Prospective postgraduates

Programme description

This programme will give you a comprehensive understanding of the increasingly global experience of humankind in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


What has brought about the most recent past? Has the end of the Cold War created a ‘new world order’? Has 9/11 changed our world forever? Is globalisation the dominant force of our age or is there a return to nationalism? By exploring such questions critically and analytically, you have a unique opportunity to understand the present through the recent past.

This programme teaches you to appreciate the distinctiveness of contemporary history, its use of sources (e.g. radio, television, film, internet-based sources, such as the ‘Wikileaks’, etc.) and its methodology.

Contemporary History is unique in that it offers a study of the past supported by oral, not just written, sources, including interviews, film and sound documents. Students will also be introduced to the important process of uncovering still secret archives and materials and familiarise themselves with the process of declassification.

Breadth of expertise

Students benefit from the experience and methodologically different approaches to contemporary history of over 40 internationally recognised experts. To name just a few, our staff specialise in:

  • political history
  • cultural history
  • social history
  • economic history
  • military history
  • colonialism and post-colonialism
  • gender history
  • intellectual history

In addition, students will have the opportunity to take appropriate courses in other Schools, e.g. those of Social and Political Science and of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Our staff specialising in contemporary history jointly cover not only every imaginable disciplinary approach to history, but also almost every geographical region on the globe, including Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

We are therefore in a position to deliver a programme that emphasises the increasingly inter- and transnational, and indeed global experience of humankind in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will be able to study this unique period of history within a range of diverse topics, including:

  • the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries
  • civil rights
  • decolonisation
  • human rights and social memory
  • cinema
  • crime
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • class
  • the digital world