MA Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History

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Course overview

  • 2024
  • 2025
  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • Sep, 1 Year
  • Sep, 2 Years
  • Sep, 6 Months
  • Sep, 1 Year
  • Sep, 2 Years
  • Research
  • Research
  • Research
  • Research
  • Master of Arts by Research
  • Master of Arts by Research
  • Master of Arts by Research
  • Master of Arts by Research
  • £10,300
  • From £5,150 per year*
  • £3,433
  • £10,300
  • From £5,150 per year*
  • £16,480
  • From £8,240 per year*
  • £5,493
  • £16,480
  • From £8,240 per year*
  • London
  • London
  • London
  • London
  • Upcoming events

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    About the course

    In a world of uncertainty and rapid change it is more important than ever to study why and how wars are fought. The University of Buckingham’s highly-regarded Master’s degree in Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History is based in London and provides students with an opportunity to pursue in-depth research into the topic of their choice under expert supervision.

    The one-year (two years part time) programme starts in September with an ‘Induction and Research Skills Day’ and culminates, after a period of supervised research, with the submission of a dissertation. During their time of study, candidates are expected to attend both a series of evening seminars held at the Army and Navy Club, Pall Mall, at which some of the most eminent names in the field present papers, and in-depth course Study Day at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This series of talks examines a range of historical subjects as well as those issues affecting modern defence in all dimensions.

    For serving members of the British Armed Forces (regardless of rank) there is a discount on fees of 20%.

    A six-month-long variant of this course is also available to all those who have attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course (or its international equivalent).

    Individual research topics are closely focused; but the approach of the course is to encourage students to investigate the interconnections between the country house’s multiple facets and roles, rather than to examine it in exclusively architectural-historical terms. Recent dissertations have surveyed, for example, the Baroque mural in country house decoration; the use of music in the country houses during the 1650s; and the professionalisation of the sale of country estates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The choice of subject area is ultimately the student’s own.

    The Master’s degree can be taken either full-time and completed in a single academic year, or taken part-time and extended over two years. Although original research it the prime focus of the programme, there is also a strongly collegial aspect to the course, as all research students meet regularly throughout the year for a series of early-evening seminars by some of the most distinguished scholars working in the history of early-modern England. The seminars are held in the Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall, London, SW1, and provide an opportunity for students to meet and debate with the visiting speaker. Each seminar is followed by a working dinner at which discussion continues. (The full seminar programme is given below.)

    The MA is awarded solely on the basis of the dissertation (there are no ‘exams’), and the relationship between the student and supervisor is therefore at the heart of the course.
    The maximum length for the MA dissertation in the School of Humanities is 25,000 words (or approximately 75 pages at line-spacing of 1.5), excluding notes and references. Student and supervisor meet regularly on a one-to-one basis to discuss, plan, and review the dissertation as it develops through the year.

    The University of Buckingham MA programmes are intended to impart all the skills necessary for the student to work as an independent researcher and writer – skills that are valued by both academic and non-academic employers.

    Tutorials and classes will normally take place at the University of Buckingham’s London offices at 51 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, WC1E 6HJ, very close to the British Museum.

    View the Modern War Studies prospectus

    DEFINING A SUBJECT FOR RESEARCH

    Some students know from the outset the precise subject on which they intend to work. For most, however, the definition of a research proposal is usually a gradual process, with the student starting with a general area of interest, and then focusing on a more closely defined topic as a result of further reading and consultation, usually with the Course Director. Most students do not arrive at the final title of their dissertation until towards the end of the first Term, before Christmas.

    For Master’s degree candidates, the core of the programme is the writing, under supervision, of the dissertation on a subject chosen by the student in the field of Modern War Studies. Subject to approval by the Course Director, the topic to be examined in the dissertation can address any aspect of warfare since 1945, and the precise topic is usually formulated in a process of discussion with the Course Director and the student’s supervisor. Research does not have to be confined to British-related subjects. Some of the themes which students may wish to examine include: political decision making; alliances; warfare and faith; the impact of critical strategic thinkers; intelligence gathering; the impact of technology on the battlefield; the development of doctrine; military-media relations; leadership; command and control; the application of force at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of war on land, sea and air; and the influence of war on non-combatants, politics, society, economies and cultures.

