MA in History

The MA in History is innovative, creative, free-thinking, stimulating, diverse and challenging – everything that is distinctive about history at Goldsmiths.

About the department

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

The Department sometimes offers fee waiver bursaries for this programme.

See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Prof Jan Plamper
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

The Department of History’s approach is thematic and interdisciplinary, with staff expertise spanning the histories of Britain, East and West Europe, South Asia and Africa.

We are on the cutting-edge of our fields and the student-teacher ratio allows us to devote an unmatched amount of time to individual supervision.

Our focus is primary research and we encourage students to follow their own historical interests.

The MA in History aims to develop your research skills, and your understanding of key debates and methods in historiography.

In addition, it allows you to develop their specific subject interests through a range of option modules and the dissertation.

Consequently, in addition to the compulsory core module (Explorations and Debates) and the Research Skills modules, you choose two options, one of which, if you wish, can be from another department at Goldsmiths or from the wide-ranging intercollegiate list (a list of MA modules available at other colleges of the University of London).

You'll end the programme by writing a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of your own choice, based on primary research.

The process of writing the dissertation includes participating in organising, and presenting at, the department's dissertation conference.

What you study

  • Two compulsory modules, Explorations & Debates in History and Research Skills. Explorations and Debates investigates the ways historians have conceptualised and contested historical practice in the modern and early modern periods. Research Skills, develops expertise in a variety of methodologies including the use of oral, visual and material, as well as textual, sources.
  • Two thematic options, either both chosen from those offered by the Department, or one of the Departmental options and the other from another Goldsmiths’ Department, or one of the Departmental options and  the other from the list of 30+ options available each year in the History Departments of other colleges which participate in the University of London MA Intercollegiate Sharing Scheme.
  • Two History option modules that could include:
    -Ethnic Conflict and Reconciliation in Modern Europe
    -Italian Terrorism in the 20th Century
    -Islam and Christianity in Modern Africa
    -The History of Emotions
    -Visual Culture and Empire in Early Modern Venice
    -Religious and Political Controversies in Early Modern Europe
    -A Troubled Culture: Northern Ireland Since 1921
    -Life in the Trenches: Perspectives on British Military History, 1914-18
    -Medicine on the Silk Roads: Traditions and Transmissions
    -A History of Violence
  • A one-day, student-led, interdisciplinary research workshop to share ideas about projects and methodologies, and gain experience in event organisation.

Applying and entrance requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
  • The email address details of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference.
  • A personal statement. This can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online.
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory).

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for UK/EU students and international students. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Entrance requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a humanities or social science subject.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enroll and study on our programmes. 

Please check our English language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Get in touch via our online form


+44 (0)20 7919 7766

International (non-EU)

+44 (0)20 7919 7702

Our staff

Academic staff  (Teaching & Research)

Abse, Dr Toby
Modern Italian Labour History and Politics.

Djokic, Dr Dejan
Modern History of the Balkans.

Grayson, Professor Richard
Twentieth Century British and Irish History, with particular Interests in the First World War.

Hessayon, Dr Ariel
Early Modern Religion, Ideas, Politics, and Popular Culture.

Lambert, Ms Sarah
Medieval History, Gender Power Politics, Crusades.
and Ethnicity.

Lee, Dr Rebekah
Social and Cultural History of Contemporary Southern Africa.

Plamper, Prof Jan
Modern European and Russian History, Symbolic Politics and Visual History, History of Emotions.

Richmond, Dr Vivienne - Head of Department
19th Century British Dress, Death, Poverty, Gender, Philanthropy.

Stouraiti, Dr Anastasia
Cultural History of the Early Modern Mediterranean, Venice and its Empire, Early Modern Visual Culture.

Yoeli-Tlalim, Dr Ronit
Various Aspects of the History of Asian Medicine, Interactions between Medicine and Religion.

Wald, Dr Erica
Imperial, Social and Medical History.

Watson, Dr Alexander
Social, Cultural and Military History of Central Europe and Britain during the First World War.


Academic staff  (Teaching only)

Cartolano, Dr Antonio
Renaissance Italian History, Politics and Art.

