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Course summary

Overview Transform your love of naval and maritime history into a versatile postgraduate qualification on this Master's in Naval History, all from the home of the Royal Navy. Thanks to our partnerships with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the HMS Warrior and other key maritime heritage institutions, you'll have digital or in-person access to a treasure trove of expertise, archives and galleries to enrich your studies. With the entire course online via distance learning, you can choose to study full-time over a year or part-time over two years, if you're looking to study alongside work or military service. You'll embark on a deep dive into the global legacy of developments in the naval domain from 1508 to 1960. Considering factors from strategic to sociological, technological to cultural, you'll explore subject areas including the role of the Women’s Royal Naval Service during the Second World War, debates around the naval battle at Jutland, how Nelson won at Trafalgar, and what contributed to the Boston Tea Party. You'll learn from a team of naval experts and historical curators who share your passion for the field, and analyse topics with a diverse cohort of fellow students from all around the world. When you graduate, you'll have specialist expertise in naval history as well as enhanced career-ready skills in critical analysis, research, source evaluation and writing. You'll be an ideal candidate for PhD study, or for roles in fields such as journalism, education, museum curation, or the Armed Forces. What you'll experience On this course you'll:

  • Immerse yourself in a rich exploration of naval history, into areas such as the European Imperial expansion, the birth of the United States, and the role of the sea in the English Civil War, the Spanish Armada, the reign of King Henry VIII and the disappearance of the Mary Rose
  • Enjoy digital or in-person access to the collections of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the HMS Warrior, Lloyd's Register Foundation, the Legasee Educational Trust, and the Wellington Trust, and have the chance to get involved in research projects, field trips and behind-the-scenes tours
  • Hear from expert guest lecturers, such as Dr Edward Hampshire from the Royal Navy’s Naval Historical Branch, and opt to attend history research seminars conducted by the University and external academics
  • Develop your ability to carry out historical research and interpret multi-archive sources using our extensive interactive library, including unique primary sources, secondary literature, and video clips of experts in the field
  • Build a network of fellow naval historians and, once you graduate, join our naval history alumni group
  • Choose an area of naval history to explore in-depth for your dissertation or research project
Careers and opportunities What can you do with a Naval History degree? The transferable skills that you develop on this course will make you an excellent candidate for a number of careers, including:
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Teaching
  • Administration
  • Archive and museum work
  • Civil service
  • Armed forces
  • Research
Other graduates have continued their studies to PhD level or set up successful businesses with help and support from the University.


Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits. You will need to study modules worth a total of 180 credits across 1 year (full time) or 2 years (part time). For example, 4 modules worth 30 credits and 1 module worth 60 credits. Modules Core modules include:

  • Naval History Research Skills
  • Naval History Project
  • The Wooden Walls - The Royal Navy Under Sail: 1500-1815
  • Rise and Fall: Naval Hegemony and Decline: 1815-1960
  • Dissertation of Major Naval History Project
Optional modules include:
  • Research Project
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.

Assessment method

You’ll be assessed through: essays 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.

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree or equivalent in History or a related subject (International Relations, War Studies, Journalism etc.), 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.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

International £4250 Year 1
EU £4250 Year 1
England £4250 Year 1
Northern Ireland £4250 Year 1
Scotland £4250 Year 1
Wales £4250 Year 1
Channel Islands £4250 Year 1
Republic of Ireland £4250 Year 1

Additional fee information

Students who are resident in EU countries: please note that the net fee is inclusive of the Transition Scholarship. Fees are accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Fees may also go up in later years, in line with inflation. For more information about fees, go to
Naval History (Distance Learning) at University of Portsmouth - UCAS