Taught course

Global History

University of Birmingham · Department of History

Entry requirements

Usually a 2:1 (Hons) in History or a related subject, or the international equivalent.

Months of entry


Course content

The aim of this course is to put something very big under the microscope. By expanding the scale at which historians would normally operate, our Global History MA will present you with an opportunity to think with growing confidence and imagination about your world, its origins, its complexities and continuous transformations across a uniquely broad geographical and chronological scope. You will be taught the latest skills, concepts and approaches to the subject, and you will share in the imaginative challenges and intellectual vistas that this exciting new field of history is opening up. It is from this largest of historical perspectives that you will be invited to choose your own specialist research topic, culminating in a supervised 15,000-word dissertation.

You will study four core modules:

Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections

This module will be an introductory survey of global history. It will draw on considerable chronological depth and regional breadth in order to present you with a truly global perspective. Content will range from the decline and fall of ancient empires, such as Rome and China, through new medieval empires in Afro-Eurasia, early modern voyages of exploration to the age of revolutions which gave birth to new nations in the midst of global political ruptures.

Making Sense of the World: Themes in Global History

This module will be split into two parts: ‘Understanding the Past’ and ‘Past Understandings’. The former deals with key issues in global history, such as: the formation of the world’s geography at the macro-level of continents; periodisation and the issues of how to distinguish between historical periods on such a grand scale; the creation of border regions; and the importance of the environment in human history. The second section will explore different ways in which past peoples have understood the global world. This will examine the importance of religion, debates about the status of indigenous knowledge and finish with an in-depth look at a key text bringing together many of the themes of the course, Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land.

Historical Methods

This module introduces you to the major developments in historical approaches and to some of the major schools of, or tendencies in, historical research. The focus is on the application of the ideas to historical practice then and now.

Research Methods and Skills: Dissertation Preparation

This module covers what the dissertation project will entail. You will be expected to produce a short dissertation proposal for submission and you will be allocated a tutor who will supervise your dissertation preparation work. You will have one-to-one meetings with your supervisor, but you will also attend available generic sessions on skills run on the Research Skills module and available across the University.

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which includes:

  • Before Globalisation
  • Genocide: An Interdisciplinary Perspective
  • Hidden from History: Homosexuality through History
  • Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1800
  • Occupation and Counterinsurgency in the C20
  • Russian Political and Intellectual Thought
  • ‘Scum of the Earth’: Refugees and Statelessness in Comparative Perspective, 1914-45
  • Conquest, Colonisation and Identity: Eurasian Frontiers in Texts and Material Culture

Alternatively, you may wish to choose a double special subject module. The options available will typically include:

  • Activism, Affluence and Apathy: Citizenship, Politics and Democracy in Postwar Britain
  • Britain, the Slave Trade and Anti-Slavery
  • Holy Men, Holy War: the Cistercians and the Crusades
  • The Age of Discovery
  • The Mongols and China

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

Fees and funding

For more information, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Postgraduate Enquiry Service
0121 414 5005