War and Conflict

War, Media and Society - MA

2019

This MA programme explores how conflict occurs across a variety of countries and landscapes in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and how such conflict is managed and presented through media and propaganda.

2019

Overview

It takes in different types of conflict, from conventional trench warfare and geopolitical stand-offs to guerrilla tactics and civil defence initiatives. It also examines the application of technology in warfare, the impact of the media on public opinion, along with the increasing importance of the home front in 20th-century warfare. The compulsory module provides a strong interpretative and conceptual backbone to the programme and introduces you to the particular demands of postgraduate study in history.

Think Kent video series

The famous Christmas Truce of 1914 now looms large in public perceptions of the First World War. In this lecture, Professor Mark Connelly from the University of Kent revisits this amazing event to explore Christmas 1914 in more detail and question what it tells us about the wider history of the conflict.

About the School of History

The School of History at the University of Kent offers a great environment in which to research and study. Situated in a beautiful cathedral city with its own dynamic history, the University is within easy reach of the main London archives and is convenient for travelling to mainland Europe.

The School of History is a lively, research-led department where postgraduate students are given the opportunity to work alongside academics recognised as experts in their respective fields. The School was placed eighth nationally for research intensity in the most recent Research Excellence Framework, and consistently scores highly in the National Student Survey.

There is a good community spirit within the School, which includes regular postgraduate social meetings, weekly seminars and a comprehensive training programme with the full involvement of the School’s academic staff. Thanks to the wide range of teaching and research interests in the School, we can offer equally wide scope for research supervision covering British, European, African and American history.

At present, there are particularly strong groupings of research students in medieval and early modern cultural and social history, early modern religious history, the history and cultural studies of science and medicine, the medicine, the history of propaganda, military history, war and the media, and the history of Kent.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of History was ranked 8th for research intensity and in the top 20 in the UK for research power.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 99% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This course investigates the nature of historical research at its highest level. While postgraduate students are expected to become highly specialised researchers in their own particular field or subfield, this course encourages them to consider history as a wider discipline and to broaden their approach to evidence and interpretation. Students will be expected to engage with a variety of intellectual viewpoints and methodological approaches to the discipline, and consider the impact that other disciplines have had on the study of History. A number of dissertation workshops will be arranged to help students with their dissertations.

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The aim of this module is to explore the concept of propaganda and roles of the mass communications media in times of conflict. This will involve an historical approach which takes into consideration the numerous theoretical problems associated with the study of propaganda as well as the different ways political propaganda has been interpreted and used internationally in time of war or peace. Using case studies ranging from the First World War to the present day, the aim of the module is to enable students to think critically about the manner in which propaganda is disseminated in wartime and the pressures governments, media organisations and journalists face in times of conflict. The module explores how different types of conflict and changing technology have elicited different relationships between the media, the military and government. The module also examines the impact of the media upon public opinion and the increasingly important part played by the home front in twentieth century warfare.

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Optional modules may include Credits

The module will examine the experience of Ireland during the First World War. There is now considerable historiography available on Irish recruitment to the British armed forces between 1914 and 1918 and this will form the basis for three seminars; considering Nationalist and Unionist reactions to recruitment and the place of Ireland within wider UK recruitment. Political developments, caused largely by the war, namely, the decline of the Irish Parliamentary Party, rise of the Sinn Fein movement and Irish Unionisms acceptance of partition will form another important element of the module. There has been considerable work carried out on commemoration of the Great War in Ireland and Irish commemoration overseas (most notably the building of the Ulster Tower at Thiepval, France in 1921 and of the Irish Peace Park at Messines / Mesen, Belgium in 1998) and this will form the focus for two seminars. Other seminars will consider the Irish economy and the war and Irish paramilitarism between 1914 and 1918.

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The overthrow of white settler minority rule and apartheid by the peoples of South Africa and Zimbabwe marked a key period in the history of the twentieth century. This module traces the trajectory of these linked struggles both by examining contemporary written and visual sources and by engaging with current debates. Themes to be discussed include the dynamics of anti-colonial nationalism, the tactic and strategy of armed insurrection, and the ambiguities of independence.

