The MA (Hons) in Modern History will teach you to analyse historical events from the past five-hundred years from a present-day context. You will choose from a range of optional classes with very broad chronological, geographical and thematic coverage.
The modern era comprises the period from around 1450 to the 21st century, and classes are offered on the histories of many nations and regions, including Britain, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia and parts of Africa and the Americas. Intellectual, political, cultural, military, religious, gender, social and economic history are among the options on offer.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Modern History MA page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
Standard entry grades: AAAAB, including A in History
Minimum entry grades: AABB, including B in History
Gateway entry grades: BBBB, including B in History
Standard entry grades: AAA, including A in History
Minimum entry grades: ABB, including B in History
Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6), including HL6 in History
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in History
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language, you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.
St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The School of History at St Andrews has an international reputation for the diversity of teaching programmes offered. The School has expertise in medieval and modern history, from Scotland to Byzantium, and the Americas to the Middle East and South Asia.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
The MA (Hons) in Modern History is a four-year course run by the School of History. During your studies, you will learn to critically examine primary sources, survey material analytically and develop study skills.
Alongside Modern History, in the first year of your studies you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.
The skills you gain in analysing original and secondary source materials will prepare you to continue exploring a wide range of historical subjects at a more advanced level in your third and fourth years. During these years, you will be able to branch out and study the modern history of countries and societies from around the globe. You will also be encouraged to dive deeper into a specialist topic of your choice during your fourth year.
Breadth of knowledge and perspective are highly encouraged, and all sub-honours students are expected to take some modules in other subject areas, for example English, Art History or Geography.
Graduates in Modern History from St Andrews can expect to have developed a wide knowledge in history and be able to make connections across different time periods and between different cultures.
The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure webpage.
Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules:
The Early Modern Western World (c. 1450-1770): looks at continental European history in the early modern period, and the expansion of Europe.
Themes in Late Modern History (c. 1776-2001): provides thematic coverage of major political and social developments in the Western world during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Students will take the following compulsory second-year modules:
History as a Discipline: Development and Key Concepts: provides an introduction to key theoretical and methodological approaches which have characterised the emergence of History as a discipline since medieval times.
Scotland, Britain and Empire (c. 1500-2000): provides an introduction to how and why the British nation state evolved from the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland and how and why it has survived over the last three centuries.
If you decide to take Modern History in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules ranging from Elizabethan England to East Asia in the 20thcentury.
Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:
British cinema history, 1920-1960
China's Revolutions, 1850-1989
Curiosity, Empire, and Science in Eighteenth-century France
From Cradle to Grave: Living and Dying in Early Modern England (c. 1500-1800)
Imperial Russia 1815-1917
Political Thought From Machiavelli to Tocqueville
Stalinism, Nazism and Central Europe (1912-1941)
The American Revolution
The Decline and Fall of the French Old Regime (1715-1789)
Twentieth-century Germany: A sense of place
Women and Men in Europe (1500 – 1800)
Some modules at Honours level are intended to build your portfolio and provide you with career experience. For example, the Recording the Past module allows you to submit a multimedia historical project in the form of a radio programme, video documentary, website or another appropriate medium.
In fourth year, students may also undertake a dissertation of around 10,000 to 12,000 words on a topic of their choice or an Honours Project. These modules based on independent research enable you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.
The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours-level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
Teaching at sub-honours level is delivered primarily through lectures (100 to 300 students) and small group tutorials (6 to 9 students). Lectures are given by all members of the School, enabling students to hear active researchers in each field talk about their specialism. Tutorials are an opportunity for students to discuss and develop their thinking in a small and friendly atmosphere, guided by a professional expert.
Teaching at Honours level moves away from large group lecturing. Students meet in groups of about 10 to 18 students for longer classes in which they are expected to participate fully.
When not attending lectures and tutorials, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:
working on individual and group projects
undertaking research in the library
preparing coursework assignments and presentations
preparing for examinations.
You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of modern history. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of classes and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.
Find contact information for all History staff on the School of History website.
In addition to your studies in the School of History, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.
The University’s student services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities webpage.
During your Modern History degree, you will be assessed by a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework includes:
Classroom examinations often incorporate essays and source exercises. In addition, most modules include a written examination held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.
The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.
Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale webpage.
Visit St Andrews
If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.
History graduates find employment in academia, museums and archives, or as History teachers.
Using the analytical and communication skills acquired through the study of History, many also proceed to careers including:
the financial sector
The School also offers a course which gives students the opportunity to gain invaluable first-hand experience of teaching in local schools.
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
Modern History students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of Modern History may be interested in joining the following student society:
History Society hosts talks with guest speakers on a variety of topics as well as social events including pub nights, garden parties and trips abroad.
The School of History occupies three sites all within a few minutes’ walk of each other at the heart of the historic town of St Andrews. Students will attend tutorials, seminars and individual meetings with tutors in these buildings, while larger lectures are located in nearby buildings. The School of History sites are:
St Katharine’s Lodge, a 19th-century former school near the seafront
New Arts Building, a modern building with lecture classrooms and study spaces
St John’s House, located on South Street.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
"The unique part about History at St Andrews is that in many cases you are surrounded by the history you are studying. When we learned about the Scottish Reformation it was easier to understand when many of the principal locations were literally right outside the door of the lecture theatre."
Philip (New Jersey, USA)
School of History University of St Andrews St Katharine's Lodge The Scores St Andrews KY16 9BA
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).