    Current dissertation titles in progress include:

    • Millennials and Western Militaries: Leadership Challenges for Generational Integration, 2002 to Present
    • Justifying War: George Bush Jr, Tony Blair and the Decision to Invade Iraq, 2003
    • The Role, Performance and Influence of the Canadian Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV III) in Afghanistan, 2001-2014
    • The Art of Precision: Strategic Bombing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
    • Leading the Digital War: Army Officer Competencies and Hyper-Warfare
    • Strategy, Power and Change: The Fall of the Dutch East Indies, 1945-1950
    • Contextual Adaptation: the US Maneouvrist Approach since 1991
    • Moral Courage: Western Armies and the Application of Intelligent Disobedience, 1969-1982
    • Poison Chalice: The Transition of the Nigerian Armed Forces since 2010
    • Ultimate Impact: Israeli Airpower during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and its Influence on NATO
    • Tomorrow’s Army Today: The British Army Officer Recruitment Pipeline in the Twenty-First Century
    • Ethics and the Air War Against the Islamic State: The RAF’s Airstrikes During Operation Shader, December 2015
    • Post -War Air-Land Integration and the Evolution of Doctrine, 1960-1990
    • A General’s Prestige: Douglas MacArthur’s Character and Leadership Styles During the Korean War, 1950-53
    • Quo Vadis Bundeswehr? Re-Appraising the Post-Cold War History of the German Armed Forces from a Perspective of Collective and National Defence, 1989-2020

    The Course Director, Professor Lloyd Clark, is available to offer advice to prospective students who would like to discuss possible subjects for their research before they apply. He can be reached directly by email at lloyd.clark@buckingham.ac.uk

    RESEARCH SEMINARS AND DINING

    Private research and supervisions are complemented by a rich programme of seminars which give students direct access to some of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished figures in the worlds of defence, military history, and war studies. The seminar meets at the Army and Navy Club, 36-39 Pall Mall, St James’s, London SW1Y 5JN (see below for further details).

    All seminars begin at 6:00 pm with the talk by the visiting speaker, and this is followed by a question session and discussion. There is then a short break for pre-dinner drinks and the group reconvenes for a three-course dinner with wine, during which the historical discussion continues. Proceedings usually end at 10 pm. The programme aims not only to offer a stimulating intellectual experience, but one which is an enjoyable sociable experience as well. The cost of the dinners is included in the tuition fees.

    The seminars are of course academic events, with a talk by a visiting expert; but they also have a social dimension, bringing research students and senior scholars together to discuss matters of common interest in an informal and congenial atmosphere.

    SEMINAR DATES AND VENUES FOR 2024-25

    The location, unless otherwise stated, is the Army and Navy Club, 36-39 Pall Mall, St James’s, London SW1Y 5JN.

    Saturday 28 September 2024,10 am-4 pm
    Course Induction Day at the University of Buckingham’s London offices, 51 Gower Street, London WC1E

    23 October 2024
    John Foreman CBE ‘The UK Defence Attaché’s View from Moscow, 2019-22’ (Former Defence Attaché in Kyiv and Moscow)

    Monday 4 November 2024, 10 am-5 pm
    Faculty Induction Day and Introduction to Research Skills at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BE

    20 November 2024
    Admiral the Lord West ‘The UK’s Nuclear Endeavours since 1940’ (Former First Sea Lord and Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office)

    9 February 2025
    General Sir Nick Carter ‘British Defence in Dangerous Times: An Assessment’ (Former Chief of the Defence Staff)

    19 March 2025
    Dr Thomas Colley ‘New Wars: How Governments are Battling to Shape Reality’ (Department of War Studies, King’s College London)

    9 April 2025
    Professor Lloyd Clark ‘Mission Command and Warfighting: Rethinking Old Ideas’ (Professorial Research Fellow in Modern War Studies, The University of Buckingham)