Cecolin, Dr Alessandra
Islamic and Judaic shared History in Middle East, History of Political Zionism, History of National and Religious Identities living in the Middle East.

Deedman, Dr Cheryl
Nineteenth Century Literature, Popular Literature and Gender.

Jeater, Prof Diana
African History, specialising in gender, law and religion in southern Africa, with a particular focus on Zimbabwe

Kennedy, Dr Rosie
20th Century British Social and Cultural History, the First World War, History of Childhood, Children and War, Education.

King, Ms Vanessa
Medieval History: Minority Groups, Travel and Gender.

Mansfield, Dr Andrew
Early modern history, the history of political thought, intellectual history, Britain and France in the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries.

Price, Dr John
Modern British Social and Cultural History, Constructions of Heroism, and the History of Popular Protest.

Emeritus Professors

Alexander, Professor Sally
Modern British History, London History, the History of Psychoanalysis.

Keown, Professor Damien
The History and Philosophy of Buddhism in India, Buddhist Ethics.

Killingray, Professor David
19th - 20th Century Africa & Caribbean, the Black Diaspora, English Local History, Modern Church and Mission History.

Administrative staff

Martin, Ms Nevenka
Department Business Manager

House, Ms Rachel
Undergraduate Coordinator

Williams, Sue
Postgraduate Coordinator

Feurle, Ms Kerstin
Postgraduate Coordinator (currently on Maternity leave)

Other historians linked with the Department

Mazower, Professor Mark
Mark Mazower has been awarded honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) by Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is affiliated with the Goldsmiths Centre for the Study of the Balkans.

Modules and structure

Core modules

Code Module title Credits
HT71126A Explorations & Debates in History 30 credits

A one-term module which investigates the ways historians have conceptualised and contested historical practice in the modern and early modern periods.

Module convenor

Prof Jan Plamper (Autumn Term)


HT71110B Research Skills 30 credits

A one-term module that develops expertise in a variety of methodologies such as the use of oral, visual and material, as well as textual, sources.

Module convenor

Dr Antonio Cartolano (Autumn Term)

* Dissertation 60 credits

In addition to the two compulsory modules and the two options, you will submit a dissertation on a topic of your choice, agreed with your supervisor during the module of your programme of study. With guidance from your supervisor you will undertake independent research, using primary sources, and present the results of your research in a 10,000-word dissertation.

You will attend the departmental seminar series which runs on Wednesday afternoons during the Autumn and Spring terms and participate in a student-organised dissertation workshop. This is held at the end of the Summer term, preceding submission of the dissertation, and is an opportunity to share with your peers and tutors the results of your dissertation research.

Option modules

In addition to the two compulsory modules you will study two options. You may choose either both options from those offered by the Department of History at Goldsmiths, or one from the departmental MA options and the other either from another Goldsmiths’ department, or from a list of over thirty MA options offered by the history departments of other colleges which participate in the University of London MA intercollegiate Sharing Scheme.

The Department of History options encompass a diverse regional, conceptual and methodological range to investigate religious, cultural and political history in both the Western and non-Western world from the fifteenth century to the present. All options are based on the tutors’ current research.

Code Module title Credits
HT71122B Ethnic Conflict and Reconciliation in Modern Europe 30 credits*


The module explores the violent relationship between the nation and the state, focusing on attempts and failures during the 20th century to protect ethnic minorities against the majority populations. Efforts to achieve post-conflict justice and reconciliation will also be analysed. The module looks at Europe as a whole, but concentrates on its peripheries: the Balkans and the Near East, and East-Central Europe -- areas often ignored by scholars of modern European history. Key events studied will include: population movements during and in the aftermath of the two World Wars, including the Armenian genocide, the Greek-Turkish population exchange of the early 1920s, and the expulsion of ethnic Germans from East-Central Europe in the second half of the 1940s, and the Balkan and Yugoslav wars. Changing meaning(s) and political (mis)use of concepts such as ‘genocide’, 'holocaust', ‘population transfers’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ will be discussed throughout the module, as will questions concerning overcoming the past in post-conflict societies. There is no foreign language requirement for this module.

