Early Modern History Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Early Modern History?

Modern history is the history of the world beginning after the Middle Ages. The Early Modern period is a term used by historians for the period in Western Europe and its first colonies which spans the three centuries between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution.

The early modern period is characterized by the rise to the importance of science and technological progress and civic politics.

The beginning of the early modern period is not clear-cut but is generally accepted to be in the late 15th century or early 16th century. The period includes the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War, the European colonization of the Americas and the peak of the European hunt of witches.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Early Modern History in the following subject areas:

  • Early Modern History (M.Phil.) – An introduction to research in the political, social, cultural and religious history of Ireland, Britain and Europe across the early modern period.
  • MA in History – Gain a deeper understanding of Ireland’s social, cultural, economic and political history from the Middle Ages to the present day.
  • Irish History – Learn about events in Irish History from Medieval times to the 21st century.
  • American History – An introduction to the main events of American history from the beginnings of English colonization in the early seventeenth century to the present.
  • Modern Irish History (M.Phil.) – A study of research in modern Irish history, from the problems currently addressed by historians to the methods they apply to the study of the subject.

Studying Early Modern History 

There are many courses in Early Modern History that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Look for volunteering or work experience opportunities within the area in which you’re interested. For example, if you’d like a career in curatorship, try to get experience working with museum collections. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favorably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing an Early Modern History course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of history and research.

History graduates are valued by a wide range of employers and organizations including heritage organizations, museums and libraries. Other typical employers include accountancy firms, archive and records offices, banks, charities, higher education institutions, international development organizations, law firms, management consultancies, publishing companies, retailers, schools or television and radio broadcasters.

As a History graduate, you will typically apply your expertise and skills developed through study and research. You may aim to publish papers on your work in peer-reviewed, well-respected journals or could write reports, books or chapters of books on your specialist area of knowledge.

You could also be involved in the teaching and supervision of university students and speaking at conferences. Some academic researchers are also employed as higher education teaching staff while they carry out their research. Some highly sought after roles are purely research-based, but even posts such as postdoctoral researcher often have some teaching element.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Working hours within this field are usually 35 hours per week. In reality, you will likely work longer hours as required, in order to complete projects and reach publication deadlines and targets. This will include evenings and weekends.

Time away from home may be common, depending on the nature of your specialism – for example, to complete scientific fieldwork overseas.

Related jobs include:

  • Historian
  • Academic researcher
  • Archivist
  • Heritage manager
  • Historic buildings inspector/conservation officer
  • Museum education officer
  • Museum/gallery curator
  • Museum/gallery exhibitions officer
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Academic librarian
  • Archaeologist
  • Broadcast journalist
  • Civil Service administrator
  • Editorial assistant
  • Human resources officer
  • Information officer
  • Marketing executive
  • Policy officer
  • Politician’s assistant
  • Solicitor

Further study

After completing a course in Early Modern History you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as accountancy, journalism, law, librarianship, museum studies and teaching.


What is the importance of Early Modern History?

History is broken down and separated into periods of time. Each period begins with an event that will significantly change the future. Modern History begins after the end of the Middle Ages in the 16th century and continues on today. The Modern Era consists of major advances in the areas of technology, science and population growth. Modern History is a result of hundreds of years of human innovation and ultimately represents the human race at its best. The events that took place in the Middle Ages created necessary conditions for the Modern Era to begin.

Where can I study Modern and Early Modern History?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

  • After the French Revolution, eight-year-old Louis XVII was imprisoned and then never seen in public ever again. His parents were executed in 1793 and he was left isolated in a prison cell in the Paris Temple. In 1795, he died of Tuberculosis at 10-years-old and his body was buried in secret in a mass grave. Years later, dozens of men came forward claiming to be him because a Bourbon restoration was a possibility and a successful claimant could then potentially find himself on the throne of France.
  • Captain Morgan, of the well-loved rum brand, was a real person. He was a Welsh privateer who fought alongside the English against the Spanish in the Caribbean in the 1660s and 1670s. His first name was Henry and was knighted by King Charles II of England. He died in Jamaica in 1688, apparently very rich.
  • The Nursery Rhyme, “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” is based on a true story. Mary Sawyer was an 11-year-old girl and lived in Boston and one day was followed to school by her pet lamb. In the late 1860s, she helped raise money for an old church by selling wool from the lamb.
  • In 1834, ketchup was sold as a cure for indigestion by an Ohio physician named John Cook. It wasn’t popularized as a condiment until the late 19th century.
  • Apparently, being the first president of the United States wasn’t enough for George Washington in his lifetime. After his term, Washington opened a whiskey distillery. By 1799, Washington’s distillery was the largest in the country, producing 11,000 gallons of un-aged whiskey.

Mariza Halliday

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