Birkbeck, University of London

Course Introduction

This Master's degree in history explores early modern European societies in the period from the Renaissance to the Reformation and on to the Enlightenment and the outbreak of the French Revolution. One of its most exciting and distinguishing features is that it considers developments in Britain, continental Europe (notably France and Italy) and the wider world (particularly the Americas) in comparative perspective, which brings into question the idea of the distinctive nature of national histories.

Some of the key themes you will study are the impact of religious conflict, economic and social developments, government and social order, the growth of urban settlements, population and demographic change, the mutual interactions between Europe and the Americas, and the growth of state power. You will be able to choose option modules in early modern history from across the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology and you will receive training in historical methodologies and research techniques to help you research and write a dissertation on the subject that most interests you.

You will read widely in both secondary works and translated primary sources, but there is no language requirement.

Course Modules

The programme consists of 3 main sections: a core course, option modules and a dissertation.

In your choice of option modules, you may decide to range widely or to concentrate on a single area. A wide range of options are available and vary from year to year.

You will also write a dissertation on a research topic of your choice.

Not all modules are available each year. View the full timetable for the year.

Core module:

Mastering Historical Research: Birkbeck Approaches .

Option modules:

Death, Disease and Early Modern City;

Early Modern London: Society and Culture;

Opposition and Dissent in Early Modern France;

Plots, Conspiracy Theory and Political Culture in Early Modern Britain and France;

Power and Communication in Europe, from the Reformation to Enlightenment;

Public Histories in Practice;

Renaissance Florence: Society, Religion and Culture;

Text and Action: Renaissance Stage Directions;

The Making of Modern Societies: Britain and Europe, c.1500'c.1750;

The Origins of the French Revolution .

Start Date:


Duration & Attendance Qualification Tuition fees Fee type
1 year
Full Time
MA £8,175 Home Fees
1 year
Full Time
MA £14,850 Overseas Fees
2 years
Part Time
MA £4,075 Home Fees
2 years
Part Time
MA £7,425 Overseas Fees

Qualifications required:

  • 2nd-Class Honours degree and references. We also offer a 1-year Graduate Certificate in history, which can be used as a conversion course if you want to study history at postgraduate level, but have a degree in a significantly different discipline. 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.