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Aims of the Course

Educational Aims

For the MPhil in American History, in the first term, students on the course will be offered an intensive training programme consisting of classes, seminars, workshops, individual and group assignments. Each student will take a compulsory core readings course in American history.  This course will include weekly classes in Michaelmas Term on major themes, historiography, and methods, based on key readings, so that students come to a foundational understanding of central themes in American history.  Students will also choose two Options, one in Michaelmas Term and one in Lent Term, from a range of Options in American and other history.  Each of these modules will require a 3,000-4,000 word essay (or equivalent) and will count for 10% of the final mark (so all three modules will count for 30% of the final degree mark).   Those who satisfactorily complete this programme of study will continue on to a research project, closely supervised by one of Cambridge’s outstanding group of American historians. They will be expected to submit a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words by the middle of June. This dissertation is worth 70% of the final degree mark.

The MPhil in American History aims to:

  • explore key themes underpinning American history as well as the debates that shaped this dynamic field
  • train students in the use of the printed, manuscript, visual, material culture, and oral sources for the study of American history, and introduce the use of sources, within and beyond U.S. archives;
  • offer an intensive introduction to research methodologies and skills useful for the study of American history
  • provide an opportunity for students to undertake, at postgraduate level, a piece of original historical research in American history under close supervision: to write a substantial piece of history in the form of a dissertation with full scholarly apparatus.

 By the end of the programme, students will have:

  • knowledge of key debates and trends in American history and historiography
  • greater understanding of issues, events, and people in American history
  • skills in presenting work in both oral and written form
  • advanced research and writing skills (at postgraduate level)