Apply now to this course

The Institute of Historical Research’s MA in History, Place and Community is an exciting new programme (now in its second year of running) designed to be flexible and centred on your needs: whether you’re building the foundations for higher level research, looking to develop applied skills for your professional development, or simply interested in your own place and its history.

Today, the intersections between history, place and community have never been more visible in public discourse, heritage interpretation, conservation and policy. What does it mean to feel a sense of identity and commonality with a group or with a place? What are the bonds that link people as parts of a greater whole, and how are they created and perpetuated? How are communities imagined and what does it mean for those within them and outside? 

The MA encourages you to ask and answer these questions and can be adapted to allow you to draw upon wider scholarship to focus on your own particular favoured areas, localities or research topics. This flexibility in approach also extends to the structure and teaching format: the course is taught using a hybrid, blended approach, making the most of London where appropriate but also allowing for study at a distance, allowing you the maximum opportunity to fit study around your own circumstances and needs.

The independent study element of the course – taking place in term 3 for full-time students or term 6 for part-time – will see you choose between a 15,000-word dissertation, a placement with a partner organisation (of your choice, although the IHR can assist in finding suitable placements) of not fewer than eight weeks, or an 'alternative output', which might be a series of podcasts, a small exhibition or a set of interpretation panels, or a set of teaching materials, or something similar of your own devising; we are open to offers!

Positioned within the rich intellectual environment of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, the IHR is the perfect place in which to engage with localities and communities. Home to the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, the Victoria County History and the Layers of London project, the Institute boasts an unrivalled concentration of expertise in both urban and rural places, ranging widely beyond the usual boundaries of history as a discipline. The programme also takes advantage of the IHR’s unique location in the heart of London, and the opportunities for field trips, archive visits, and observation of the historic environment this presents.

NB, please note that acceptance onto the MA in History, Place & Community does not qualify for the purposes of making a UK student visa application; enquiries about flexible learning for international students are, however, welcome. 

Full details of the programme structure and modules are available on the course page

A number of bursaries are currently available for this course:

Two awards from the SAS Convocation Trust Bursary, each of £10,000.

One award from the British Friends of the IHR Bursary, offering a 50% reduction on fees for one student from the UK (i.e. paying Home fees);

Terms and conditions apply for each bursary. See the Institute of Historical Research MA Funding for further details. 

The deadline for bursary applications is 1 May 2024.

Message from the Programme Director

We have designed this programme to be a new and exciting way for students to explore those fundamental building blocks of human society and identity: communities, places and groups. The taught element will give you the firmest possible grounding in modern historical debates and methods, equipping you with all the skills and knowledge you need to establish yourself as a researcher in your chosen subject area. The degree culminates in either a dissertation or a placement, allowing you to craft your original contribution to historical understanding in whatever way suits both the material and you. With the help and support of our enthusiastic team of expert staff you will emerge as a seasoned historical researcher, ready to go on to further study or further explore your own amateur or professional historical interests.

Contact the Institute

Key Information

Degree overview

By the end of the programme, students will be able to:

            understand the complex and charged discourses around ‘community’ and ‘place’ and contribute to them with their own original research and analysis

            critically address problems in knowledge or understanding of historical places and communities, Identifying and selecting appropriate methods, tools and analytical frameworks to bring to bear upon them

            use a wide variety of scholarly tools and services to undertake independent historical research

            communicate research findings to academic and public audiences

            apply historical research skills in a variety of professional environments

            frame, plan and execute a substantial historical research project

The programme re-imagines postgraduate taught study for the post-Covid era, with an emphasis on flexibility, student-centred formats, wide geographical accessibility, and bespoke learning. From the start this course has been designed with flexibility in mind, with extensive use made of blended and online learning, and a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous teaching. We understand the need for study opportunities that allow students to combine the MA programme with other activities or employment, and we recognise that they will not always want to be present in London. Both full-time (one year) and part-time (two year) modes of study are available, allowing students to choose a level of commitment appropriate to their circumstances.