The convenor will be primarily responsible for the teaching of this module; specific seminars, however, will also be taught by one or more experts drawn from the members of staff of the School of History. The seminar leader will chair each session and facilitate dialogue between students. Each week students will be exposed to a new case-study, its agreed historical facts, and its differing interpretations, all of which will enable students to gain a comparative grasp of the similarities and differences between conflicts. Each seminar will include an assessed presentation by one or two students on a particular question or problem related to a respective case-study.

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This module examines the main causes and consequences of armed conflict and violence in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), from the 1860s to the present. It will begin with a discussion of the predatory political formations thrown up by the opening of the Central African interior to global commerce in the second half of the nineteenth century. The incorporation of their leaders, armed personnel and extractive forms of governance into King Leopold's personal colony, the Congo Free State, will next be addressed. After examining the key features of Belgian rule in the Congo following the reprise of 1908, the module will explore the precipitous modalities of Congolese decolonization and the process of violent disintegration that ensued. A discussion of secessionist and revolutionary challenges to the post-independence dispensation will help to account for the rise of Mobutu’s authoritarian 'kleptocracy’ and its longevity in an international context dominated by the Cold War. The module will end by investigating the circumstances that led to Mobutu’s fall, as well as the armed balkanization experienced by the Congo in its aftermath.

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This module critically examines the surface and decay of Nuclear America in the twentieth century. Responsible for ushering in the modern atomic era, the USA is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in nuclear technology and weaponry. Receptivity towards the atom has nonetheless shifted over time: atomic materials once heralded the saviour of American society (through the promise of reactors delivering ‘electricity to cheap to meter’) have also been deemed responsible for long-term environmental problems and doomsday anxieties. Why the atom has received typically bi-polar and polemic responses is of great interest here. Along with events of global significance (such as the bombing of Hiroshima), the module also covers the more intimate views of American citizens living and working close to ground zero. Personal testimonies come from ‘atomic foot soldiers’ traversing blast sites in the 1950s and protesters trespassing across reactor sites in the 1970s. In particular, the module examines the role of media, propaganda and image in inventing popular understandings of the nuclear age, as well as the contribution of atomic scientists to national discourse.

Themes and Topics:

Popular and Scientific Ideas of Radioactivity

The Manhattan Project and the Decision to drop the Bomb

Cold War (1): The Rosenbergs

Atomic Veterans and explorations of Ground Zero

Civil Defence and Fallout Culture

Atomic Movies (1) Fantasy

Cold War (2): The Cuban Missile Crisis

Protesting the Peaceful Atom: Diablo Canyon and Three Mile Island

Atomic Movies (2) Realism and Survivalism

Cold War Memory, Legacy and Atomic Tourism

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This module will examine a number of aspects concerning the British army during the Great War. The (in)effectiveness of British generalship will be examined, allowing students to explore the rich historiography of this topic which dates back to the so-called, ‘battle of the memoirs’ in the 1920s. Consideration will then be given to the structure and expansion of the ‘four armies’ (regular, territorial, Kitchener and conscript) examining how effectively the British army coped with this massive expansion and trained the newly formed units. Allied to this, there will be a consideration of manpower policy during the Great War, in particular there will be some discussion given to the propaganda elements involved in the voluntary recruiting campaigns of 1914-16 and the British experience of conscription in 1916-18. Attention will also be given to the discipline and morale of the British army, which was the only European army of the Great War not to suffer from major problems in this area. Students will be invited to explore the full aspects of discipline and morale and will consider why the wartime executions of 312 soldiers have come to dominate the historiography. In terms of the British army in action, this module will contain case-studies of the well known Gallipoli campaign and the Battles of the Somme along with the lesser known so-called 100 days battles at the end of the war to consider the important issue of whether the British army did indeed participate in what some historians have termed a ‘learning curve’ during the Great War. Other topics, such as the the experience of women in the British army, the British army on the home front, logistics and officer selection will also be discussed in detail.

