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Aims of the Course

Aims of the Course

The MPhil in British History:

  • offers students who have completed degrees in which History is the main or at least a substantial component the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge of modern British history. It is particularly appropriate for those who may wish to continue on to a PhD, at Cambridge or elsewhere, in modern British history.  It is also well-suited for those who seek simply to explore modern British history at a deeper level, and to develop generic independent research skills drawing on the unique resources that a specialism in modern British history offers.
  • immerses students in an extremely rich and plural historiographical landscape. Formerly rooted in the nineteenth-century quest for a national political history, and for long fixated on Whig narratives of the rise of liberty and democracy, modern British history has more recently diversified along the lines of identity categories such as class, race, and gender, but also novel analytical perspectives privileging religion and spirituality, the role of ideas and new educational movements, migrations and transnational exchanges, new understandings of selfhood, the body and emotions.
  • draws on the unique range of expertise available at the University of Cambridge, with literally dozens of postdoctoral scholars available to advise and supervise research.
  • trains students in the use of the printed, manuscript, visual and oral sources for the study of British history, drawing on the collections of the University Library, the Churchill Archives Centre (which holds the private papers of 600 key individuals in modern British history including Winston Churchill, Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher), nine world-class museums and over 100 other libraries and archives in Cambridge.
  • provides an opportunity for students to undertake, at postgraduate level, researching and writing a piece of original historical research under close supervision by an acknowledged expert, which for many students will provide the gateway to publication.
  • exposes students to the full range of intellectual and professional experiences that can be provided by Cambridge’s very extensive historical community, including over thirty specialist research seminars that meet weekly or fortnightly, plus interdisciplinary forums such as CRASSH (the university’s centre for humanities and social science research) and tailor-made opportunities for outreach and dissemination of academic research, including work in digital humanities and multi-media.

 By the end of the programme, students will have acquired:

  1. a firm grasp of the historiographical debates in Modern British History;
  2.  research skills relevant to the specific area in which they will have written a dissertation;
  3.  the ability to situate their own research findings within the context of previous and current interpretative scholarly debates in the field.