Research course

Early Modern History

University of Cambridge · Faculty of History

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold at least a high upper second-class degree from a UK university or international equivalent.

Months of entry


Course content

The MPhil provides intensive training in studying the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world between c.1500 and c.1800. It equips students to write a substantial and significant piece of historical research. This stretching course is designed for those who have taken undergraduate degrees and who now wish to consolidate their knowledge of the early modern period. By examining traditional and innovative methods and interpretations, the course aims to enhance understanding of how early modern history has been conceived and practised.

The course combines taught and research elements over a nine-month full-time programme. The taught element comprises a core course, taken by all students; specialist courses on themes within the period, from which students choose; and various training courses, covering languages and palaeography. Students work towards their own long piece of independent research. The course culminates in the submission of this dissertation.

Throughout the course, students will be supervised by a dedicated member of staff. The supervisor will guide research into an original historical subject chosen and developed by the student. In addition, students will benefit from the stimulus of Cambridge’s bustling research culture. They will be encouraged to attend the several seminar series run on early modern history and also the many other relevant talks, workshops, and events that the Faculty and wider University offer.

The course is designed for those who (will) have completed undergraduate degrees in which history is either the sole or the main component. It is particularly appropriate for those who may wish to continue on to a PhD, whether at Cambridge or elsewhere. (The course is the normal means by which those without an appropriate master’s degree prepare for doctoral study in early modern history at Cambridge.) The course is also intended for those seeking to explore early modern history more deeply as a subject of research: it is a rewarding programme of study in its own right.

Cambridge early modernists hold positions in British and foreign universities and have pursued careers in many other fields (including business, education, government, media, and the law).

Learning Outcomes

Students study in depth key areas of research in early modern history. They have a supervisor who will guide them through the requirements of the course and, especially, advise them in the researching and writing of the dissertation.

In this manner, students are provided with the historiographical knowledge and analytical skills necessary to understand and evaluate existing research and to pursue research in their own fields of intellectual interest. Through individual supervisions and group classes, students are introduced to the more specialised and intensive nature of research required at a postgraduate level.

By the end of the course, students should have acquired:

  • a deeper understanding of their chosen area of early modern history and the critical debates within it;
  • a conceptual and technical understanding that enables the evaluation of current research and methodologies;
  • the technical skills necessary to pursue primary research in their chosen area; and
  • the ability to situate their own research within current and past methodological and interpretative developments in the field.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil
    full time
    9 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details