The usual requirement is a second-class honours degree in a humanities subject, as well as references. We may request writing samples or ask you to attend an interview, if you don't meet the entry criteria but have non-traditional educational or professional qualification/experience.
Months of entry
History is practised everywhere: by governments, private corporations, universities, museums and galleries, in the tourism and heritage industries, on television programmes and in newspaper columns, and through local history societies, community development projects, and genealogical associations. History and historians play important roles at the level of the both the nation and the neighbourhood, contributing to public debates, policy decisions and popular education and entertainment.
Public history is concerned with the practice of history outside of academia in all its myriad forms and public historians come in all shapes and sizes: they are consultants, museum professionals, archivists, preservationists and curators, cultural resource managers, policy specialists, and community activists, among many other roles. What they share is a commitment to making history relevant, beneficial, informative and instructive within the public sphere.
The practice and significance of ‘public history’ has grown significantly in recent years, as historians become more aware of audiences beyond the academy, of the role of history in politics, of the need for their research and analysis to have an impact in the real world, and of the growing public and media interest in popular history and heritage.
This MA will introduce you to key aspects and issues of the practice of public history. It will provide you with the necessary theoretical and practical skills to undertake critical assessments of public history projects and interventions - as well as to create your own. Its focus on public history in practice will provide you with a wide range of examples of different types and methods of public history, from museums and material culture, to public history in the media, to the role of history in policy making. This MA aims to give you a sense of the wide range of public history, the variety of roles played by historians in public, and the importance and impact of public history in politics, culture, and society.
The compulsory modules will introduce you to the systematic study of historiography, the methodologies used in the analysis and interpretation of historical source material, and the contemporary practice of public history. You can explore the enormous breadth of research interests in the Department via the 2 option modules you choose, which are drawn across disciplines including archaeology, classics, the history of art and museology. Finally, the dissertation gives you the chance to pursue your own interests and undertake your own research and critical thinking under the supervision of a member of staff with relevant expertise.
The MA Public Histories provides relevant training for careers in media, education, museums and heritage, publishing, and policy, and it also provides rigorous training in the historical discipline suitable to prepare you for further personal or professional research, or research at MPhil/PhD level.
Information for international students
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.
Fees and funding
The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses – and you don't have to start repaying until 2019.
Named in memory of Birkbeck’s former President, and one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century, the Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship fund offers a full fee-waiver for Home, EU and Overseas Master’s students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology (part-time awards are pro-rata).
Qualification and course duration
Course contact details
- Department of History