    23 April 2025
    Dr Daniel Packham ‘Compulsory Military Service in the Modern Age: Selective Conscription in the Nordics’ (Swedish Defence University)

    STUDY DAY AT THE ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY SANDHURST

    The speaker programme concludes with a Study Day at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Camberley, Surrey GU15 4PQ, on Saturday 17 May 2025. The programme includes:

    Professor Tom Dyson: ‘A Revolution in Military Lesson Learning? Good Practices from NATO and Ukraine’ (Royal Holloway College, University of London)

    Dr Matthew Powell: ‘The Rise of Multi-National Defence Procurement in the 21st Century’ (RAF College Cranwell and University of Portsmouth)

    Dr Jonathan Carroll: ‘Challenging our Assumptions: The Spectre of Somalia in the 1990s’ (Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst)

    WO1 Sarah Cox: In conversation with Professor Lloyd Clark (Command Sergeant Major, Home Command)

    STUDY PERIOD

    The usual period of Master’s degree research is one year for the those who engage in full-time study. Part-time study is also available, with students completing the dissertation in two years.

    RESEARCH SUPERVISION

    Every Master’s student in School of Humanities is supported by two supervisors. There is a First (or Principal) Supervisor, who is the student’s regular guide during his or her research, and with whom the student meets regularly throughout the year. There is also a Second Supervisor, whom the student may consult on a more limited basis where a ‘second opinion’ on a particular draft chapter may be helpful. Full-time students see their supervisor for one-to-one supervisions not less than twice a term.

    The University has an extensive group of scholars available to undertake supervision in the fields Modern War Studies, including:

    Dr Andrew Boyd – Twentieth-century naval history and new security challenges

    Dr Jonathan Carroll – The history of US Armed Forces; the Vietnam War; the War on Terror

    Professor Lloyd Clark – History of the British Army; military transition and change; lesson learning; leadership and command

    Dr Thomas Colley – War and the media; the Russia-Ukraine War

    Dr Aaron Edwards – Insurgency and COIN; terrorism

    Dr Andrew Lownie – Modern British history and espionage

    Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice – War and human rights law

    Dr Matthew Powell – The history and application of air power; defence procurement

    Dr Ife Oakafor-Yarwood – Multidisciplinary approaches to security, the environment and maritime governance in Africa

    Dr Gareth Price – Strategy, armed forces, politics and economics in south Asia

    Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Christopher Pugsley – The military history of the Australian and New Zealand armed forces

    Major General (retd) William Robbins – Command, leadership and organisational culture.

    Professor Matthias Strohn – History of European armies; fighting methods; doctrine and command, counter-insurgency.

    Dr Andrew Tchie – Security, stabilisation and peace operations in Africa

    Dr Paddy Walker – Future warfare rules; military ethics; military technology

    ASSOCIATE STUDENTS

    For those who wish to attend the seminars and to join the post-seminar dinners with the visiting speakers, it is possible to join the programme as an Associate Student (what is known as an Audit Student in the United States). Associate Students do not enrol for the MA and do not have to submit any written work, but they are otherwise full members of the seminar and free to take part in discussion. There is also a substantially reduced fee.

    For further information, please contact humanitiespg-admissions@buckingham.ac.uk

    WHAT OUR STUDENTS SAY

    “The Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History MA (Research) combines engaging course sessions with a focus on one’s own research project. There are copious opportunities to engage with expert guest speakers drawn from academia, the armed forces and the defence sector. Equally important are the academic advisors and course staff, who are constantly available to provide their guidance and input. Due to the excellent study support, I would highly recommend the programme to anyone who wants to improve their academic skills, advance their career, or simply explore key topics in this amazingly broad field.” – Nicolas Leixner, MA student

    “I am currently a final year student on the Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History PhD programme, but I started my journey on the MA (Research) course which provided me with the skills to conduct independent research. Expert supervision and one-to-one tutorials developed my ability to developing thinking skills, refine my knowledge and to develop my project in a coherent manner. The course seminars also gave me the opportunity to speak with leading figures in the field, including former British Chief of Defence Staff, General the Lord Richards. The opportunity to interact with the experts whose books I had read and whose achievements are of historical and academic significance, was a fascinating experience and improved by ability analyse important issues. These skills not only led to me gaining an MA, but also helped me as a serving officer and allowed me to operate more confidently in multinational and inter agency environments while encouraging me to write three small books. The programme is highly recommended.” – Mohamed Marwa, MA 2019 and currently on the PhD Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History programme

    Ministry of Defence Enhanced Learning Credits

    Approved by MOD for Enhanced Learning Credits.