Learning Outcomes

The students will:

  • Explore history of the events studied and gain an understanding of key developments in the 20th century European history, some of which still shape the way we think about our recent past and present.
  • Gain knowledge and comprehension of theoretical issues and debates in modern European history.
  • Enhance the ability to frame an argument in a sustained manner. Arguments should be structured, coherent, relevant, concise, and should take into account all aspects of a given problem.
  • The module should also enable students to increase their understanding of historical argument and develop an ability to maintain critical distance from sources.
  • Enable students to develop a number of skills such as: self-direction and self-discipline; b) independence of mind and initiative; c) the ability to work with others and to have respect for the reasoned views of others; d) the ability to identify, gather, deploy and organize evidence, data and information, as well as familiarity with appropriate means of achieving this; e) analytical ability and the capacity to consider and solve problems, including complex ones; f) structure, clarity and fluency of expression, both written and oral; g) intellectual maturity, integrity, empathy and imaginative insight; h) ability to organize time, work and personal resources to optimal effect.

Introductory Reading

  • Norman Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe (Harvard UP, 2002) [recommended text book for the module]
  • Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (London, 1998)
  • Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (Cambridge UP, 2005)
  • Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 (London, 1995)
  • Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York, 1963)
  • Slavenka Drakulic, They Would Never Hurt a Fly: War Criminals on Trial in The Hague, (London, 2004)

Module convenor

Dr Dejan Djokic (Autumn Term)


HT71125B Italian Terrorism in the 20th Century 30 credits


This module will look at indigenous Italian terrorism of both the extreme left and extreme right, focusing on the period between 1968 and the early 1980s, in the context of broader social and political developments in the history of Italy. Some reference will also be made to the Italian anarchist terrorism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as an historical precedent and to the Italian Resistance of  1943-45, whose activities groups like the Red Brigades frequently evoked in their attempts to justify their own violent actions. Some attention will also be paid to the social and political movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this period a small minority of those involved in such movements gravitated towards leftwing terrorism, whilst rightwing terrorism was in  many ways a reaction against such movements, even if it had its own ideological roots in the Fascist Regime. Some brief comparison between the Red Brigades and the German leftwing terrorism of the Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof Gang) will be made, primarily to demonstrate that Italian terrorism had a wider social base than its German counterpart. The module will examine the work of historians, political scientists and sociologists, as well as autobiographical material from former terrorists, Italian films (subtitled) and television documentaries. No foreign language requirement.

Learning Outcomes

  • To introduce students to the historiographical, sociological and political debates about Italian terrorism in the 20th century.
  • To enable students to place Italian terrorism within the broader context of 20th century Italian politics, society and culture.
  • To allow students to make some comparisons between Italian terrorism and terrorism elsewhere in 20th century Europe, particularly Western European terrorist groups that emerged in the aftermath of the events of 1968.
  • To enable students to write creative and critical historical analysis and narrative.
  • To accustom students to the use of a wide variety of source material including films and documentaries as well as autobiographical texts.

Introductory Reading

  • Raimondo Catanzaro  (ed), The Red Brigades and Left wing Terrorism in Italy (London, 1991)
  • Robert C Meade, Jr, Red Brigades: The Story of Italian Terrorism (London, 1990)
  • Richard Drake, The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy (Indiana, 1989)
  • David Moss, The Politics of Left-wing Violence in Italy, 1969-85 (Basingstoke, 1989)

Module convenor

Dr Toby Abse (Autumn Term)