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This module is organised around a work experience placement, undertaken in an institution relevant to the student's Masters' programme. This may be a museum, archive, school or other institution involved in engaging or communicating history and/or science to specific audiences or the general public.

The curriculum is flexible to allow students to work around other modules, to adapt to the requirements of different placements and to follow their interests. Placements should, with support from teaching staff, be researched and confirmed in the Autumn Term, with tasks/projects agreed.

Seminar sessions on campus will be organised to reflect the placements, offering appropriate reading, discussion and critical reflection. They are an opportunity for students to feedback on work they have achieved, giving presentations to share their experiences with other students. There will also be an opportunity for one-to-one feedback and discussion.

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The period 1815-1848 is often seen as an age of stagnation, reaction and obscurantism when compared to the heroic revolutionary and Napoleonic maelstroms that had preceded it. There is a sense that, once the monarchs who attended the Congress of Vienna returned home, they turned the clocks back to 1789 and pretended that the previous decades had never happened. This is why the period is often given the label of the 'Restoration.' Nothing could be further from the truth. This was the age of Tocqueville, Turner, Balzac, Hugo, Schubert, Gogol, Hegel, Rossini, Bellini, Mazzini and Schinkel. Europe was awash in political, international and cultural ferment. States could not just sweep reality under a carpet of reaction, Europeans struggled to reconcile their heroic revolutionary past with the need for stability in the present. This age witnessed the first experiments with modern parliamentary government and democracy ceased being shorthand for demagogy. Key terms, like liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and egotism, that remain foundational to our contemporary political lexicon, were all coined at this time. Equally, these years witnessed the great revolt against the austere classicism of the eighteenth century. Artists, novelists, poets, playwrights, philosophers and architects all sought keenly their inner genius and struggled to give life to their demons and monstrous passions. The movement known today as Romanticism was the result of this far from innocent soul-searching. It had repercussions that went well beyond the cultural sphere, spilling over into the world of politics, government, war and peace.

This module will introduce students to the latest research, theories and controversies surrounding the history of the European Restorations. Each week a theme, event or controversy will be chosen. Students will be presented with a key historiographical text and a key primary source. Every week, they will try to gauge how well the interpretations and arguments of historians fit the period. The primary goal of this module is to demonstrate that, far from stagnant, the Post-Napoleonic age was a crucial étape in the transition to what we today understand as modernity.

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This module will explore how war and the threatened or actual use of armed force shaped the regional, national and transnational politics and societies of Modern Spain and Latin America. It will follow a broadly chronological theme embracing Spain's Peninsular War, Latin American Independence Wars, Spain's Carlist Wars, Latin American wars of borders and nation-building, Mexican Revolutionary and Cristero Wars, Spanish Civil War, and the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary wars of Cold War Latin America. Even though the world-wide Spanish empire collapsed in the early nineteenth century, the relationship thereafter between war and society followed remarkably similar patterns on both sides of the Spanish Atlantic.

Each week students will attend a two-hour seminar hosted by at least one of the two co-convenors of this module who will chair it and facilitate the dialogue. Each week students will be exposed to a new case-study, its agreed historical facts, and its differing interpretations, all of which will enable students to gain a comparative grasp of the similarities and differences between conflicts. Each seminar will include an assessed presentation by one or two students on a particular question or problem related to a respective case-study.

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30
Compulsory modules currently include Credits

All students on taught MA programmes in the School of History are required to complete a 15,000-18,000 word dissertation as part of their programme. The task of the dissertation is designed to provide students with the opportunity to articulate key concepts, ideas and theories underlying their creative work, as well as providing an in-depth contextual presentation of their work situating it within the current historiography. The dissertation involves student-directed learning and research with the aim of producing a structured and persuasive argument, demonstrating a command of the technical languages of a variety of historical approaches, and perhaps including the effective use of visual materials in support of their arguments.

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Teaching and Assessment

All courses are assessed by coursework, and the dissertation counts for half the final grade (comprising one third assessed preparation, two thirds actual dissertation).

