Taught course

History, Power and Identity

University of Essex · School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies

Entry requirements

We will consider all applicants with 2:2 or above, or equivalent international qualifications. For some courses, there may be additional requirements which can be found on our website.

Months of entry


Course content

What does it mean to be powerful or powerless? Across different times and places, how have people and groups used or abused power, and how have they gained or lost it? In a world threatened by the rise of far-right groups, invigorated by mass protests such as Black Lives Matter or #MeToo, and rocked by political, economic, and cultural crisis, this MA traces the historical roots of some of today’s most urgent fights for power.

We look at the ways and means by which power has operated in the past to consider who has power, why it might be shared, and how it is resisted. We examine different sites of power, from bodies to institutions, and its multiple workings, from slavery and torture to consumer decisions and food sustainability. The struggle for power can be reflected in racism, sexism, and homophobia – attacks on people’s identities to reinforce the dominance of one group or ideology. Yet those identities are also sources of pleasure, celebration, and resistance, whether through conflict or cooperation. Power can also be shared within communities, whether to bolster the dominant group or to provide more social equity.

This MA explores urgent questions about how systems of power shaped, and continue to shape, people’s lives, opportunities, and identities, including: What is power, and how have these meanings changed over time? When and why do people cooperate with power or resist it? What are the sites of power and its contestation? How has power and conflict shaped the experiences of race, gender, class and sexuality in diverse past cultures? Can we fundamentally reimagine the ways that power might be shared more equitably within society?

In our Department of History you are taught by award-winning academics from all over the world: our corridors are truly cosmopolitan. We also provide you with opportunities to explore local history and have close ties with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK.

Information for international students

Entry requirements

You can find international entry requirements for most countries on our webpage www.essex.ac.uk/international. If your country is not listed, please contact Postgraduate Admissions at pgadmit@essex.ac.uk.

Pre-sessional English Language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before joining your main degree course, we offer pre-sessional English courses on our campuses in partnership with Kaplan International Pathways. To learn more, please visit www.essex.ac.uk/international/pre-sessional


You can explore scholarship opportunities for your country at www.essex.ac.uk/international or view our university-wide scholarships at www.essex.ac.uk/scholarships.

Fees and funding

There are a wide range of funding options for postgraduate study, including scholarships, bursaries and alumni discounts. You can check your eligibility at https://www.essex.ac.uk/postgraduate/masters/fees-and-funding.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

PG Admissions