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Modern and Contemporary History

V140 BA (Hons) 3 years


This degree applies history to a range of contemporary issues. Our range of modules will show you how to analyse these in different ways. These could be biographical (e.g. Kennedy or Mandela), national (e.g. British or American history) and thematic (e.g. the history of terrorism or political thought). You will study leadership and government and also the broader social and cultural contexts, to form a holistic view. Our London location makes this the perfect degree for those with a global interest.

Why study history at Queen Mary?

In the 2016 National Student Survey,Queen Mary 98% of Modern and Contemporary History students said that staff are good at explaining things. 94% said staff have made the subject interesting.

In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), the research environment in the School of History at Queen Mary was ranked among the top 5 departments in the UK. Our academics are internationally renowned in their fields, and our track record in both research and teaching is excellent. We count the former President of the Royal Historical Society and six fellows of British Academy among our number.

Our staff regularly contribute to academic and public life with books, journal papers, and media broadcasts. Broadcasts from History staff include: BBC Two series Ian Hislop’s a Stiff Upper Lip-An Emotional History of Britain, a series in which Dr Thomas Dixon was a consultant and interviewee. BBC Two’s Behind Closed Doors and At Home with the Georgians and BBC Radio 4’s Voices from the Old Bailey by Professor Amanda Vickery. Professor Julian Jackson delivered a programme on Charles de Gaulle called Monsieur Non for Archive on 4; and Dr Tom Asbridge developed and presented The Crusader’s Lost Fort for BBC2’s Timewatch.

Our intellectual diversity is a key feature of our community. This will enable you to study political history alongside the history of art or film. By following cultural and intellectual themes you could investigate topics as diverse as: the lives of Oscar Wilde; the representation of war in contemporary British popular culture; or the Medieval Islamic world.

You will have membership to the Queen Mary Library and the University of London Library, Senate House, both of which have extensive collections. You will also enjoy reading access to the other college libraries within the University of London, and can take advantage of Queen Mary’s London location and ready access to a wealth of other libraries, museums and archives.

Study abroad

You can choose to apply for a four-year version of this degree with a full year abroad. We have links with universities around the world, including Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia (specific partnerships for each programme may vary).

While there are no extra tuition fees associated with these placements abroad, you will need to cover the cost of your transport to your destination and your living expenses, including accommodation.

Find out more about study abroad opportunities at QMUL.


From 2017, we are introducing the QMUL Model to all our degrees.  For further information on this initiative please contact Dr Claire Trenery, Queen Mary Model Administrator in the School of History

Year 1

Compulsory modules:

  • History in Practice (QMUL Model module)
  • Europe in a Global Context since 1800
  • Unravelling Britain: British History since 1801

Modules may include:

  • Building the American Nation 1756-1900
  • Global Encounters: Conquest and Culture in World History 
  • Reformation to Revolution: Europe and the World, 1500-1800
  • The Foundations of Modern Thought: Introduction to Intellectual History

Year 2

Modules may include:

  • A Century of Extremes: Germany 1890-1990
  • British Horror: Film, Television and Literature
  • Architecture in London II 1837 - to the Present
  • Madness and Medicine in Modern Britain
  • Winning on the Western Front: the British Army 1914-1919
  • The Clinton Years
  • Race in the United States: Slavery to Civil Rights 

Year 3

Compulsory module:

History Special Subject (this includes a dissertation) 

These may include:

  • The Kennedy Years
  • Making Thatcher's Britain: the Thatcher Revolution, 1975-1997
  • The French Civil 1934-1944
  • The War on Terror
  • We the People: Democracy in America 1787-1861
  • The 'Heart of Darkness'? Identity, Power, and Politics in the Congo c.1870-2010

Modules may include:

  • A History of Terror in the Modern Age 1858-2008
  • The British Empire in Political Thought from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth Century
  • The Germans and the Jews since 1871
  • Gotham: the Making of New York City 1825-2001
  • The Supernatural in Modern Britain
  • Modern Art, 1900-1950
  • Alfred Hitchcock and the New Film History 

Entry requirements

General Admission Entry Requirements can be found below.