Modules and structure

The degree course consists of a total of seven modules: six twenty-credit taught modules and a final independent study module – either a dissertation or a placement – worth sixty credits. These can be taken full-time (one year) or part-time (two years) for a total of 180 credits.

Full time (one year)

Three core modules and three option modules chosen from a range of topics will be taken over the first two terms. In the final term students will either write a 15,000-word dissertation or undertake a placement on which they will write a 5,500-word report.

Part time (two years)

Year 1:  Thinking History core module and EITHER one other core module and an option module OR two option modules; in the third term, preparation for dissertation/placement

Year 2: EITHER two option modules OR one core module and one option module (depending upon modules taken in Year 1); dissertation or placement in the final term.

Core Modules (all students must complete all core modules)

Thinking History

Connecting History

Scoping and Planning

Option Modules (students must pick three modules from the following list)

Applied Public History

Connecting History

Historic Places: Landscapes, Buildings and Significance

Layers of London: Deep Mapping London’s History

Place and Policy

London History Summer School


In addition to the full MA, shorter qualifications are also available: a Postgraduate Certificate in History Place and Community (60 credits) and a Postgraduate Diploma in History Place and Community (120 credits).

About the Institute

The Institute of Historical Research is the UK's national centre for history, dedicated to supporting historians of all kinds. The IHR is dedicated to training the next generation of researchers, and to producing and facilitating ambitious, innovative historical research. Through our library, events programmes, seminars, fellowships, training and publications, we offer a wide range of services both onsite and remotely that facilitate excellence in historical research, teaching and scholarship in the UK.

Our academic staff produce world-leading research, conducting nationally-important projects and providing a remarkable range of expertise, with particular strengths in the history of Britain, its colonial involvement and the Commonwealth. A large body of senior and junior research fellows complements the staff and, alongside the institute’s substantial body of doctoral students, ensures a lively and thriving intellectual environment. Staff and students also take advantage of the seminar programmes and academic resources of the University of London colleges, the other institutes of the School of Advanced Study and the other internationally-renowned institutions of Bloomsbury, such as the British Library. Finally, we enjoy the unrivalled resources of the IHR Wohl Library, including its world-renowned collections in placed, place-based and local histories, as well as secondary materials around public history and historiography.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree from a British university, or an equivalent qualification from a foreign institution, in any discipline in the humanities which is related to the course. All students whose first language is not English must provide recent evidence that their written and spoken English is adequate for postgraduate study.

How to apply

For more information on how to apply, including deadlines and the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, visit our How to Apply page.”

Careers and further study

This programme is designed for those who wish to:

            develop a deeper, broader understanding of historical research – and/or build specific skills – to assist with their professional development (for example, those who work in the arts, in galleries, museums, archives and libraries, and heritage sectors) – there is a growing need for individuals and for institutions to develop research skills in history in many professional environments. The combined methodological and applied approaches adopted in this programme, together with the hybrid mode of instruction, provides appropriate professional training in the relevant areas.

            prepare for further study in history at PhD level – this programme builds a set of research practices and modes of critical thinking that will equip students to approach PhD study with confidence, tackling all of the key skills they will need to build a career in academia or historical research. This course provides students with the skills and awareness to construct and execute a convincing advanced research project at PhD level, and an experience and understanding of research and publishing environments to disseminate their research findings in academic and non-academic arenas. 

            explore their own personal interests in history at any stage in life - the programme is also designed for those who wish to pursue personal research interests through a taught programme of study. There is plenty of space for individuals to acquire skills to help them realise their personal research ambitions or to explore a diverse programme of study that seeks to ignite new thoughts and ideas.

The School of Advanced Study is a unique environment in which to study the humanities.  The School strives to reflect the latest developments in thinking across the humanities disciplines it supports and to ensure that its programmes reflect this.   We are also aware that the needs of our students are constantly changing.  With that in mind, the School continually reviews the its programmes and, as part of that process, reserves the right to alter or discontinue them. 

We assure you that we carry out these exercises at no detriment to any enrolled students. Students enrolled on any programme that we discontinue will be able to complete that programme within a reasonable timeframe and with all the necessary resources at their disposal. The School will communicate any anticipated changes with students as early as possible.