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MA in History

This degree course is based around the study of British and Irish local and regional history between 1750 and 1950. Using our world-class collection of online primary source materials you will be encouraged to produce an independent research project on a topic of your choice. It will suit you if you have the appropriate entry qualifications, a passion for history and are looking for an intellectual challenge.

Masters degree

Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
2–10 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


For this masters degree you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA History part 1 (A825)

Explore British and Irish histories from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and increase your understanding of a range of key approaches to studying history.

See full description

120 03 Oct 2015
MA History part 2 (A826)

This module focuses on the planning and writing of a dissertation which will test your ability to present a sustained academic argument in clear, logical prose.

See full description

60 07 May 2016

You must pass A825 before studying A826.

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit transfer

For this qualification, we do not allow you to count credit for study you have already done elsewhere.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Master of Arts in History, entitling you to use the letters MA (Hist) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you leave the programme before you qualify for the MA you can gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanities (D35) after successfully completing the 120-credit module MA History part 1 (A825).


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in History course. Your degree need not be in history, but you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The first module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches in history but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those without a history-related bachelors degree or inadequate experience.

If you do not hold an honours degree then the Advanced Diploma in Local History (COXR305), offered in collaboration with the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education is accepted as an alternative entry qualification to this degree. This course would provide suitable preparation if your degree is not in history or a closely related subject (for further information please visit our collaborative schemes website).

In all cases before you enter the degree you should be confident that you will be able to:

  • write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • identify different types of sources and assess their reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • assemble a range of sources into a well-structured piece of writing.

If you are in any doubt about whether you possess these skills, or if you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact us for advice.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

You must complete this qualification within ten years.

Career relevance

This degree will provide you with a  foundational knowledge of British and Irish local history as well as practical skills in the use of print and online primary source material.  It will also give you experience of project planning, research methods and writing a dissertation. It will be valuable if you are, or are planning a career as, a teacher, librarian, museum or heritage professional, or have an interest in local history and want to develop your historical research skills. Careers where history would be useful include journalism, writing, the civil service or public administration. History can open up options to a wide range of careers.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.