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History of Ideas (MA)

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  • Objectives
    How can we understand the ‘lived reality of ideas’, and how can the study of the history of ideas help us to interpret past societies and individual thinkers? Intellectual history is a dynamic and expanding field, and this new MA will enable you to pursue an exciting programme of study in the history of ideas and their context. If you want to explore the relationship between ideas and actions through a variety of historical periods and perspectives, then this is the degree for you. A wide range of options is offered, covering topics from classical antiquity to the present day. You will also take a compulsory core course, which aims to equip you with the conceptual background necessary for the study of the history of ideas. The core course explores the disciplinary boundaries between intellectual history, history of ideas, history of philosophy and cultural history. Finally, a dissertation gives you the chance to independently research a particular topic in depth.
  • Entry requirements
    Entry requirements At least a second-class honours degree (with good supporting references).
  • Academic Title
    History of Ideas (MA)
  • Course description
    The degree consists of three assessed elements: a compulsory 10-week core course, taught annually in the autumn term, with an additional research skills and method component; four option modules, each taught over 10 weeks (one term); and a dissertation due at the end of September of the final year of study. Longer options of 20-22 weeks can also be taken and are equivalent to two of the one-term options.

    Core course

    -Ideas, History, Transmission.


    -Ancient Political Thought and its Medieval Legacy
    -Islam and Politics
    -Magic, Science and Religion in the Renaissance
    -Popular Politics in Early Modern Italy
    -The Changing Shape of Knowledge, 1550–1750
    -From Warrior to Gentleman – French Nobles, 1560–1750
    -Power and Authority in Seventeenth-Century Britain
    -London and Berlin in the Age of Empire
    - The Condition of England Revisited – Social Change and Social Thought in -the Nineteenth Century
    -Russia in the Twentieth Century
    -Migration and Minorities in Twentieth-Century Asia
    -Empires in Modern East Asia
    -Freud and Psychoanalysis
    -Psychoanalysis and Facism
    -Atheology and Reason – The Use-Value of Georges Bataille
    -Underworld in US History
    -Immigration and British Society since 1945
    -The Rise of the Modern Consumer.
    -Please note: not all options are offered every year. You should confirm -module availability before enrolling.

    Teaching is normally by two-hour evening seminars with staff and student presentations, but sometimes lectures are also used.

    Core and option modules are assessed by essays of 4000–5000 words (five in total). Plus a dissertation of not more than 15,000 words.

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