Public History MA

London, Stratford (UCL East)

The MA in Public History will give students the opportunity to consider how history is created and understood in public contexts. The programme offers advanced-level teaching by leading practitioners and is delivered across both the new UCL East and historic Bloomsbury campuses.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£14,100
£7,050
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£29,000
£14,500
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree


The MA in Public History combines cutting-edge, research-led knowledge of the way history is produced and engaged with in public contexts, with training in the practices through which public historical understanding is created and communicated. Students will benefit from UCL’s rich experience working with national heritage institutions, museums, and media outlets, as well as local communities in London, and from the university’s own role as a public history provider (through its three on-campus museums and special collections). They will work with internationally recognised practitioner-researchers in the fields of oral history, documentary film and radio, exhibition curation, digital history, historical dramatisation, and heritage-making. Students will also have opportunities to study with public history professionals from beyond UCL and thus gain exposure to a range of career pathways.

The approach of the MA in Public History is distinctively global and interdisciplinary. Students will be primarily based out of UCL East where they will work alongside those undertaking studies in the related fields of global urbanism, heritage studies, creative humanities, and media studies. They will first examine what public history means and how it changes over time and place, across distinct global contexts, exploring key concepts and debates centring on memory, heritage, history as activism, history as business, policy, and as institutional and community memory, as well as the arts and acts of remembrance. They will then focus on developing their practical public history skills in an area, or areas, of public history relevant to them, through project-based work in collaboration with one of UCL’s experienced practitioner-mentors. The programme’s emphasis on combining a theoretical framework with practice-based learning will allow students to critically self-reflect on their public history efforts as they produce them.

Who this course is for

The programme provides an ideal foundation for students interested in expanding their knowledge of public history and their skills in communicating historical research to diverse publics, or who are keen to pursue careers in various public-history related sectors, such as the media or heritage industries. The programme will also appeal to those with existing public history experience who are keen to further develop their critical and practical skills.

What this course will give you

UCL History enjoys an outstanding international reputation for its research and teaching.

The department is strongly committed to the intellectual development of all our students; if you come to UCL, you will receive individual supervision from leading historians.

Public History MA students will be primarily based at UCL East, our new state of the art campus in Stratford, East London. The UCL East campus will provide access to a number of collaborative and creative spaces, including the Memory Workshop, a centre for public-facing history teaching and research, as well as conservation and media studios, and exhibition and curating spaces. Students also have access to the Bloomsbury campus, which is just a few minutes walk away from the exceptional resources of the British Library, the British Museum and the research institutes of the University of London, including the Warburg and the Institute of Historical Research. UCL is ideally located at the heart of various historical societies and academic communities.

The foundation of your career

Employability

The programme is designed to teach many of the transferable skills that history MA programmes offer, and which provide a strong foundation for those hoping to undertake PhD research and an academic career. On top of this, the programme provides the transferable skills necessary to pursue a career in media, heritage, education, the civil service, the arts sector, and business.

Debate, small group seminars and tutorials provide you with strong presentation and negotiation skills for your future career. Project-based work will help you learn how to collaborate, manage your time and workload effectively, while developing your competency in working independently – skills highly-prized by employers across a range of sectors. The media and digital skills training you acquire will develop your ability to communicate effectively across a wide range of genres and audiences. By learning with industry professionals and specialist practitioners, you will gain knowledge of a range of career pathways and possibilities for further networking. There are many additional activities available, both within the department and the wider UCL community, to help you focus on employability skills whilst you are here, for example departmental careers talks and networking opportunities with History alumni.

Teaching and learning

A core part of assessment will be through coursework essays. However, students will also be assessed through video and audio productions, oral presentations, web resources, project reports and proposals, treatments, and scripts.

It is expected that you will spend approximately 150 hours studying for a 15 credit module, and approximately 300 hours studying for a 30 credit module. These hours include contact time (usually two hours of staff-led time per week), private study and the undertaking of coursework assignments.

Modules

The programme is designed so you can develop your own personal trajectory within the field of public history, developing your practical skills in specific modes of public history practice as you extend and apply your critical understanding of them.