2018 Entry requirements

A-LevelGrades ABB at A-Level. This must include A-Level History. Excludes General Studies and Critical Thinking.
IBInternational Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 32 points overall, including 6,5,5 from three Higher Level subjects. This must include History at Higher Level.
BTECSee our detailed subject and grade requirements
Access HEWe consider applications from students with the Access to Higher Education Diploma. The minimum academic requirement is to achieve 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, of which 15 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. This must include at least 6 Level 3 credits in History modules at Distinction.
GCSEMinimum five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or 4.
EPQAlternative offers may be made to applicants taking the Extended Project Qualification.
Contextualised admissionsWe consider every application on its individual merits and will take into consideration your individual educational experiences and context. More information on how academic schools and programmes use this information as part of the admissions process, can be found on our contextualised admissions pages.

General Admissions Entry Requirements

English Language Proficiency

All applicants to QMUL must show they meet a minimum academic English language standard for admission and to be successful on the course, to the indicated levels for the area of study. See our guidance on English Language requirements for all degree programmes.

Vocational and Other Qualifications

The College accepts a wide range of qualifications such as Access and Foundation programmes, vocational awards, Irish Leaving Certificate, Scottish Highers and other Baccalaureates. You are advised to contact the Admissions team (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) before making an application so that we can give individual advice.

Admission is based on academic merit and on the proven ability of the applicant to achieve success on their chosen programme of study. Every application to Queen Mary is considered on its individual merits with personal statement and reference taken into consideration.

Combined Qualifications

If you are taking a combination of qualifications at Level 3, we will consider your academic profile and may make offers on a case-by-case basis. You are advised to contact the Admissions team (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) before making an application so that we can give individual advice.

Advanced Entry

Subject to the policy of the programme, it may be possible for students to join undergraduate degree programmes at the beginning of the second year of a three or four year degree programme or, sometimes, the beginning of the third year of a four year programme. Please note, not all schools will consider advanced entry. You are advised to contact the Admissions team (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) before making an application for individual advice.

If you are applying for advanced entry on the basis of a post A-Level qualification, such as the BTEC HND, you should apply via UCAS in the usual way. If you wish to transfer your degree studies from another UK higher education institution, you will be considered on the basis of your original A-Level or equivalent qualifications, current syllabus, academic references and results.

We typically expect you to have achieved a 2.1 standard on your current programme and have already met the standard equivalent first year entry requirements. Applications must be submitted via UCAS.

Non-UK students

European and International Applicants

Our students come from over 162 countries and we accept a wide range of European and International Qualifications for entry, in addition to A-Levels, the International Baccalaureate and BTEC qualifications. Please see our International Admissions webpages for further details of our academic requirements, and information regarding how we assess the equivalence of your qualification.

Applicants will typically be expected to be taking academic subjects relevant to the programme of study. You are advised to review the A-Level and IB requirements for an indication of these subjects. If you are at all unclear, the Admissions team (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) is happy to advise you further.

Further Information

For any other enquiries directly relating to our entry requirements, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5511
Email: admissions@qmul.ac.uk

See our information and guidance on how to apply.

Learning and teaching

Learning and Teaching:

Most modules are taught in a one-hour lecture followed by a one-hour seminar each week. All of our seminar-based classes are capped at 15 students. Some modules will include extended field trips such as visits to art galleries, museums, the Houses of Parliament and longer study visits, for example study visits to other cities. In your final year you will take a Special Subject that is taught as a two-hour-long seminar. Most students have eight hours of classes per week. This is supplemented by one-to-one discussions in staff office hours and feedback sessions.

Independent Study:

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete a further 2-3 hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


Assessment is typically by a mixture of examination and coursework, but some modules are assessed entirely on coursework. Coursework may take the form of essays, diaries, case-studies or book reviews. Some modules use screen or slide tests as part of their assessment. Oral presentations may also contribute to your overall mark. You will be provided with feedback to help you improve your performance and understanding of the subject. In the final year you will have the opportunity to work on a special subject research dissertation. These special subject modules are worth half your final year mark and allow you to work closely on primary source material and carry out your own research in a specialised area which particularly interests you.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full-time £9,250

Tuition fees for International students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full-time £15,400

You can either take out a Tuition Fee Loan (see Funding section below) to pay your fees or, if you are paying them yourself, you can pay in instalments.

Tuition fees for a year abroad or placement year on a full time undergraduate course will be a proportion of the full fee for the year in which you commence your time abroad or placement.

For information on field trip and other course related costs which are not included in your tuition fee, please contact the relevant Department/School.

See more general information about fees.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 7676
email: fees@qmul.ac.uk


Queen Mary has a substantial package of scholarships and bursaries which will benefit around 50 per cent of our undergraduate student body.

Scholarships and Bursaries available at Queen Mary for Home/EU Students

There are a number of scholarships and bursaries available each year for home students. Visit our Bursaries and Scholarships page for more information.

Visit our Advice and Counselling website for more information about financial support.

Scholarships available at Queen Mary for International Students

There are a number of Scholarships available each year for International Students including bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas.

Find out more about international scholarships.

Some International students may also be eligible for a fee reduction.

Loans and Grants available to help with tuition fees and living costs

Student Finance England administers all grant and loans for your studies if you normally live in England.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you have an equivalent Student Finance department for your region.

Through Student Finance England, you can apply for (figures relate to programmes starting from September 2016):

  • A Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000 to pay all or part of your fees
  • A Maintenance Loan of up to £10,702 to help pay your living costs like rent, food and travel
  • Extra grants if you have a disability or you have children or an adult dependant
  • You might get a grant to cover some travel expenses if you normally live in England but study away from home. If you’re a medical or dental student you might also qualify for help with the costs of attending clinical placements in the UK.

Visit Student Finance Information to find out more about:

  • How to apply for student finance
  • What eligibility rules apply, including if you already have a degree or previous higher education study
  • What the income thresholds are and how much you might personally get for each element of Student Finance
  • What to do if you have problems getting your Student Finance

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

  • Additional sources of funding
  • Planning your budget and cutting costs
  • Part-time and vacation work
  • Money for lone parents

For more information visit the Advice and Counselling service website, or call +44 (0)20 7882 8717.

Graduate employment

Graduates from Queen Mary’s BA History and Film Studies programme go on to work in a wide variety of careers spanning the media, government and politics, academia, business, finance, the charity sector and legal services.

The national 2014-15 destination survey confirmed that 93% of graduates from the School of History were in employment or study six months after graduation with 80% of this group already working or studying at graduate level. Graduates from Queen Mary’s School of History also have a strong earning power, with a median salary of £21,406.

The broad range of skills gained through programmes in the School, coupled with multiple opportunities for extra-curricular activities and work experience, have enabled students to move into careers and postgraduate study such as: 



Content Co-ordinator/Editor

Bank of England


Blackstock PR

Public Relations Policy Assistant


Market Researcher

Royal Albert Hall

Archives Assistant


Graduate Diploma in Law


MA Middle Eastern History


MSc International Relations

King’s College London

MA Cultural & Creative Industries


MA European History


We offer a series of workshops and events to help students to identify career options, train them in recruitment & selection methods and offer networking opportunities. These are tailored to the needs of students from History and will be run by the School’s Careers Consultant.
In the past year the programme included the History Futures day enabling students to explore a variety of careers in just one day.  In addition there are events and workshops throughout the year, such as those exploring careers in Journalism, Publishing and Teaching. Events planned will help students to explore careers in Law, Marketing and Public Affairs.

History students are be able to access dedicated Careers resources to build their career related knowledge of options and opportunities, or to develop their employability skill set.

Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages



Name: Rubina Nahar
Studying: History

Why did you choose History at QMUL?

I choose to read history at QM because of the modules available and the intellectual freedom we have as students here. The fact there’s only one compulsory module in the three years was a massive plus point. The academics at QM are some of the best in their field and the types of modules they offer is vast. From 20th Century German history to the Intellectual history – there’s something for everyone here.

Are there any modules that you have particularly enjoyed, and why?

My favourite modules from the past two years are Century of Extremes in German history and the American civil war. Both I took in second year. In the former module we were able to document the huge changes Germany undertook during the 1900s. From two world wars, collapse of the economy, rise and defeat of Nazism, genocide to reconstruction and reunification.  I particularly enjoyed the American civil war module due to the great historical debates surrounding the war. Why did war break out 1861? How influential was the collapse of the two-party system in the 1850s to the outbreak of war?

What do you enjoy about being a student here?

The freedom to choose pretty much anything I want to study (providing there aren’t any clashes!). The location of QM makes it easier being a student. We’re 10-15 minutes away from central London, so there’s always something to do. Also, being a part of the University of London enables us to have access to some world-class libraries such as the Senate House and the British library.

What is (or are) your favourite thing(s) about being based in the East End?

The culture of the East End is easily one of my favourite things. From food markets in Whitechapel and Spitalfields, to the galleries such as Whitechapel Gallery and the Rivington Place in Shoreditch.  


Name: Connie Farrell
Studying: History

Why did you choose History at QMUL?

The first thing that enticed me about Queen Mary was the wide range of modules available, the freedom to explore topics that I had never before considered studying and all alongside the leading researchers in their field. This, as well as the location of the campus so central to London made QM even more inviting. However it was during my first visit to the university that I was ultimately drawn to QMUL thanks to the immensely welcoming nature of everyone within the School of History. Through the interaction with both students and staff, and because of their passion not only for history but for history at Queen Mary, I felt that this was an environment in which I wanted to spend the next chapter of my life.

What do you enjoy most about your time at QMUL?

Immersing myself in the History Society has been one highlight of my student experience. It has given me the opportunity to meet like minded people and share our interests whilst in a more social environment,  (or even on a trip to Gdansk) which I think is necessary to balance alongside academic work.  That said, the academic speakers invited to talk to students, by both the History Society and the History Journal, spoke on topics that I was often unfamiliar with and so encouraged my interest to continually grow. One aspect of QMUL which has been most important to me is the close relationship between students and our lecturers and academic advisors, who take an honest interest in our student experience and offer their expertise and support wherever possible. 



Name: Beatriz Ungerer Dal Poz
Studied: BA Medieval History, graduated 2010

Currently: Viewing Assistant, Christie’s

How did you find out about your current job?
Through work experience at Christie’s. How did your time at Queen Mary prepare you for work? At Queen Mary I participated in so many different activities, from Freshers’ Crew to Student Representative and it was those opportunities that prepared me for work – not just this position but also any other position I might hold in the future.

What does your current job involve day-to-day?
There is no day-to-day! Every time I go into the South Kensington salesroom I do something different. If it is an auction day I might be telephone bidding with clients or working at the registration desk. If it’s not an auction day, I will be in the gallery helping clients with any queries they might have.

What are your most and least favourite aspects of your job?

My favourite aspect of my job is the incredible variety of objects which I have encountered, from an Enigma machine to a painting of Isabella of Castile. My least favourite aspect is that my working week isn’t Monday to Friday. I work most weekends – often my week starts on Friday and ends on Tuesday or Wednesday but that is the same in many galleries and other commercial spaces. You have to be prepared to be flexible.

What can current students do to prepare for getting a job in your area?
Do as many work placements as possible! It is important to experience the industry from many different perspectives, it will help narrow down what is interesting to you about the art industry – not all jobs at auctions houses are the same.

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