HT71105B Islam and Christianity in Modern Africa 30 credits*


This module examines the development of Islam and Christianity on the African continent. It focuses on how Africans received and transformed Islamic and Christian rituals and ideologies; the impact of colonial rule on African belief systems; the relationship between religious change and modernity in post-colonial Africa; and the history of conflict and coexistence between Islam and Christianity in African communities. We will explore Africans' experience of religion through examining issues of identity and social organisation, with a particular emphasis on the role of gender and race in these processes. We will examine missionary attempts to re-organise African households, women's participation in Christian mother's groups and burial societies, the experience of conversion, the recent explosion of Pentecostal Christianity, the effect of HIV/AIDS on cultures of death and dying, and the impact of international events on the spread of Islam in Africa. This module combines scholarship in history, religious studies and anthropology, and will use a variety of textual, visual and oral primary sources, including: missionary journals, photographs, youtube vidos and interview transcripts. There is no foreign language requirement for this module.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • understand the history of the development of Islam and Christianity in modern Africa
  • identify key ways in which Africans themselves constructed and adapted belief systems
  • consider ways in which the experience of colonialism affected African ritual and organisational life
  • understand key themes in the history of the relationship between Islam and Christianity on the African context
  • consider ways in which gender and race mediated Africans’ spiritual beliefs and practices
  • evaluate competing historical interpretations of religion in Africa
  • apply an historical understanding to analysis of present-day religious conflict in Africa
  • evaluate a range of primary sources on the history of religion in Africa

 Introductory reading

  • A. Hastings, The Church in Africa 1450-1950 (Oxford, 1995)
  • N. Levtzion and R.L. Pouwels (eds), The History of Islam in Africa (Ohio, 2000)
  • J. Blakeley et al (eds), Religion in Africa (Portsmouth, 1994)
  • J. Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (Cambridge, 1995)

Module convenor

Dr Rebekah Lee (Spring Term)

HT71131A The History of Emotions 30 credits


The history of emotions is a burgeoning field within the historical discipline—so much so, that some are invoking an ‘emotional turn’ or ‘affective turn’. The University of London’s own Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary is one of the many signs of the institutionalisation of the field. This module takes stock of what has been done so far and sketches where the history of emotions might head in the future. We will grapple with some of the complex questions that have defined the field—are emotions socially constructed or reducible to a universal biological substrate? Is there a set of ‘basic’ human emotions, such as anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise? What sources are available for the study of emotions in the past? How can historians factor in emotion as a cause motivating human action? In coming to terms with these questions, we will look to the existing history of emotions, including that of the French Annales school, Norbert Elias, Peter Stearns, William Reddy, and Barbara Rosenwein. And we will venture outside history proper and probe how other disciplines—especially cultural anthropology and life science, including the latest affective neuroscience—have dealt with these (and other) questions. We will also examine the links between the history of emotions field and the fields of gender history, transnational/postcolonial history, the history of science, media and visual studies, economic history, legal history, and more.
Seminar attendance is compulsory and students will be expected to read and prepare the material listed in the programme in advance of classes. Each student will be called upon to give a presentation to the class at least once during the term.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate understanding of an important dimension of Modern history and culture.
  • In addition, students will acquire knowledge of the relevant historiographical literature and be able to evaluate critically select primary written and visual sources of the period.
  • Students will also be given the opportunity both through coursework and a dissertation to form and present their own critical arguments. Guidance will be given to enable students to express their ideas in a clear and accessible prose style.
  • Students will acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of the various subjects to be investigated.
  • In addition, students will acquire a detailed knowledge of the relevant historiographical literature.
  • Moreover, students will develop their capacity for independent thought and ability to express ideas in a clear and accessible prose style, both in seminar presentations and essays.

Introductory Reading

  • Tim Dalgleish, Barnaby D. Dunn, Dean Mobbs, ‘Affective Neuroscience: Past, Present, and Future’, Emotion Review 1 (2009: 355-368)
  • Thomas Dixon, From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category, (CUP, 2003)
  • Otniel Dror, ‘The Affect of Experiment: The Turn to Emotions in Anglo-American Physiology, 1900-1940’, Isis 90 (1999: 205-237)
  • Ute Frevert, Emotions in History—Lost and Found, (Central European UP, 2011)
  • Catherine Lutz, Geoffrey M. White, ‘The Anthropology of Emotions’, Annual Review of Anthropology 15 (1986: 405-436)
  • Margot L. Lyon, ‘Missing Emotion: The Limitations of Cultural Constructionism in the Study of Emotion’, Cultural Anthropology 10 (1995: 244-263)
  • Jan Plamper, ‘The History of Emotions: An Interview with William Reddy, Barbara Rosenwein, and Peter Stearns’, History and Theory 49(2010: 237-265)
  • William Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions, (CUP, 2001)
  • Barbara Rosenwein, ‘Worrying about Emotions in History’, The American Historical Review 107 (2002: 821-845)
  • Barbara Rosenwein, Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages, (Cornell UP, 2006)

