Modern History MA (Honours) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

The MA (Hons) in Modern History will teach you to analyse historical events from the past 500 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. 

UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2028
Four years full time
School of History
“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.”
- New Jersey, USA

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. 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.

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 entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    AAAAB, including A in History.
    Minimum entry grades:
    AABB, including B in History.
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • 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.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Students must have studied History at SQA Higher, GCE A-Level or equivalent.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Study abroad

Modern history students can apply to 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.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

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 to 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 web page.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in modern history alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take one modern history module per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours).

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules: 

  • The Early Modern Western World (c. 1450 - c. 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. 1700 - 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 20th century. 

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years: 

  • British Cinema History (1920 - 1960) 
  • Curiosity, Empire, and Science in Eighteenth-Century Europe 
  • From Cradle to Grave: Living and Dying in Early Modern England (c.1500 - c.1800) 
  • Gender and Sexuality in South Asia (1800s-2000s)
  • Imperial Russia 1815 - 1917 
  • Making Economic History Count: Economic Analysis from a Historical Perspective 
  • Stalinism, Nazism and Central Europe (1912 - 1941) 
  • The Decline and Fall of the French Old Regime (1715-1789) 
  • The Power of Persuasion: Propaganda in Renaissance and Reformation Scotland 
  • Twentieth-century Germany: A sense of place 
  • Women and Men in Europe (1500 – 1800) 

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 appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


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 16 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. 

During your modern history degree, you will be assessed by a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework includes: 

  • research essays 
  • class presentations 
  • source analysis. 

Classroom examinations often incorporate essays and source exercises. In addition, many modules include an 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 two 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. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

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.

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 web page.



England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Modern History as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

Course name UCAS code
Master of Arts (Honours) Arabic and Modern HistoryTV61
Master of Arts (Honours) Arabic and Modern History (With Integrated Year Abroad)TV77
Master of Arts (Honours) Art History and Modern HistoryVVC3
Master of Arts (Honours) Chinese Studies and Modern HistoryCH11
Master of Arts (Honours) Chinese Studies and Modern History (With Integrated Year Abroad)CW11
Master of Arts (Honours) Classical Studies and Modern HistoryQVV1
Master of Arts (Honours) Classics and Modern HistoryQ8V1
Master of Arts (Honours) Comparative Literature and Modern HistoryQVF1
Master of Arts (Honours) Economics and Modern HistoryLV11
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Modern HistoryQV31
Master of Arts (Honours) Film Studies and Modern HistoryPV31
Master of Arts (Honours) French and Modern HistoryRV11
Master of Arts (Honours) French and Modern History (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVCD
Master of Arts (Honours) Geography and Modern HistoryLV71
Master of Arts (Honours) German and Modern HistoryRV21
Master of Arts (Honours) German and Modern History (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVGC
Master of Arts (Honours) Greek and Modern HistoryQ7V1
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Modern HistoryVL12
Master of Arts (Honours) Italian and Modern HistoryRV3D
Master of Arts (Honours) Italian and Modern History (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVHC
Master of Arts (Honours) Latin and Modern HistoryQVQ1
Master of Arts (Honours) Management and Modern HistoryNV21
Master of Arts (Honours) Mathematics and Modern HistoryGVD1
Master of Arts (Honours) Middle East Studies and Modern HistoryVT16
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and New TestamentVV61
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and PersianV1T7
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and PhilosophyVVD5
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and PsychologyCV8C
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and RussianRV71
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and Russian (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVRC
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and Social AnthropologyLVP1
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and SpanishRV41
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and Spanish (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVK1
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and Sustainable DevelopmentSV10
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and Theological StudiesVVC6

"With" degrees

You can take Modern History as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first name subject. St Andrews offers the following "with" degrees in Modern History:

  • Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History with Bible and Culture - UCAS code MB01
  • Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History with Persian - UCAS code 91V6


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: 

  • law 
  • publishing 
  • armed forces 
  • service industries 
  • the financial sector 
  • the arts 
  • the media. 

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.

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2900
School of History
St Katharine's Lodge
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9BA

School of History website

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