  • In Term 1, you will gain a solid foundation in the concepts and debates relevant to public history, beginning to explore the distinct shapes it has taken across time and geography, and the distinct publics which not only consume but create historical understanding. You will learn about the commercial, community and political applications of historical knowledge, while also reflecting on how taking history public impacts on academic research and historiography.
  • In Term 2, you will deepen your skills as a public history maker by researching and co-creating an assessed small public history project, mentored by experienced practitioners from within UCL and/or beyond.

In both terms 1 and 2, you will be able to take recommended module options which will deepen:

i) your understanding of the diverse contexts in which public history is made, consumed, and applied;

ii) the history from which you intend to make public history outputs; and/or

iii) your practical knowledge of the various genres and spaces through which you intend to make public history.

The culmination of your studies will be a capstone public history research project, which you will focus on in Term 3. This project will allow you to combine your practical and/or historical and/or critical knowledge of public history. It is assessed by both a written piece of work and a public history output. However, before you commence your studies you will decide which element you wish to focus on more. The Public History Research Project: Examining Public History involves working on a 10,000-word research dissertation or public history report (70%) and accompanying public history output (30%, equivalent to work for a 5,000-word essay). The latter will comprise either an audio or video essay, or audio tour, OR a project proposal pitching a history radio programme, documentary television programme or immersive VR experience OR a history web resource (such as a blog, an online teaching resource or a small online exhibition).

Alternatively, if you decide on the Public History Research Project: Creating Public History, you will focus on a public history output (70%, equivalent in work to a 10,000-word dissertation), accompanied by a 5,000-word reflective essay (30%). Subject to availability, your public history output will comprise either a podcast or documentary film, OR an audio tour, OR a script for an episodic history documentary or dramatized history documentary radio or television programme, OR a history web resource (such as a curated oral history collection, a teaching resource for schools, or a virtual exhibition).

The programme is designed so you can develop your own personal trajectory within the field of public history, developing your practical skills in specific modes of public history practice as you extend and apply your critical understanding of them.

In Year 1, you will gain a solid foundation in the concepts and debates relevant to public history, beginning to explore the distinct shapes it has taken across time and geography, and the distinct publics which not only consume but create historical understanding. You will learn about the commercial, community and political applications of historical knowledge, while also reflecting on how taking history public impacts on academic research and historiography.

You will also deepen your skills as a public history maker by researching and co-creating an assessed small public history project, mentored by experienced practitioners from within UCL and/or beyond.

In Year 2 you will focus on a capstone public history research project, which will allow you to combine your practical, historical and critical knowledge of public history. This project is assessed by both a written piece of work and a public history output. However, before the end of your first year of study, you will choose which element you wish to focus on more by choosing one of two options. 

The Public History Research Project: Examining Public History involves working on a 10,000-word research dissertation or public history report (70%) and accompanying public history output (30%, equivalent to work for a 5,000-word essay). The latter will comprise either an audio or video essay, or audio tour, OR a project proposal pitching a history radio programme, documentary television programme or immersive VR experience, OR a history web resource (such as a blog, an online teaching resource or a small online exhibition).

Alternatively, the Public History Research Project: Creating Public History, allows you to focus on a public history output (70%, equivalent in work to a 10,000-word dissertation), accompanied by a 5,000-word reflective essay (30%). Subject to availability, your public history output will comprise either a podcast or documentary film, OR an audio tour, OR a script for an episodic history documentary or dramatized history documentary radio or television programme, OR a history web resource.

In both years 1 and 2, you will be able to take recommended module options which will deepen:
i) your understanding of the diverse contexts in which public history is made, consumed, and applied;
ii) the history from which you intend to make public history outputs; and/or
iii) your practical knowledge of the various genres and spaces through which you intend to make public history. 
 

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

Additional costs

Students are expected to pay the entrance fee to any admission-charging exhibition or museum or archive visited by a class; the tutor will usually negotiate a group discount where this is significantly cheaper than the individual student discount. 

Students who are facing financial hardships can apply for UCL Financial Assistance Funds. 

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

When we assess your application, we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Public History at graduate level
  • why you want to study Public History at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree.

Together with the essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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