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MA in Early Modern History

Course Director

Professor Peter Marshall

MA in Early Modern History (P-V141)

This programme explores religious, social, economic, political and cultural developments in the early modern world (c.1450-c.1800).

Early modern history is a core strength of the the Warwick University History Department. Approximately one-third of the Department's academic staff are scholars of the early modern period, from Britain and Europe to the Americas and China.

The first term core module Themes in Early Modern History provides a critical perspective on key themes and introduces you to a range of expertise at Warwick. This runs alongside a module taken by all MA students exploring theories, skills and methods. In the second term you have a choice of two taught modules - each one taking a different topic and exploring it across time and space. These will help you place your early modern interests in religion, gender, empire, consumption or medicine in a comparative framework as well as deepen your acquaintance with relevant ideas and approaches from outside early modern scholarship. These modules enable you to focus on your early modern interests (you can write all your assessed work on early modern themes) whilst situating them in a wider context that will enrich your studies. The final key element is the dissertation - here you have a large amount of freedom to develop a project of your own choice with help and guidance from your supervisor.

MA students are encouraged to engage with the lively early modern research culture at Warwick - you can find out more about the programme of lectures, seminars, workshops and conferences hosted by the department, and about the research projects being undertaken, in the right hand column.

The programme will also help you to acquire the conceptual and practical skills needed to conduct PhD research in Early Modern history.

All our MA courses can be followed on a part-time basis over two years. For further information, please contact the PGT Director, Dr Laura Schwartz or the director of the early modern course, Prof. Beat Kumin.

The Programme:


A compulsory course designed to help students acquire the methodological skills needed to undertake an extended piece of historical research and writing.

Outline syllabus:

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Key Early Modern debates
Week 3: Religion
Week 4: Politics and state building or revolutions
Week 5: Global expansion/colonialism
Week 7: Science, tecnology & environment
Week 8: Society & culture
Week 9: The public sphere & communicative practices
Week 10: Comparative Early Modernities
  • Two Optional Modules: to be selected from options listed below (30 CATS each)
  • Dissertation (15,000 words) (60 CATS)

This is worth a third of your overall assessment and in many ways also represents the culmination of your studies. You will be able to write on a topic of your own choosing and work, under the guidance of a supervisor, to research and write it. You will be encouraged to think about planning this as early as possible in your year of study, so that it is something you develop over as much time as possible, but after the end of the taught element of the programme you will work on the dissertation full time to refine your ideas about the material you gather.

Optional modules:

  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Religious Cultures (HI993)
    This team-taught one-term option complements other modules by focusing on the (vast) role of religion in early modernity. Rather than following a chronological structure or dealing with individual denominations, it examines religious issues through (a) the perspectives of different academic disciplines and (b) coverage of key themes. Students will be able to engage with the multiplicity of approaches pursued in the field more generally and by members of the History department in particular.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Gender and Sexuality (HI996)
    This optional module is intended to give a critical overview of one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas of modern historical enquiry - the history of gender and sexuality. It aims to provide students with an understanding of how feminist and queer history has emerged from earlier approaches to the study of history, what makes it distinctive and what its principal strengths and weaknesses might be. It spans geographical period and chronological period.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Empire (HI995)
    This module draws on the considerable expertise throughout the department to consider how historians engage with the question of 'empire.' It spans geographical area and chronological period.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Consumption (HI994)
    This module draws on the considerable expertise throughout the department to consider how historians engage with the question of 'consumption.' It spans geographical area and chronological period.
  • Matters of LIfe and Death: Topics in the Medical Humanities (HI991)
    This module will address two to three topics in the history of medicine (broadly construed) selected by its students from a menu of possible options. This unusual structure gives 'Matters of Life and Death' the flexibility required to ensure that it is always focused on subjects closely related to student interests and dissertation research. Possible topics range across the expertise of teaching and research staff in the Centre for the History of Medicine, and of our Associates in the wider University context.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Science,Technology, Environment and Society

    How can we understand the social and natural world in which we live? Concepts such as ‘nature’, ‘environment’, ‘the body’, ‘the economy’, or ‘society’ help us to classify and order the endless phenoma in the material and natural world that we encounter every day. Yet while such concepts are vital, and seem fixed, transhistorical and objective, they emerged at particular moments in history, their meanings changed, and they were often deployed for particular purposes.This module investigates the rise, changing meanings and purposes of such ordering concepts and the practices which go with them. It also explores how such concepts and practices reflected the social, economic, and political contexts in which they emerged and flourished.

Please note that only those modules for which there is sufficient demand will actually run.
How to Apply:

To apply for the MA in Early Modern History (P-V141), please complete the University's Online Application Form

For more information on Admissions in general please see the History PG Admissions webpage.



Insights into the Early Modern and Eighteenth Century Research Culture at Warwick


An image from a print workshop investigating early modern printing at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, which is just 45 mintues away

Early Modern Forum

We run a digital early modern forum to share knowledge and approaches

We have SIX Research Centres that are active in early modern research:

The Renaissance Centre, The Early Modern and Eighteenth Century Centre, the European History Research Centre, the Gobal History and Culture Centre, the Centre for Caribbean Studies and the Centre for the History of Medicine. All of them run extensive seminar programmes, workshops and conferences which MA students are encouraged to attend. Click on the links above to find recent events.


Warwick has a palazzo base in Venice which we sometimes use for workshops and conferences and we have expertise in early mdern Italian history

We have many externally and internally funded research projects:

Leverhulme-funded Socio-economic rights in History

The Warwick Network for Parish Research with its My-Parish platform

An IAS-funded interdisciplinary Corruption Network

An AHRC-funded project investigating the history of office-holding in Britain, Mexico and Kenya