Module convenor

To be confirmed (Autumn Term)

HT71124B Visual Culture and Empire in Early Modern Venice 30 credits


This module investigates the connections between empire building and visual culture in Venice from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century. It examines both the ways in which trade and colonisation influenced Venetian artistic and cultural production and how images, texts and objects made empire visible at home ant motivated new imperial projects abroad. Through an interdisciplinary approach that combines cultural history, visual studies and postcolonial criticism, the module covers the following themes: representations of the Venetian 'State of the sea'; art and print culture in the Venetian-Ottoman wars; imperial ceremonies and rituals; colonial cartography; antiquarian collections; the Byzantine heritage; cross-cultural contacts with the Islamic world; early modern Orientalism. In discussing these themes, the module places metropolitan visual media and communication in the context of Venetian empire formation and treats the production and consumption of images as an integral part of Venice's commercial and political presence in the Mediterranean. There is no foreign language requirement for this module.

Learning Outcomes

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of the reciprocal relationships between metropolitan Venice and its overseas empire.
  • Increased awareness of the relevance of empire in the study of Venetian visual culture.
  • Comprehensive understanding of the role of images and visual artefacts in particular historical, geographical, cultural and socio-political contexts.
  • Heightened awareness of key methodologies and theoretical debates in the field of visual culture studies.
  • Ability to analyse and interpret visual documents in a creative and imaginative manner

Introductory Reading

  • Stefano Carboni (ed.), Venice and Islamic World, 828-1797, exhibition catalogue, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2007)
  • Maria Georgopoulou, Venice's Mediterranean Colonies: Architecture and Urbanism, (Cambridge UP, 2001)
  • Frederic C. Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic, (Baltimore & London, Johns Hopkins UP, 1973)
  • David Rosand, Myths of Venice. The Figuration of a State, (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2001)

Module convenor

Dr Antonio Cartolano (Spring Term)


HT71120B Religious and Political Controversies in Early Modern Europe 30 credits*


This module examines some of the central debates that pre-occupied early modern politicians, theologians, revolutionaries, scientists and philosophers alike.  Subjects to be investigated within this culture of disputation and investigation include: issues of sovereignty and the divine right of Kings; republicanism; natural rights; the nature of virtue; the authority of the Bible; religious doctrines; predestination; the role of the Church and the Pope; the nature of the body and the soul. Students will be introduced to a number of important primary sources ranging from political treatises and religious tracts to philosophical meditations.

Introductory reading

Secondary sources:

  • J.H.Burns and Mark Goldie (eds.) The Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450-1700 (Cambridge, 1991)
  • A.Pagden, The Language of Political Theory (Cambridge, 1987)
  • Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought (2 vols., Cambridge, 1978)
  • George Williams, The Radical Reformation (3rd edn., Ann Arbor, MI: Truman State University Press, 2000)

Primary sources:

  • Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)
  • Thomas More, Utopia (1516)

Module convenor

Dr Ariel Hessayon

HT71130A A Troubled Culture: Northern Ireland since 1921 30 credits*


This module examines the history of Northern Ireland since its creation as a state within the UK in 1921. There is a particular focus on the cultural dimension of political conflict through examination of the role of religion, sport, language and symbolism in society. The module also pays close attention to how contrasting memories of historical events are a factor in divisions in Northern Ireland society, and how memory of history is changing today. The module includes detailed consideration of the main events of the Troubles from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, and why/how the Troubles drew to a close. The module will use a wide range of traditional primary and secondary sources, but will also consider the oral history of the Troubles through recordings of victims’ accounts, and will focus on the symbolism of flags.

Learning Outcomes

  • A detailed knowledge of events in Northern Ireland politics since 1920.
  • The ability to understand events in Northern Ireland in a theoretical framework.
  • An in-depth understanding of political language, symbolism and identities in Northern Ireland, through examining the relationship between cultural identities and historical events.
  • The ability to interpret a wide range of sources available including texts, images and music, closely and critically.
  • Ability to write a creative and critical historical analysis and narrative.

