History is concerned with contested interpretations of the past and the nature of historical knowledge across diverse time periods and geographical regions. Queen’s historians engage with the methodological and theoretical approaches of historians from social, cultural, political, economic, and gender perspectives. Students encounter a diverse range of primary material, from memoirs and letters to oral history, photography, film and television.
By the end of their degree, we expect our students to become independent researchers, fluent communicators and skilled interpreters of complex data. In short, they develop the so-called ‘soft-skills’ that are so valued by graduate recruiters. This is reflected in our module design, which seriously considers the issue of employability and how we assist the Queen’s History undergraduate to build a narrative about their skills for prospective employers.
The undergraduate History programme at Queen’s offers students a wide choice of modules. Courses span a long chronological period from Ancient History through to the Contemporary History of the late twentieth century. The School has specialists in ancient, medieval, early modern and modern history. The modules on offer
to undergraduates also cover a wide geographical area that includes Ireland, England, Scotland, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
Students can choose modules that focus on gender, social and cultural history, colonial history, politics, religious and economic change.
Two second year modules serve as examples of our focus on skills and employability are;
- Students conduct oral history interviews
- Students receive academic training and BBC training
- Students work in small groups to develop potential radio documentary
- Students pitch ideas to BBC radio producers
An example outcome from this module is the BBC Radio documentary A diamond from the rough
Cabinets of curiosity: Museums past and present
- Combine work on the history of museums with hands-on experience of working in museum sector
- Work with museum curators to select objects
- Research the objects and prepare them for exhibition
- Tackle the challenging art of writing text for museum labels
- Build practical skills and contacts
- MA HISTORY
The MA History programme at Queen’s was redesigned in 2018, retaining all its existing strengths in an innovative package of modules that challenge students to develop their knowledge and skills. Modules are designed in a complementary fashion in order to develop the range of skills that employers expect from graduates from the best designed postgraduate taught programmes.
Students are taught by leading experts in:
- urban history
- women’s and gender history
- the history of religion
- political history
- the history of race
- ancient history
- medieval history
- early modern history
- modern history
- British history
- Irish history
- The USA
In 2018-19, Queen’s History revamped its MA level teaching to offer refreshed programmes. Our modules complement each other in order to develop knowledge and skills amongst students. This programme has been redesigned to enable students to build their own expertise across a range of modules that offer important methodological, theoretical and source-based training opportunities. An optional placement module is also available. Students may choose to develop a specialism in one of many chronological/regional areas (Africa, Asia, Britain, Europe, Ireland, Europe and the USA) or immerse themselves in a thematic approach that includes options such as urban history, women’s and gender history, the history of religion, political history, public history, and the history of race. Our diverse team of 32 staff offer a significant range of supervisory expertise.
- MA PUBLIC HISTORY
Through class seminars, field trips, practitioner workshops, and a guaranteed work placement, this Master’s degree course explores the multiple ways in which the past is represented to, and is understood and used by, a range of public audiences. It combines academic training in historical theory and research methods with specialised topics related to history in the public sphere such as museums, oral and digital history, contested or difficult histories and visual representations of the past.
The degree is taught by leading experts in a wide range of academic fields and methodological approaches and in collaboration with partners in the cultural and heritage sectors, offering unparalleled opportunities for hands-on experience of the ways in which history is created and presented in the public arena.
Students have taken placements with a wide variety of organisations and sites including;
- Armagh Public Library
- Doubleband Media
- Grand Opera House, Belfast
- Historic Royal Palaces (Hillsborough Castle)
- Lissan House, Cookstown
- National Trust (Castle Ward, Mount Stewart)
- Newry and Mourne Museum
- Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
- Special Collections at Queen’s
- Titanic Foundation
- Ulster-American Folk Park
- Ulster Museum
The Public History MA at Queen’s offers a unique opportunity to study public representations of and engagement with the past in a city where the past continues to resonate. Belfast offers an exciting opportunity to engage with key issues surrounding contested histories, national narratives, commemoration and community history in a very real and meaningful way. Furthermore, cultural tourism is an increasingly important part of the Northern Ireland economy, so students will be well-placed to gain first-hand understanding of the important ways in which public history can contribute to economic growth at a local and regional level. International perspectives will be gained through tutorials, guest lectures and classes run collaboratively with graduate programmes in the US.
Students will benefit from being part of the lively research and public engagement culture represented by the Centre for Public History at Queen’s, where academics are working on public history across many chronological periods and global contexts.
- POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH
History at Queen's is an excellent base for a wide range of postgraduate research projects leading to the degree of PhD.
The History PGR community of over 50 students is centred around our weekly research seminars, in which students present their own research in a programme which has also included historians from universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Georgia, Glasgow, Princeton, UCL, Trinity College Dublin, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Our postgraduate historians also present their work at conferences and seminars. Postgraduates within the School have published articles in the Historical Journal, Cultural and Social History, Scottish History Review, Irish Historical Studies, Journal of American Studies, History Workshop Journal and History Ireland amongst other publications.
Resources and Research Environment
Major research resources close at hand include the extensive collection of Irish manuscripts, books and pamphlets in the Queen's University Library's Special Collections. Our state of the art McClay Library has extensive book and journal holdings, and also subscribes to many of the principal online resources for historical study, including ECCO, EEBO, HCPP, etc.
The wide ranging collections of modern and older publications in Belfast's historic Linen Hall Library, the extensive manuscript holdings for Irish and British history at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and other local depositories are great resources. The nearby Gamble Library holds specialist collections in religious history and theology. The collections of the Irish National Archives and National Library of Ireland in Dublin are accessible via quite short and modestly priced bus journeys. Full-time postgraduate students within the School are guaranteed office space along with dedicated computing facilities. The postgraduate skills training programme for research students includes mentored employment as tutorial assistants. We are part of the AHRC Northern Bridge and the ESRC NINE doctoral training partnerships, both of which support postgraduate research and training.
The School boasts a number of regular research seminars. The Postgraduate Research Seminar, run by research students themselves, meets regularly throughout the academic year: speakers are drawn from our own postgraduate community and from other universities in Ireland and Britain. The Irish History Students’ Association, of which QUB is a founder member, holds an annual conference at which postgraduate students from across the island meet and read papers. Other regular seminar series are in religious studies, US history, Irish Studies, 18th-Century Studies, Medieval Studies and Postcolonial Studies. Queen's hosts regular meetings of the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies. Queen’s students also have the opportunity to attend rich variety of public lectures and research seminars available within the School and in other parts of the university, highlighted by our annual Wiles lecture series, delivered by a historian of global standing. Postgraduates thus have the opportunity to become fully part of a programme of active historical research in an atmosphere of wide ranging intellectual interchange and enquiry.
The best thing about studying history at QUB is the wide range of topics on offer. There are modules to accommodate everyone's interest and staff go out of their way to help you find something stimulating. Jack Crangle