Taught course

Early Modern History

University of Birmingham · Department of History

Entry requirements

A 2:1 in a related subject.

Months of entry


Course content

This programme combines the approaches of religious, social, cultural and political historians to take a fresh look at early modern history. It is taught by leading scholars whose expertise covers the cultural and religious landscape of the late-medieval world, the Catholic and Protestant Reformations, new world discoveries and the political and cultural worlds of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England and Europe. This gives you a rich variety of options, and a wide range of possibilities for your dissertation topic. The programme also offers comprehensive research training opportunities, providing the ideal grounding for going on to undertake a PhD in this area.

This programme is run out of the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies, one of the most dynamic concentrations of early modern historians in the country. We have more than half a dozen full-time academic staff with expertise in the period c.1500-1800 in History alone, with geographical coverage including local (West Midlands) history, Germany, Italy, and the wider world. CREMS also has excellent links with staff in English, the Shakespeare Institute, History of Art, and elsewhere.

This MA is designed to give you a firm grounding in current themes and debates in early modern history, with a focus on the religious and cultural history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain and Europe. A wide range of options allow you to specialise in an area of your choice, and comprehensive training opportunities will help to prepare you to embark upon a significant research project. In recent years, scholars have moved beyond a traditional, narrow concern with elite religion and high politics to explore the cultural, material and social histories of the early modern period, including the Renaissance and the Reformation.

The whole subject has becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, with researchers drawing on the insights of anthropology, sociology, cultural and literary studies, art history, and musicology, as well as history. Topics such as violence, clothing, gender, exploration, art, drama, music and material culture have come to be seen as crucial to an understanding of the transformations that were taking place. These new approaches are integral to the teaching and research training provided on this course. There is also an annual field trip, designed to explore key themes and issues outside of the classroom, in the context of key buildings, documents and historical artefacts.

You will study two core modules (full descriptions available below):

  • Religious Reformations in Early Modern Britain and Europe
  • Research Methods and Skills

You will also choose an optional special subject module and complete a 15,000-word dissertation on an agreed topic which relates to the history of any of the areas covered by the course.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days. Register to attend at: www.birmingham.ac.uk/pgopendays

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit: www.pg.bham.ac.uk

Information for international students

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country. English language requirements: Either, by holding an English language qualification to the right level Or, by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students

Fees and funding

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Postgraduate enquiry service
0121 414 5005