Introductory Reading

  • Paul Bew, Ireland: the Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 (Oxford, 2007)
  • David McKittrick & David McVea, David, Making sense of the troubles (London, 2001)
  • Jonathan Tonge, Northern Ireland (London, 2005)

Module convenor

Professor Richard Grayson

HT71136A Life in the Trenches: Perspectives on British Military History, 1914-18 30 credits


Memories of the First World War remain strong, nearly a century after the war’s start, through the influence of popular culture. Images of slaughter, mud and poor leadership dominate a public view which thinks of the lucky few who came back, even though fatality rates were around 12% of those who served. This module is focused on the day-to-day experiences of soldiers in the British army, using battalion war diaries as the core sources.

These diaries record the detailed movements of battalions once they had finished training. They provide both much detail and often, vivid descriptions, with the main focus being on four Irish battalions (2nd and 9th Royal Irish Rifles, 6th Connaughts and 7th Leinsters) which are central to the module convenor’s book Belfast Boys. These diaries will be used as one way of judging the accuracy of popular memory of 1914-18, which is so deeply rooted in popular culture. In so doing, the module will also use poetry, film and individual diaries. A visit to the National Archive at Kew will be arranged to support primary research.

Learning Outcomes 

  • In-depth understanding of day-to-day conditions for the military and key events in the First World War
  • In-depth understanding of key academic debates affecting the experiences of the British army during the First World War
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of the structure of British military in the First World War, and key terms (including slang)
  • Understanding of how to use battalion war diaries as an historical source

Introductory Reading

  • Corrigan, Gordon, Mud, Blood and Poppycock (London: Cassell, 2003)
  • Fussell, Paul, The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975)
  • Gardner, Brian, ed., Up the Line to Death: The War Poets, 1914-1918 (London: Methuen, 1964)
  • Grayson, Richard S., Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War (London: Continuum, 2009). Paperback published in 2010.
  • Stevenson, David, 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (London: Penguin, 2012 edition)
  • Todman, Dan, The Great War: Myth and Memory (London: Continuum, 2005)
  • van Emden, Richard, ed., Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin (London: Bloomsbury, 2010)

Module convenor

Professor Richard Grayson

HT71134A Medicine on the Silk Roads: Traditions and Transmissions 30 credits


While history of medicine is usually taught focusing primarily on either ‘western’ or ‘eastern’ traditions, this module will focus on transmissions of knowledge along the Silk Roads. More than just routes on which missionaries, travellers and merchants moved between east and west Asia, the Silk Roads has become a metaphor of east-west connections.

This module will deal with Asian medical traditions as they are represented in manuscripts found in sites along the Silk-Roads, primarily the Dunhuang caves and Turfan. The discussion of these medical traditions will be contextualised within the multi-cultural aspects of the Silk-Roads and within processes of transmission of knowledge along the Silk Roads.

The module will also deal with the historical background leading to the discovery of the Silk Road sites and with how the internet is transforming research of the Silk Road. The primary sources used in this course will mostly consist of manuscripts found in Dunhuang (in translation from Chinese, Tibetan, Khotanese and Uighur) as well as visual material and artefacts from the Silk Roads. The texts and artefacts mostly date from the later centuries of the first millennium.

Learning Outcomes

  • In-depth understanding of the processes of transmission of knowledge along the Silk-Roads
  • In-depth understanding of the relations between Buddhism and medicine
  • An understanding of cultural exchanges  on the Silk-Roads
  • The ability to analyse a wide range of written and other primary sources from among the Silk-Road finds
  • The ability to make a lucid oral presentation employing a range of historical evidence
  • The ability to select a research topic, locate, analyse and employ as historical evidence relevant primary and secondary sources and produce a 5,000 word essay

Introductory Reading:

  • Hansen, Valerie, The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Hopkirk, Peter, Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Treasures of Central Asia (London: John Murray, 1980)
  • Jackson, Mark, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Lo, Vivienne and Cullen, Christopher, eds., Medieval Chinese Medicine: The Dunhuang Medical Manuscripts (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005)
  • Millward, James A, The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013
  • Yoeli-Tlalim, Ronit, “Re-visiting ‘Galen in Tibet’”, Medical History, 56:3, July 2012, pp. 355-365

Module convenor

Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim

HT71133A A History of Violence 30 credits


This module explores the history and historiography of violence, focusing especially, but not exclusively, on Europe between the medieval period and the present day.

