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MAPublic History

Tuition fee To be confirmed
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Expenses, accommodation, working etc. 


The Royal Holloway MA in Public History is aimed at historians who are keen to engage the public by becoming experts in communicating ideas about the past in a range of spaces and media. It provides a unique gateway to the heritage and history sectors, as well as in public media, it therefore provides relevant learning opportunities if you wish to pursue a career in broadcasting or film, in museums, heritage, with community organisations or in journalism. It is also suited to academic historians who are looking for the theories, knowledge and skills to communicate their research in the most effective way to wider audiences.

The course was designed in collaboration with potential employers and is taught by staff and industry professionals who are well connected and up-to-date with the latest techniques. Through your studies you will develop professional skills of historical interpretation and communication and have the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals, including museum curators, public archivists, publishers and TV and radio producers. You will learn about the key theories that underpin public history, digital history and public engagement and become equipped to work in a sector undergoing constant development, where collaborating with other professionals and members of the public will be essential.

We are one of the largest and liveliest History departments in the UK yet our size is not at the cost of anonymity; you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community. Our internationally renowned academics are developing the very latest thinking on historical problems and their interests range from the ancient to the contemporary.

Programme structure

Core modules
Pathways to the Past
In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of practical issues relating to the presentation of the past to contemporary audiences, including the interpretation of history in public and communal spaces and the management of heritage sites. You will look at ethical and legal matters, strategic planning and development, as well as awarenesss of a range of issues related to working with local communities, visitor survey and evaluation, exhibition planning, collection conservation, and education techniques for working in informal public spaces. You will examine debates relating to history in museums, community history, history as commemoration, history as apology and communicating with minorities about the past. You will also consider popular writing, history journalism, and history broadcasting, with the opportunity to visit several museums and galleries, experiencing how institutions and projects use archival, visual and material resources.

History Past and Present – Definitions, Concepts and Approaches
In this module you will develop an understanding of the major intellectual traditions within the study of History as a discipline. You will look at how history is a subject that sits between the social sciences and the arts, and often avoids reflecting on its own practice. You will consider what ‘writing history’ actually entails and what possibilities it offers, considering how history has proliferated over the last decade, both in the growth of scholoarly monographs and articles, and in the field of public history with its television serials, trade books, and museum displays.

Studying and Communicating the Past
In this module you will develop an understanding of the range, scope and depth of historical archives. You will learn how to uncover documents and artefacts, and how to construct a convincing historical story. You will interpret a variety of evidence including written texts, recorded interviews, film and photography and material objects, as well as look at some key interpretative methods such as oral and transnational history. You will hear from a number of visiting speakers who are specialists and practitioners, examining a range of theoretical approaches to historical interpretation.

Voice of the Public
In this module you will develop an understanding of the theory and practice of oral history in the wider context of public history. You will look at a range of current theories within oral history, including experience, collective memory and social remembering. You will examine the relationship between individual narratives, group narratives and public memory, and the concept of historical consciousness. You will examine the ethical and legal implications of collecting and using oral history interviews, including the significance and implications of shared authority and the Copyright, Designs and Patenets Act (1998). You will also learn how to design questions and schedules, and how to conduct and evaluate an interview, considering the different ways an interview can be interpreted.

The Public Communication and the Understanding of History
In this module you will develop an understanding of the core issues in communicating the public understanding of the past. You will learn how to plan, record and produce a variety of aural, written and visual projects. You will look at recent and current developments in the field of public communications in a variety of printed, audio and visual media. You will examine controversies in contemporary public history and heritage, archives and museums, and consider the interface between historical resources and public output, analysing how the public engages with history.

Project Dissertation
You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervsior, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length or a comparative piece of work in another medium, such as a video or website.

Career opportunities

On completion of your MA in Public History at Royal Holloway you will be equipped to pursue a career in broadcasting or film, in museums, heritage, with community organisations or in journalism. You will also have started to develop a valuable network of producers and representatives from production companies and links within the industry. Our Careers team will work with you to enhance your employability and prepare you for the choices ahead. Their support doesn’t end when you graduate; you can access the service for up to two years after graduation.

Apply now! Fall semester 2020/21
This intake is not applicable

We are currently NOT ACCEPTING applications from NON-EU countries, except Georgia and Serbia.

Studies commence
Oct 1, 2020

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States