Naval History MA
MA Naval History
If you're fascinated by British naval history – from Nelson's journey to national hero status, to the Royal Navy's role in the British Empire – our MA Naval History degree course lets you transform your interest into a postgraduate qualification.
Through flexible distance learning, you'll explore 400 years of naval history, take a deep dive into the subject through our links with the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and HMS Warrior, and get expert teaching from naval experts and curators.
You'll study subjects such as the Royal Navy's importance to British and global history, and how the navy is represented in popular culture. You'll look at Naval life from many perspectives, learn about the lives of ordinary sailors in peace and war, and examine the cult of the naval hero.
When you complete this course, you'll have expertise in British naval history and transferable skills too – like independent learning, written communication, textual analysis and time management – that'll make you an ideal candidate for PhD study, or for a career in fields like journalism, administration or archival and museum curation.
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Have access to the archives, expertise and galleries of the NMRN and HMS Warrior
- Make the most of our links with domestic and international maritime museums, including opportunities to go on field trips and behind the scenes tours
- Learn about key areas of Royal Navy history, from the early modern period to present day
- Develop your ability to carry out historical research and interpret multi-archive sources
- Get transferable skills which will help in your future career
- Use our extensive interactive resources, including unique primary sources, secondary literature, and video clips of experts in the field
- Use of our huge collection of digital archival material from the University Library to aid your research
- Write a dissertation based on your own research
- Be supported by staff and experts through seminars, field trips and remote learning
Work experience and career planning
We'll help you to identify voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.
When you complete this course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the heritage, teaching, or other related industries.
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
Careers and opportunities
The transferrable skills that you develop on this course will make you an excellent candidate for a number of careers, including:
- Archive and museum work
- Civil service
- Armed forces
Other graduates have continued their studies to PhD level or set up successful businesses with help and support from the University.
- A good honours degree or equivalent in History or a related subject, or equivalent professional experience in a relevant field such as heritage or the navy and armed forces.
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
UK/EU/Channel Islands/Isle of Man/International students
- Distance learning full time: £4,500
- Distance learning part time: £2,250 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
You'll need to meet the costs of any optional field trip that you take, around the UK and Europe. These costs are normally in the region of £500 - £1000.
What you'll study
Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study units worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 4 units worth 30 credits and 1 unit worth 60 credits.
Core units in this year include:
- Naval History Research Skills
- Rise and Fall: Naval Hegemony and Decline: 1815-1960
- The Wooden Walls - The Royal Navy Under Sail: 1500-1815
Core units in this year include:
- Dissertation or Major Naval History Project
There are no optional units in this year.
Changes to course content
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.
As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK). ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
Teaching methods on this course include:
- interactive online resources
- one-to-one feedback and guidance with lecturers
There are also optional activities, such as:
- campus based seminars and group sessions
- field trips - domestic and abroad
How you'll spend your time
Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and an assessment period:
- Autumn teaching block – September to December
- Spring teaching block – January to Easter
- Assessment period – Easter to June
You’ll get a timetable 4 weeks before the start of a teaching block.
Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. There’s no teaching on Wednesday afternoons. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- document analysis
- book reviews
- 15,000 word dissertation
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
Admissions terms and conditionsWhen you accept an offer to study with us, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.
Apply for this course using our online application form.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.