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • place the study of propaganda images and the media, in their historical and political contexts at the centre of student learning and analysis
  • ensure that students of War, Media and Modernity acquire knowledge and understanding in the historical modes of theory and analysis
  • enable you to understand and use the concepts, approaches and methods of propaganda images and the media in different history contexts  and develop an understanding of the differing and contested aspects between, and within, the relevant disciplines
  • develop your capacities to think critically about propaganda images and the media in all its forms and interpretations
  • encourage you to relate the academic study of propaganda images and the media  to questions of public debate and concern
  • promote a curriculum supported by scholarship, staff development and a research culture that promotes breadth and depth of intellectual enquiry and debate
  • assist you to develop cognitive and transferable skills relevant to your vocational and personal development.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the ability to understand how people have reacted to conceived  propaganda images and the media in the differing contexts of the past and present
  • the origins and development of propaganda images and the media in human societies, the justifications for  policies (both in peace and war) and its outcomes
  • the structure, nature and operation of institutions and states in differing contexts, through the topic of propaganda images and the media
  • the contestable nature of many interpretations of propaganda images and the media, both from original sources and from contemporary academics and commentators
  • the ability to understand historical and contemporary texts and materials both critically and empathetically while addressing questions of genre, content, perspective and purpose
  • the problems inherent in the historical and contemporary record: an awareness of a range of viewpoints and the way to cope with this, an awareness of the limitations of knowledge and the dangers of simplistic explanations
  • a comprehensive knowledge of propaganda images and the media in the round, from different perspectives within the discipline of history and relevant disciplines from the social sciences
  • knowledge of the social, political, cultural and military aspects of propaganda images and the media
  • knowledge of the power structures and impulses to use propaganda images and the media as a form of human interaction.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • gathering, organising and deploying critically, evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
  • the ability to identify, investigate and analyse primary and secondary information
  • the ability to develop reasoned defensible arguments based on reflection, study and critical judgement
  • the ability to differentiate between arguments
  • the ability to reflect on, and manage, your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your own performance and personal skills.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • understanding the nature of the propaganda images and the media and their significance as global and historical human activities
  • the application of methods, concepts and theories used in the studies of history and relevant disciplines from the social sciences
  • the evaluation of different interpretations and sources
  • how to marshall an argument: summarise and defend a particular interpretation or analysis of events.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, respond to written sources, present information orally, adapt style for different audiences and use images as a communications tool
  • numeracy: the ability to read graphs and tables, integrate numerical and non-numerical information and understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information
  • information technology: how to produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases and spreadsheets (where necessary)
  • independence of mind and initiative
  • self-discipline and self-motivation
  • the ability to work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views.

Careers

As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, postgraduate qualifications are becoming more attractive to employers seeking individuals who have finely tuned skills and abilities, which our programmes encourage you to hone. As a result of the valuable transferable skills developed during your course of study, career prospects for history graduates are wide ranging. Our graduates go on to a variety of careers, from research within the government to teaching, politics to records management and journalism, to working within museums and galleries – to name but a few.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The resources for historical research at Kent are led by the University’s Templeman Library: a designated European Documentation Centre which holds specialised collections on slavery and antislavery, and on medical science. The Library has a substantial collection of secondary materials to back-up an excellent collection of primary sources including the British Cartoon Archive, newspapers, a large audio-visual library, and a complete set of British Second World War Ministry of Information propaganda pamphlets.

The School has a dedicated Centre for the Study of Propaganda and War, which has a distinctive archive of written, audio and visual propaganda materials, particularly in film, video and DVD. Locally, you have access to: the Canterbury Cathedral Library and Archive (a major collection for the study of medieval and early modern religious and social history); the Centre for Kentish Studies at Maidstone; and the National Maritime Collection at Greenwich. Kent is also within easy reach of the country’s premier research collections in London and the national libraries in Paris and Brussels.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Contemporary History; English Historical Review; British Journal for the History of Science; Technology and Culture; and War and Society.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.1 or equivalent in history or a relevant subject (eg, politics, international relations, archaeology). In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Medieval and early modern history

Covering c400–c1500, incorporating such themes as Anglo-Saxon England, early-modern France, palaeography, British and European politics and society, religion and papacy.

