War and Conflict

War, Media and Society - MA


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.



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


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.

Modules may include Credits

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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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.

Part I: Paradigms

Historicism: the emergence of ‘historical science’ in the 19th century

Structural history: the challenge of the social sciences

Cultural turns: history after the end of the master narrative

Part II: Fields

Religious history

Oral history

Military history

Propaganda studies

Environmental history

History of medicine

Part III: Portfolio and Dissertation workshops

Book reviews

Annotated bibliographies and historiographical reviews

Dissertation outlines

In addition, we will undertake field trips to archives and research libraries.

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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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The module will offer a comprehensive overview and examination of the propaganda used by the Soviet regime in its attempts to build communism and defend the interests of the Soviet regime. The seminar structure will be broadly chronological, but in such a way as also to allow for a thematic approach. The module will initially look at early Bolshevik propaganda, both in 1917 and during the Civil War. It will then go on to look at the promotion of Stalinism in relation to industrialisation, history, education, the personality cult and religion. Space will be given to the patriotic propaganda of the Second World War, and the concurrent reinvention of Soviet ideology. Poster art, paintings, cartoons, film, newspapers and news agencies will all feature, as will some of the propagandists themselves. The institutional foundations of Soviet propaganda will be discussed. The tension between science and propaganda will also be examined. The role of disinformation and front organisations in Soviet foreign policy will be covered, as well as some aspects of the cultural Cold War. Practices of resistance to Soviet propaganda, arising from within the Soviet and Eastern bloc dissident movement in the post-Stalin era, will be explored. Consideration will also be given to the waning appeal of Soviet propaganda in the 1980s and 1990s, including Gorbachev's policy of glasnost' and the management of the Chernobyl’ affair in 1986. At the end of the module, students will examine the extent to which the Soviet propaganda tradition has influenced Russian propaganda in the early 20th century under Putin. All these themes will be examined in the context of relevant historiography on Soviet and Russian history.

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This module will provide students with a detailed study of the evolution and work of the IWGC during the first period of its existence.

The module curriculum will consider the following issues:

• The way in which the mass casualties of the war caused people, as individuals, as families, and as groups across the Empire, as well as the imperial authorities, to consider the issue of suitable commemoration of those who had given their lives in the service of the Empire.

• The competing demands and visions of the various 'stakeholders' throughout the period 1914-1939 including the post-war resistance to the IWGC and the continuation of alternative solutions provided by independent pressure groups.

• The establishment and evolution of the authorities responsible for burial and graves registration in France and Belgium and the gradual expansion of powers and influence.

• The creation of the IWGC, its immediate tasks, the debates over its authority, reach and role, and its eventual triumph as the crucial agency.

• The issue of suitable commemoration of the missing.

• The role and visions of the architects both at the consulting level and on the ground.

• The process of constructing, making permanent and maintaining the cemeteries and memorials across the globe.

• The experiences of visitors to the sites and the role of the IWGC as a mediator of that experience and the Commission's interactions with other bodies.

• The IWGC as a simultaneous medium for the harnessing of a central imperial message and distinctive statements about the component parts of the Empire.

• As a conclusion to consider the importance of the IWGC in influence conceptions of the conflict into the present.

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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 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 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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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.


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, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

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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Barbara Bombi: Reader in Medieval History

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 Helen Gittos: Lecturer in Medieval History

Anglo-Saxon England, especially church history; early medieval liturgy and architecture.

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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 Danielle van den Heuvel: Lecturer in History

The position of women in early modern Dutch society; street vending in early modern Europe; guilds, consumption and retail development.

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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 Phil Slavin: Lecturer in Medieval History of Science

Environmental, economic and social history of late-medieval and early modern British Isles and the north Atlantic world.

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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

Anglicanism in Scotland and Ireland during the 17th century.

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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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The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

War Media and Society - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £15200
Part-time £3650 £7600

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. 


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