Public History

The MA in Public History at Queen's offers a unique opportunity to study public representations of and engagement with the past in a region where the past continues to resonate in many ways. It is taught in collaboration with leading cultural institutions and heritage sites in Northern Ireland and with international partners to provide both a local and a global understanding of public history. The course combines academic training in historical theory and research methods with specialised topics related to history in the public sphere thus linking the analytical and critical approaches of traditional academic history with innovative ways of creating and disseminating histories for a diverse variety of public audiences.

Entry requirements

Entrance requirements
Normally a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Humanities or Arts subject or an acceptable cognate discipline.

Applicants who hold a 2.2 Honours degree in one of the disciplines specified above or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, who can demonstrate relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit for more information.

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

•Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level

•Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


1 year FT / 2 years PT.

Learning & Teaching
Learning and teaching takes place through seminars, practitioner workshops, field trips and placements.

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects
The Public History MA can be regarded either as an end in itself, culminating in the distinction of having obtained a postgraduate degree and enhanced your employability skills as a researcher, or as a stepping stone to the higher research degree of PhD. Many graduates have gone on to PhD programmes both at Queen's and other world-leading Universities. Others go into a wide variety of employment including careers in museums, archives or libraries; journalism or media related work; teaching; private and public administration; economic development and the voluntary sector.

Further enquiries

Dr Olwen Purdue, Lecturer History
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics - Lecturer
Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 3985

Subjects taught

Course Structure
The Public History strand consists of six taught modules and a dissertation.
Concepts in History
Students are introduced to themes in global and area-specific historical theory and practice. This includes topics such as memory, orality, public history and new cultural histories. We explore the
historiography of particular countries (Ireland, Britain and the United States) and the development of new trends in gender, religious and social history. Students write their coursework on a historiographical theme of particular interest to them.

History and Its Audiences, The Practice of Public History, and Contested Public Histories
Through a combination of seminars, practitioner workshops, field trips and site visits, these modules introduce students to the theory and practice of public history both in the context of Northern Ireland and in other national contexts. They are taught in collaboration with a range of industry partners, and with partner institutions in the US and the Republic of Ireland, and provide students with an opportunity to explore a range of issues relating to how history is presented to and consumed by public audiences, and better understand the challenges and opportunities of putting history to work in the public sphere

Documents and Sources
Students are given an opportunity to undertake practical work on a selection of primary sources. This can include the production of a calendar of previously uncatalogued documents, a finding aid to primary sources on a defined theme, or a database drawn from primary sources.

Placement module
Students take an 18-day placement in their choice of a range of cultural institutions, heritage sites and organisations. Internships have previously been carried out with the following: Armagh Public Library; Ballymoney Museum; BBC; Belfast City Council; Castle Leslie; Causeway Coast and Glens Museums Service; Doubleband Media; Hillsborough Castle (Historic Royal Palaces); Linen Hall Library; Mount Stewart (National Trust); Museum of Free Derry; Newry and Mourne Museum; Presbyterian Historical Society; Public Record Office of Northern Ireland; Servite Priory, Benburb; Special Collections (QUB); Titanic Foundation; Ulster American Folk Park; Ulster Museum; Ulster Rugby Museum and Education Centre

Students with the help of a supervisor will research and write a 20,000 word dissertation on a subject of their choice


Public History highlights
You will gain a rich understanding of the many ways in which history is put to work in the public sphere and the ways in which public audiences engage with, understand and use the past.

Industry Links
•Engagement with practitioners from museums, media, heritage sites and leading historic visitor attractions enables you to learn from the professionals, while the extended placement provides you with an opportunity for hands-on experience of working in a public history context.

Career Development
•Guaranteed work placement with a cultural institution or heritage organisation

World Class Facilities
•Studying Public History in Belfast also offers a unique insight into many of the key issues relating to contested histories, cultural memory, commemoration, identity, and community history in a very real and meaningful way, and to gain first-hand understanding of the relationship between public history, heritage, policy, and the consumption of history at a local and national level.

Internationally Renowned Experts
•Internationally-taught classes

Student Experience
•Close involvement of practitioners from a wide range of organisations in many aspects of the course including practitioner-led workshops

•Field trips across Northern Ireland

•Rich research culture and postgraduate community, involvement in the Centre for Public History at Queen's

Assessment method

Assessment is by coursework: essays, critical commentaries on primary sources; power point presentations; practical work on documents or placement related assessment; and a dissertation

Application date

Postgraduate Taught
Closing dates do apply for some of our courses, and details of these are available on our Course Finder. We advise you to apply as early as possible, particularly for those courses where there is a high demand for places. Early application is also important for international applicants to allow sufficient time to obtain a student entry visa.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. See application weblink below.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year: 2018

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