you a window on the contemporary world, and foster the development of high-order generic transferable skills.

How will I study?

You will experience an integrated mix of contact teaching, supported open learning and independent study. In the classroom you will take part in small seminar discussion groups and one-to-one tutorials with your lecturers. You will prepare for these sessions by examining specified bodies of relevant material, much of which will be made available via a Virtual Learning Environment; this will provide you with a shared launching point for discussion in the seminars.

You can take our MA in International History as either a full-time or a part-time programme, whichever suits you best. The programme is designed to provide you with a continuity of learning and teaching whichever route you choose to take. If you choose the full-time programme, you take two modules per term, alongside the dissertation, over one academic year. If you prefer to study part-time then you will take one module per term, alongside the dissertation, over two academic years.


Modules include:

Main Currents in International History

This module introduces you to a range of approaches to the international history of the last hundred years or so. It will utilise, as its subject content, the broad sweep of international historical developments throughout the period. It will thus provide the methodological and subject-content underpinnings on which study in the other modules will be based. Its aim is to demonstrate different modes of analysis by which the International History of the 20th and 21st centuries might be apprehended. A variety of approaches are included ranging from traditional diplomatic history through to methods of cultural analysis, and which are not exclusively state-centred, but give appropriate emphasis to non-state actors and transnational processes. This module will also house the research skills element of the programme and initiate the process by which you will develop your dissertation projects.

Imperial Crisis

This module focuses on the phenomenon of imperialism as a device for understanding historical developments in the period approximately between 1900 and 1945. It explores the stresses and strains to which western imperialism was subject during this period, and how it adapted to these challenges. In doing so, the module considers the changes of circumstance and attitudes within the imperial metropolitan states. Moreover, it is mindful of the experience of imperial subjects as actors, assessing the emergence of various nationalist movements. The module necessarily involves an exploration of the development of Asian imperialism and its clash with the west. Finally, it explores the development of transnational alternatives to the established imperial order.

Decolonisation and the Post-Colonial World

This module explores the process of decolonisation and the post-colonial world from the perspective of the juxtaposition of promise and challenge. It interrogates the extent to which the international system has adapted to, and been shaped by, post-war developments relating to non-western states. This may include:

  • the emergence of the Third World and the non-aligned movement
  • the development of international and regional organisations
  • globalisation, economic development and poverty in the global south
  • humanitarianism, healthcare and the role of non-governmental organisations
  • the impact of population growth, migration and climate change
  • the widespread occurrence of civil political and religious conflict.

A series of in-depth case-studies will be used to examine these themes.

Peril and Progress: Security in the Post-1945 World

This module analyses the experience of a post-1945 world which faced unprecedented threats to international security and even human survival. At the same time advancing technology so reduced barriers to travel and communication that it became possible to speak of a ‘global village’. Thus, the risk of worldwide conventional and nuclear war was balanced by major efforts to define human rights and impose global standards of conduct on nations. The module explores the division of the world into antagonistic Cold War blocs and a third non-aligned grouping containing a mixture of states including newly decolonised nations. The dangers and opportunities of the cold war era are explored chronologically, as is the transition to the post-Cold War environment after the collapse of Soviet communism. The module concludes by addressing current and future challenges to international security, such as international terrorism and competition for dwindling resources. The module addresses key ongoing themes within its broader narrative: for example the problems posed for human well-being by the pace and extent of technological progress, and the development and strengthening of international structures of crisis management.

Research Dissertation

A final 15,000 word dissertation will allow you to slew your programmes towards your particular interests within the broad field of international history. You will develop a research proposal as part of the assessment for your first module Main Currents in International History. These proposals will be presented to a panel of staff and considered for suitability. In choosing a topic the negotiation process will refer to the programme content, your area of interest, staff expertise and the availability of research resources. You will conduct the project as an independent piece of research, with the guidance of a supervisor. Full-time students will undertake their dissertations during terms 2 and 3, while part-time students will do their dissertation over terms 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of their programmes. (60 credits)

All modules are worth 30 credits unless otherwise stated.

Teaching and Learning

On all of the taught modules on the MA International History students will be taught in small three-hour student-led workshops. Students will be required to read a number of essential readings as well as primary documents in preparation for each workshop. Moreover, selected students will be assigned tasks to prepare in advance of the workshops and then they will lead discussions on the topic under scrutiny. Time in each workshop will also be devoted to discussing student coursework and one-to-one tutorials will be offered to students. For the Research Dissertation students are assigned an expert supervisor with whom they will meet regularly during Terms 2 and 3.

Assessment and Feedback

Main Currents in International History

Historiographical Essay (2500 words): 50% of assessment

  • Oral Presentation: 25% of assessment
  • Written Proposal (2000 words): 25% of assessment


Imperial Crisis; Decolonisation and the Post-colonial World; Peril and Progress : Security in the Post-1945 World

  • Research Essay (5000 words): 100% of assessment


Research Dissertation

  • Research Dissertation (15000 words): 100% assessment


For all modules written feedback is provided on Moodle three weeks after the submission deadline. You are also invited to book tutorials with the Module Director.

Contact hours


Studied full-time the course will take place over 12 months.

Contact hours for full-time study are 6 hours per week (between Monday and Friday) over two terms.


Studied part-time the course will take place over 24 months

Contact hours for part-time study are 3 hours per week (between Monday and Friday) over four terms.

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

Entry requirements

UK/EU Students

Applicants will normally require a first degree at 2:2 or above. Candidates who do not have a first degree in History will be required to have an interview. Candidates who do not have a first degree in History will be required to have an interview.

International Students

International students will need to demonstrate that they have equivalent experience /qualifications as home students (ie the same entry criteria as above). If their first language is not English they must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

APEL Policy

Where applicants do not meet the stated entry requirements above, it may be possible to take into account evidence of APEL as an alternative method of meeting the programme’s entry requirements.  In such a case, appropriate references and records of employment might be presented to support the applicant’s case for admission.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £5,000 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For part-time options, see the Fees & Funding webpages for more information 

Postgraduate Loan: A Postgraduate Loan is available to help you pay for your Master’s course. Find out more about the postgraduate loan.

A 10% discount is applicable to all YSJU Alumni (subject to a minimum of 120 credits and achievement of a recognised award) undertaking PG level study (excludes PGCE).

Overseas 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, International Students on a Tier 4 visa must be studying full-time. For more information about Visa requirements and Short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration webpages.

International Fees & Funding

How to Apply

You can apply directly to the course via our Apply Now links. Please select the variant of the course that you intend to undertake (e.g. full-time or part-time) as the link will take you to a customised form for the specific course. You will need to create a login and password and complete the online form. Please contact two referees in advance of submitting your application as an automated request will go out as soon as you submit, and your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Applications for September 2018 entry must be submitted and completed by 5 October 2018.

Apply Now: Full-time

Apply Now: Part-time


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