    Provider ID 1460

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    Entry requirements

    The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:

    • a first or upper second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
    • a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience.

    In cases where candidates are applying on the basis of work experience, they will be asked to attend an interview as part of the application process; in some cases, they may also be asked to produce a short sample of written work.

    MATURE STUDENTS

    Age is no barrier to learning and we welcome all applications from suitably qualified students. Due to their flexibility, our London-based MAs by research attract a wide variety of applicants from a range of backgrounds, including people in full-time employment and retirees. Our current students range in age from 21 to 75.

    INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

    We are happy to consider all international applications and if you are an international student, you may find it useful to visit our international pages for details of entry requirements from your home country.

    The University is a UKVI Student Sponsor.

    English Levels

    If English is not your first language, please check our postgraduate English language requirements. If your English levels don’t meet our minimum requirements, you may be interested in applying for our Pre-sessional English Language Foundation Programmes.

    SELECTION PROCESS

    Candidates apply online, sending in their supporting documents, and will be assessed on this basis by the Programme Director. The Programme Director or Admissions Assistant will be happy to answer any enquiries. Call us on +44 (0)1280 820227 or get in touch via our online form.

    STUDENT CONTRACT FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

    When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the student contract between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the student contract in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the student contract contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting an offer. Read the Student Contract.

    Teaching and assessment

    The MA does not offer systematic instruction in factual knowledge; instead, the emphasis is on independent thought and research.

    At the heart of the Buckingham Master’s degree is the close working relationship between student and supervisor. While the final thesis must be an independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the final text (which should be not less than 25,000 words).

    Supervisors and students meet regularly throughout the year, and not less than twice in each of the academic year’s four terms; and the supervisor is the student’s primary contact for academic advice and support.

    After your course

    Many of the University’s research students have gone on to publish their MA or PhD dissertations, either in book-form or as articles in learned journals. The skills of authorship are one of the numerous ‘transferable skills’ that students acquire through the programme. The academic staff are available to offer advice on the process of preparing their work for publication.

    The University’s Course Directors, students’ supervisors, and the Research Officer and Tutor for Graduate Students are available to discuss students’ post-graduation plans and how they may utilise most effectively the skills acquired during their studies.

    Course fees

    The fees for this course are:

    StartType1st YearTotal cost
    Month Year
    Full-time (2 Years)
    UK£00,000£00,000
    INT£00,000£00,000
    Month Year
    Full-time (2 Years)
    UK£00,000£00,000
    INT£00,000£00,000

    The University reserves the right to increase course fees annually in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI). If the University intends to increase your course fees it will notify you via email of this as soon as reasonably practicable.

    Course fees do not include additional costs such as books, equipment, writing up fees and other ancillary charges. Where applicable, these additional costs will be made clear.

    POSTGRADUATE LOAN SCHEME

    A system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees in the UK is available with support from the UK Government. The loan is available for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.

    SCHOLARSHIPS

    Details of scholarships can be found on our main Bursaries and Scholarships page. You should make an application to study at the University and receive an offer letter confirming our acceptance of your application before applying for a scholarship.

    Please note that applicants with a First-Class degree at undergraduate level are automatically entitled to a scholarship which is worth the equivalent of 33% of their total fees.

    You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.

    How to apply

    Apply direct

    Apply online from this page as:

    • The most flexible option.
    • You can apply until shortly before the course starts.
    • There are no application fees.

    You can apply directly through our website by clicking the ‘Apply now’ button below.