MA Courses

For more information on any of these courses please check:


MA in Historical Research and Public History:

  • Public History (course leader/co-developer and co-teaching it with Dr Olly Ayers)

Public history is history in the public sphere, whether in museums and galleries, heritage sites and historic houses, radio and television broadcasting, film, popular history books, or public policy within government. In the UK, it is a new and burgeoning area of academic interest. The central challenge and tasks of public history are making history relevant and accessible to an audience outside academia while adhering to an academically credible historical method.

This course explores the theory and practice of public history in heritage, broadcasting and publication. The course considers the principles of visitor interpretation, museology and curatorship, asking questions such as: how is the past used; what is authenticity; and what decisions influence the presentation and interpretation of museums and historic houses?

The course also seriously engages with the challenge of how to represent history in television documentaries, radio broadcasts, mainstream cinema, in the making of public policy, and as popular history or historical fiction. Must public history mean ‘dumbing down’, or can we satisfy the public’s curiosity about the past in a way that also satisfies us as historians?

The Public History strand of the MA Historical Research & Public History programme teaches you how to appraise critically how historical knowledge can contribute to a broader public engagement with the past, and the challenges and complexities of reconstructing the past for a general audience.

During your studies, you will meet with professionals who practise History in the public realm, including historical novelists, media producers, museum curators and keeper of historical archives. The faculty will also organise a study trip a significant historic house, or another site of historical interest.