It has two principal themes. First, it examines the recent, important debate on whether and why violence has declined in the past half millennium. Domestic violence and crime, terrorism, war and genocide will all be discussed. The role of religion and secular ideologies, concepts such as honour, and the growth of state power will be among the issues covered.

Second, the module investigates the methodologies that scholars have used to explain the causes of violence, the different forms in which it has been practised and its incidence in history. Students will study cultural histories of violence and will explore how disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, and more recently behavioural sciences such as psychology and neuroscience, have contributed to understanding of human violence in history.

Learning Outcomes

You will be able to:

  • Acquire an understanding of recent multidisciplinary debates on violence; its causes, forms and trajectory in history
  • Gain an appreciation of how historians can draw insights from and fruitfully collaborate with other disciplines, as well the problems and pitfalls of interdisciplinary methodology
  • Engage critically with historiography and develop skills of primary source analysis
  • Develop capacity for independent thought
  • Cultivate written and spoken argumentation skills

Introductory Reading 

  • Carroll, Stuart, ed., Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical Perspective (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
  • Ferguson, Niall, War of the World. History’s Age of Hatred (London: Allen Lane, 2006)
  • Kiernan, Ben, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 2007)
  • Miller, William Ian, Humiliation and Other Essays on Honour, Social Discomfort and Violence (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995)
  • Pinker, Steven, The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes (London: Allen Lane, 2011)
  • Spierenburg, Pieter, A History of Murder: Personal Violence in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present (Cambridge: Polity P., 2008)

Module convenor

Dr Alexander Watson

* Please note that these modules are not available for 2014-15

Due to staff research commitments not all of these modules are available every year.

Programme specification

To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download the programme specification.

Student and Graduate profiles


MA in Cultural History (now MA in History), graduated 2000

"Goldsmiths shifted my cultural and theoretical horizons."

I learnt a lot at Goldsmiths. Not only did I begin to understand how and why one should and could write politically engaged and culturally open histories, I also found out how British academics go about the things they are dealing with and why South East London is so fascinating and multifacetted.

Goldsmiths equipped me with the skills I needed to write a book on British history. Goldsmiths shifted my cultural and theoretical horizons. And Goldsmiths is the place where I met some of my dearest friends.  

I'm now a Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for the History of Emotions. I'm currently working on a project about homosexuality and emotional life in rural West Germany (1960-1990). Based on magazines as well as on oral history interviews I want to show how the emancipation of gay men and lesbians or the gradual normalisation of homosexualities since the 1970s impacted the ways in which women desiring women as well as men desiring men voiced, dealt with and experienced feelings like anger, love, grief and fear.

My previous book compared the legal and administrative handling of ethnically heterogeneous populations in the British and the Habsburg empires between 1867 and 1918. For this work I was recently awarded the Wolfgang J. Mommsen Prize. It will soon be translated into English.


MA in Cultural History (now MA in History)

"Having nearly finished the course I have found it has widened my ideas about what is and what isn’t History, and how it can be achieved. It has taught me that History is almost never 100% set in stone and is open to revision, reinterpretation and complete rewriting and that perhaps objective truth is a myth which can never be achieved by any historian."

Skills and Careers


The MA develops a range of transferable skills which are highly valued in the jobs market. These include advanced research and analytical expertise; increased independence of thought; the ability to marshal, evaluate and communicate, in written and oral form, complex information and ideas; project management; teamwork and workshop organisation.


The MA develops a range of transferable skills which are highly valued in the jobs market. These include advanced research and analytical expertise; increased independence of thought; the ability to marshal, evaluate and communicate, in written and oral form, complex information and ideas; project management; teamwork and workshop organisation.

Graduate students from the Department have continued to careers in museums and galleries, archives, journalism, charities, university and arts administration, local government and teaching as well as doctoral research.

Content last modified: 08 Apr 2015

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