Modern history

Covering c1500–present, incorporating such themes as modern British, European and American history, British military history, and 20th-century conflict and propaganda.

History of science, technology and medicine

Incorporating such themes as colonial science and medicine, Nazi medicine, eugenics, science and technology in 19th-century Britain.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Julie Anderson: Reader in the History of Modern Medicine

The cultural and social history of 20th-century medicine in Britain and the Commonwealth, particularly with regard to war and medicine, surgery and disability.

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Professor Barbara Bombi: Professor of Medieval, Ecclesiastical and Religious Studies

Ecclesiastical and religious history, 1200-1400; canon law and history of the medieval papacy; crusades and history of the military orders; Anglo-papal relations in the 14th century; Latin diplomatic and palaeography.

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Dr Philip Boobbyer: Senior Lecturer in Modern European History

Russian and Soviet history, especially Russian religious and political philosophy.

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Dr Timothy Bowman: Senior Lecturer in British Military History

British military history in the 19th and 20th centuries; Irish history c1775-1998.

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Dr Ambrogio Caiani: Lecturer in Modern European History

European political, military and diplomatic history 1715-1848; The French Revolution; Napoleonic Europe; royal courts; constitutional monarchies’ Alexis de Tocqueville, French liberalism; political radicalism after the Congress of Vienna.

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Professor Mark Connelly: Professor of Modern British History

British modern history; British military history; the British at war from 1800; the image of war in popular culture. 

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Dr George Conyne: Lecturer in American History

American, constitutional, political and diplomatic history; Anglo-American relations; British diplomacy in the 20th century; the Cold War.

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Professor Kenneth Fincham: Professor of Early Modern History

Early modern British politics and religion; the clergy of the Anglican Church; the era of the Civil Wars.

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Dr Stefan Goebel: Senior Lecturer in Modern British History

Modern British and German history; war and commemoration; the impact of war on cities; collective memory; 20th-century urban history. 

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Dr Rebekah Higgitt: Lecturer in History of Science

History of science, especially physical sciences, in 17th to 19th-century Britain; relationship between science, government and the public; scientific institutions; popular science; biography.

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Professor Gaynor Johnson: Professor of History

The international history of the 20th century; the origins of the First and Second World Wars; international diplomacy; diplomats; the history of international peace organisations; the history of the Foreign Office.

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Dr Karen Jones: Senior Lecturer in American History

The American West; environmental history; the wolf: science and symbolism; hunting, nature and American identity; human relationships with animals; nuclear culture; parks and other tourist/heritage landscapes.

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Dr Jan Loop: Lecturer in History

The intellectual, religious and cultural history of Europe and the Near East, with a special focus on Western knowledge of the Arab, Ottoman and Persian world 1450-1800.

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Dr Giacomo Macola: Senior Lecturer in African History

Central African political and intellectual history from the 18th century to the present.

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Dr Emily Manktelow: Lecturer in African History

Central African political and intellectual history from the 18th century to the present.

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Dr Juliette Pattinson: Reader in History

Socio-cultural history, particularly the Second World War, specifically gender and oral history.

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Dr William Pettigrew: Reader in American History

England and her Atlantic colonies in the 16th to 18th centuries; the history of the British Atlantic Empire; the trans-Atlantic slave trade; race and ethnicity; the history of economic thought; Renaissance diplomacy. 

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Professor Ulf Schmidt: Professor of Modern History

German and European modern history, especially the history of medicine, eugenics and medical films during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich and the Cold War.

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Dr Charlotte Sleigh: Reader in the History of Science

History and culture of the life sciences in the 19th and 20th centuries; history of natural history; literature; gender.

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Dr Leonie James: Lecturer in History

The politics of religion and diplomacy in 17th and early 18th century Britain.

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Dr John Wills: Senior Lecturer in American History

Modern US history; environmental, cultural and visual history; American nuclear landscapes; California protest culture; Disney; theme parks; tourism; 1950s America; cyber-society (including video games).

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

War Media and Society - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 £7850

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: