About the course
This course is for you if you need to improve your English language skills and subject knowledge of history before going on to a Masters course. You improve your language fluency and academic vocabulary, develop your academic skills, and gain experience of western methods of teaching and learning so that you can progress onto a relevant Masters course in our Department of History.
At Essex, you can progress onto our MA History, MA History (Cultural and Social History Pathway), MA History (Local and Regional History Pathway), or MA History (Public History Pathway).
Our Essex Pathways Department offers some of the best routes for international students to enter higher education in the UK. Our innovative courses and programmes have proved very successful with international students and have also attracted UK students because of the distinctive learning environment we offer.
If you are an international student, you may find that the education system in the UK is slightly different from other countries and, sometimes, that the transition to the British system can be challenging. Our courses help you to settle in and adapt to life in the UK.
Alongside improving your academic English skills, you also gain knowledge of history and an understanding of the methods and techniques of the historical discipline.
Our Department of History has developed a strong research and teaching profile, with the majority of our research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). We provide you with opportunities to explore local history, and have strong links with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK.
Our expert staff
Our staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. Our flexible course is combined with a supportive structure which helps you to pursue the modules best-suited to your interests.
We take the time to get to know you as an individual, welcome you into our scholarly community, and value your views.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends
You can also take advantage of our excellent history facilities:
- We have several Special Collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library
- Access the UK Data Archive, a national service provider digital resources for historians, which is particularly strong in 19th and 20th-century economic and social history
- Attend an exciting programme of events
- Access a variety of textbooks and journals in our Albert Sloman Library which houses materials on Latin America, Russia and the US that are of national significance
Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.
Want to improve your English? Keen to practise your language skills? Revise your existing understanding of English grammar and vocabulary. Extend your knowledge of academic English. Learn to deliver an effective presentation and to communicate clearly in seminars or tutorials. Develop your independent enquiry and learning skills.
This module will illuminate everything you study in history. It encourages you to think about the many and diverse ways in which historians approach the writing of history. You’ll be introduced to important historical concepts that have shaped recent historical writing, such as microhistory, class, gender and race, or to an important historical theme, such as consumption, literary history and global history.
Now it’s time for a longer assignment. You will work with the support of your EAP lecturer to write a 2,500 word compare and contrast essay using academic sources. You will also develop your ability to give a presentation on an academic topic and develop your awareness of the reporting and referencing strategies needed to present a range of views while avoiding plagiarism.
Can you identify and deconstruct an argument? Or construct an argument? Build your critical thinking skills by examining the concepts involved. Learn to apply this reflection when critically evaluating work. Understand the language and discourse of academic writing, and the importance of critical thinking in an academic context.
What interests you? Undertake an in-depth investigation on a topic related to your course that you have chosen. Research, review and complete a 2,500-3,000 word assignment, that presents a balanced opinion while evaluating current knowledge. Deliver a presentation of your findings to the rest of your group.
This is a unique module that enables you understand the history, location, and architecture of Bourne Mill in Colchester in relation to the town’s history and the textile and grain trades. Consider how history is 'done' in various other, non-university settings, such as museums, historic buildings, and community history groups. Examine how histories are researched, written, archived and presented to public audiences.
You will look at the roles of women and men in early modern England between 1550 and 1750. In this period men were to rule and women were to be obedient to them. But the reality was often very different to this. The practical realities of economic life and the disruptions of Civil War and Reformation meant relations between women and men varied and adapted in a period of great cultural, political, economic, social, and religious change.
Brazil is a land of contrasts. It’s a country with extreme social inequality as well as having an amazing capacity to integrate different cultures. Today it is asserting itself as a key player in international politics. You’ll receive an introduction to the political and social history of the Brazilian Republic from the overthrow of the Empire (1889) to the democratic transition following the military dictatorship (1964-85). The main focus of this module will be on the social movements in this period.
Where there was slavery, there was resistance. In most cases, the resistance was covert, but instances of open rebellion were surprisingly common. In this module you’ll examine the phenomenon of slave resistance in the Atlantic World from ca. 1522 (the first recorded rebellion by enslaved Africans in the Americas) to 1888, when slavery was finally abolished in Brazil.
Explore the encounters of Chinese with 'the world' both at home and abroad through the tumultuous 19th century. Learn about how and why China opened up to foreign influence, and about the possibilities and upheavals that this generated. You will develop an appreciation of China's present day engagement with the rest of the world and its contemporary transformation into an economic giant.
Colchester is a place where history and heritage matter and it brands itself as 'Britain's oldest recorded town'. Camulodunum was the Roman capital of Britain; it accumulated great wealth during the Middle Ages; was a hotbed of religious radicalism throughout the early modern period; suffered a siege during the English Civil War; and was changed fundamentally in the 19th century. Not only will you explore the town's history, you’ll also be involved in a research project creating a historical atlas and will gain a wide range of digital and heritage skills.
In this module you’ll explore the shifting meanings of the natural and supernatural worlds during a period that encompassed three major shifts in intellectual outlook during the early modern period in Europe: the Reformation, Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment. You’ll look at the way in which early modern people understood the boundaries between human and animal, body and soul, life and death, science and religion, and reality and imagination.
The early modern British Isles were home to four, or even five, nations, six languages, and peoples with vastly differing cultures. You examine the clashes between these different cultures and their hostile perceptions of each other, the different languages and why some survived whilst others disappeared, the conceptions of honour and status, the different ways of maintaining law and order, and the basic social unit of the early modern British Isles: the family.
Historians have long debated whether there was a 'consensus' between the main political parties after the Second World War. This module examines the idea of the 'consensus' and its impact on the British people, exploring the inter-relations between the state, citizens and the broader culture of post-war Britain. You’ll learn about the nature of culture and society in a country experiencing enormous change.
In the late 19th century, Great Britain was the world's leading power and the 'workshop of the world'. By the time of the Second World War, the United States was dominant in both political and economic terms. After a discussion of the forging of the idea of this 'special relationship' during the Second World War, you will examine the nature and the degree of co-operation and tension between the two countries up to the modern day.
You explore the relationship between cinema and society in Britain from the interwar depression, through the Second World War and the onset of affluence and mass-consumerism in the 1950s and 60s, to the rise of Thatcherism and the collapse of the 'post-war settlement'. You examine classes and cultures in relation to the lived history of the period, in order to track what they both reveal and conceal about the historical processes which transformed Britain during the 20th century.
In this module you’ll focus on witchcraft beliefs and witch-hunts (the legal prosecutions of individuals for the crime of witchcraft) in Europe and New England between the 15th and 18th centuries. You examine beliefs about witches, witchcraft, and the powers of the Devil at both elite and popular levels, set in the wider context of the religious/magical world-view of the period.
You will study European medicine from the decline of Galenism to the brink of germ theory, and explore the major changes in medical thinking during this period. Gain an understanding of the differences and similarities between Britain and France, especially when considering the "birth of the clinic" around 1800. You also investigate the changing character of doctor-patient relations, the rise of the man-midwife and the politics of medical professionalisation.
What were local communities like in the 19th century? How was life structured? What changes were they undergoing? This module focuses on the study of communities, both urban and rural, in England and Wales. You’ll examine aspects of community life through selected sources, including census material, digital databases, parish registers, trade directories, enclosure awards, tithe apportionments, Poor Law and charity records, newspapers, and housing records.
Explore the history of US slavery with attention to its development as a particularly Southern institution between the Colonial period and the end of the Civil War. Central topics and themes include: enslaved African life; culture and society; Southern-ness and racial identity; free African Americans; gender, sexuality, and slavery; economics, ideology and slavery; resistance and narratives of the enslaved; opposition to, and the demise of, slavery.
Explore the historical grounding of human rights by examining its origins from the 15th to the 20th century. You’ll study the practice and theory of torture, the definition of man and beast, slavery and the rights of the free man, the persecution and judicial treatment of deviance and witchcraft, the interference of Church and State in the freedom of expression, the international attempts at the definition and enforcement of rights, and much more.
Discover how South Africa took the 'apartheid turn' and how the country had long been on a road of increasing racial discrimination. You will study the historical experience of South Africa from the late-19th to the mid-20th century. Gain a thorough understanding of the historical forces and struggles which gave rise to the segregationist state. This module aims to overturn common assumptions about South Africa.
Between 1700 and 1900 England underwent extraordinary economic and social transformation, which has long been associated with 'the rise of the novel'. You’ll discover debates about the historical use of the novel by investigating a variety of sources that test our understanding of literary production, circulation and reception, and the nature of social representation. You’ll be introduced to debates about 'industrial revolution', 'a consumer society', 'the long eighteenth-century', 'luxury', 'the standard of living' and a broad consideration of the 'condition of England'.
Policing activities are essential for any state and offer an insight into the relationship between state and society. This module explores police activities between state protection and social control in 20th century-Europe. You’ll examine the relations between the state, the police and the public tracing continuities and differences in policing dictatorships and democracies.
During the 1640s England was engulfed in a destructive and transformative civil war that mobilised roughly one quarter of the English male population in military service and resulted in the overthrow, trial and execution of King Charles I. You’ll explore the causes of the war and its effects, and will investigate how developments in Scotland and Ireland as well as England and Wales are crucial to understanding the origins and progress of conflict. Your main focus will be on the cultural and social impact of war in England.
Britain underwent profound transformations between 1830 and 1950. It became the first indisputably modern, industrial capitalist society in the world. Not only was the environment turned upside down, but the lives and identities of the British people were altered fundamentally. You’ll explore this process in a thematic as well as a chronological manner, and study labour, class, gender, the state, democracy, imperialism, culture, and poverty.
In this module you study the history of English criminal justice, and to a lesser extent that of France and Germany as well. Gain an insight into the evolution of prosecuting, the function of criminal courts, the differences social status and gender made, and the changing practices in policing, prosecuting, trying, pardoning and punishing. Throughout the module you will be concerned with questions of historical causation, and with the political and ideological contexts of criminal justice.
Understand the events in Soviet history which led to the collapse of Socialism and analyse how the Soviet state moulded the mentality of its people, looking closely at the effects this had on the stability of the USSR. You will understand the reasons that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the processes that are shaping authoritarian states, past and present. Examine its role in the world and its impact on people's self-identification.
Film shapes the views of more people regarding the past than any other medium. This is particularly true for early modern England, which has been a popular subject area for filmmakers. You’ll examine and analyse popular films dealing with England from the reigns of Henry VIII to Charles II, which were made from 1933 until the present. This module seeks to study the films as representations of the past, in the same way that historical novels, dramas and paintings are representations of the past.
The majority of the 12 million enslaved Africans deported to the Americas during the 16th to the 19th centuries ended up working on plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. Sugar, cacao, indigo, tobacco, cotton and coffee were the main commodities produced for the rapidly expanding European markets. Slavery in the Americas contributed to the making of the modern world. You’ll examine the different plantation societies in Brazil, British Jamaica, the French Caribbean, and the Spanish colonies (Venezuela and Cuba).
From the mid-18th century on, the Indian Ocean world witnessed a series of convulsive transformations. How did this period of drastic historical change affect the merchants, coolies, peddlers, pirates and pilgrims who traditionally moved across this ocean and depended upon it for their livelihoods? You’ll be introduced to the history of globalisation in a new historical arena, and you’ll be encouraged to explore the experiences of a range of people whose lives were shaped by rapidly-changing seas.
Gain a detained insight into the history of sexuality in the United States from the colonial period to the present, with an emphasis on women. You will understand how the social construction of sexuality changed throughout time. Although women's historical experiences are positioned as central to this module, you also investigate concepts of masculinity and manhood. In addition to gender, race, class, free/un-free status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and the body, are crucial sites of analysis.
This module explores the cultural experience of urban life in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. From the late-19th century Germany's cities (and above all Berlin) became synonymous with social and political change, cultural and sexual experiments, becoming also arenas for technological innovation in work and domestic life. Topics covered range from problems of poor housing conditions to the portrayal of city life in arts, literature and films.
Gain an in-depth understanding of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War and the profound impact this conflict had on American politics and political culture. You’ll examine the history of the war and will focus on the different ways in which the war has been understood. The module encompasses not just international and military, but also cultural, history. Combining these approaches will help you understand the enormous effect that the war has had on American public life.
- Your teaching consists of interactive classes, workshops and tutorials
- There will be an emphasis on learner independence, peer- and self-assessment
- You will also have the opportunity to attend seminars organised by our Department of Language and Linguistics
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, in-class tests and individual oral presentations
- You may be required to sit exams during the third term of your academic year
UK entry requirements
This course is not available to UK applicants.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
IELTS 5.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing email@example.com and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.