MA History part 2

This module provides an exciting opportunity to engage deeply with a historical topic that interests you through the preparation and execution of your own independent research project. This module has been designed to support you in the planning, research and writing of a dissertation on a topic that you choose yourself. This topic will build on the specialist themes that you have studied during MA History part 1 and take into account feedback from your supervisor.

Vocational relevance

The module will contribute to enhancing your prospects in careers such as teaching, libraries, archives, museums, heritage and tourism industries, as well as providing material relevant to the continuing professional development of employees in public-facing roles such as education, police, and social and health services.

It is also ideal preparation for higher-level doctoral study, and indeed an MA qualification is usually required for admission to a programme of research leading to a PhD.


A884 is a compulsory module in our:


Module 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.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

This module further develops the knowledge and skills introduced during MA History part 1. Your dissertation project should be related to one of the specialist themes addressed in that module and focus primarily on an aspect of British and or Irish history during the period 1500–1970. 

Careful planning in the early stages of any research project is essential. With that in mind, this module commences with six units of teaching materials which will take you through the steps necessary to develop your initial idea for a dissertation project into a coherent, refined and feasible research proposal.

The learning aims for these units are to:

  • develop your understanding of the research process
  • support you in the preparation of a viable research proposal
  • introduce skills and strategies to manage your research project effectively

Your research proposal will provide you with a solid foundation to proceed with the independent research phase of the module, when you will focus on researching and writing your dissertation. There are two dissertation options available on this module.

1: Standard dissertation 
This is an original, extended piece of academic writing. It should demonstrate knowledge of a specific topic, put forward a clear, rigorous argument, and attempt to prove or establish something by means of analysis and the presentation of evidence.   

2: Practice-based dissertation 
This is a piece of work equivalent to a standard dissertation. It is comprised of a project report and a ‘research product’ component. Research products should relate to the handling and analysis of primary sources (e.g. datasets, edited transcripts, data visualisations, oral history research). The two components of this dissertation option are expected to work together to offer an original, extended piece of academic research, demonstrating knowledge of a specific topic, putting forward a clear, rigorous argument, and attempting to prove or establish something by means of analysis and presentation of evidence.   

Carrying out independent historical research is an exciting and rewarding experience. You will be supported throughout by your supervisor, module materials, online forums and module learning events.

You will learn

This module will help you to further develop and practice advanced skills for:

  • locating, handling and analysing historical sources
  • communicating complex evidence, ideas and arguments
  • planning and managing an independent research project.

Teaching and assessment


The assessment details can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

MA History part 2 starts once a year – in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2034.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

Normally you must have completed either MA History part 1 (A883) or the discontinued module A825 before you take this module.

If you’re in any doubt about the suitability of your qualifications or previous experience, please contact us before you enrol.

Preparatory work

Dissertation topics developed during this module should broadly correspond with one of the specialist theme options you studied during MA History part 1 (A883). As a result, reviewing relevant A883 study materials and following up on suggested further reading is advised by way of preparation.


Start End England fee Register
07 Sep 2024 Jun 2025 £3820.00

Registration closes 15/08/24 (places subject to availability)

06 Sep 2025 Jun 2026 Not yet available

Registration opens on 15/03/25

This module is expected to start for the last time in September 2034.

Future availability

MA History part 2 starts once a year – in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2034.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a module guide
  • an interactive week-by-week study planner
  • teaching text and activities for each week
  • video and audio recordings
  • assessment guidance
  • access to online forums.
You'll also have access to electronic resources for studying history, including access to our world-class collection of primary and secondary source databases and ebooks, as well as training in their use, via The Open University library.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available on the module website. Some Adobe PDF components and electronic journals may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader; this applies in particular to historical records that may have been scanned for use online. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

During this module, you may need to use primary historical data sources (such as local archives) that may not yet be available as online resources; in which case, you may need to arrange physical access to their location (such as a library or other public record office).

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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