Cultural History, Memory and Identity MA


carving of tiger eating a man c.1750Image: Lieutenant Munroe attacked by a tiger (pearware, Staffordshire pottery c. 1793, Willett Collection, Brighton and Hove Museum).

The Master of Arts in Cultural History, Memory and Identity is a course founded on the internationally reputed scholarship at the University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities. It takes students through to a detailed understanding of the cultural practices and media of ‘history-making’; the cultural representation and interpretation of ‘history’ and 'memory'; the role of constructions of ‘the past’ in cultures and societies, and in the formation of identities.

The course comprises three pathways:

  • Cultural Memory
  • Making Histories Interpreting Archives
  • ‘Race’, Nation and Ethnicity

In ethos the Cultural History, Memory and Identity programme at Brighton develops a connection between critical understanding and analysis of the origins, forms and effects of cultural constructions of history and memory, and a practical, ‘hands-on’ emphasis upon the skills and methods involved in the making of new historical accounts and representations.  

Emphasising the close relation between academic study and broader cultural interest in the past and its significance in everyday life, the programme enables investigation of a wide range of cultural forms and practices, including oral history, life-story work and auto/biography, drama and performance, architecture and the built environment, material artefacts, monuments, exhibitions, museums, written histories, imaginative literature, archival collections of documents and other material, painting, graphic design, photography, film, television, video, multimedia/virtual reality, commemoration, and heritage.  

Brighton's MA programme in Cultural History, Memory and Identity programme is grounded in current interdisciplinary methodologies informed by cultural and critical theory, and draws on the course  team’s specific areas of expertise within cultural, social and political history, cultural studies, literary studies, film and visual studies, and the history of ideas. Teaching is undertaken by active researchers including internationally recognised scholars, within a humanities research grouping which contributed to the University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities' top 4* grade in the last Research Assessment Exercise in 2008. Students on the Cultural History, Memory and Identity programme benefit from its close relationship to the University of Brighton Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories.

The three pathways The general concerns of the Masters programme as a whole are developed in relation to three pathways, each of which explores a particular field of enquiry with its own distinctive thematic and methodological focus.  MA students enrol on one of these pathways.  The pathways also provide the basis for the PgCert and PgDip awards.

Further information on the course pathways and application for the MA is available from the tabs on this page and from our MA Cultural History, Memory and Identity pdf


Key facts

UCAS code

Duration Help

Full-time: 1 year

Part-time: up to 6 years

Typical entry requirements Help
individual offers may vary

Location Help Grand Parade

For non-native speakers of English:
IELTS 7.0 overall and 6.5 in writing.

Degree and/or experience:
Relevant honours degree or equivalent. Candidates without a degree but who have suitable professional experience or substantial experience of historical enquiry and research may be admitted.



The fees listed here are for full-time courses for the upcoming academic year only. Further fees are payable for subsequent years of study.

The tuition fee you have to pay depends on a number of factors including the kind of course you take, whether you study full- or part-time and whether or not you already have a higher education qualification. If you are studying part-time you will normally be charged on a pro rata basis depending on the number of modules you take. Different rules apply to research degrees - contact the course team for up-to-date information.

Visit for more information, including advice on international and island fee paying status, and the government's Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) policy.

Cultural History, Memory and Identity ('Race', Nation and Ethnicity) (MA) (Full time)

UK/EU (FT) - 5,580 GBP

Island Students (FT) - 5,580 GBP

International (FT) - 13,840 GBP


Cultural Memory

Course images cultural history cultural memoryImages: (left to right) Female solider in the British Army: Trafalgar Square London, Statue of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, British imperial hero of the campaign to suppress the ‘Indian Mutiny’ of 1857-8 (erected by subscription, 1858); Cover design, Making Peace with the Past, Dawson, G, 2007.

Cultural Memory explores distinctive approaches to questions of history-making, historical consciousness and the cultural significance of ‘the past’ developed in the recently emerged, interdisciplinary field of ‘memory studies’. It focuses on the social, cultural and political processes that produce ‘a sense of the past’ for particular societies and social groups; and the inter-relation between these collective, ‘public’ dimensions of remembering and forgetting, and the domain of ‘personal’ memory.

It develops a critical investigation of the key concepts and theories that define ‘cultural memory’ as a new object of study, and of the key themes and issues entailed: the representation of the past, and of the past-present relationship, in diverse cultural practices and forms (oral, textual, visual and digital); the role of cultural memories in the formation of beliefs, ideologies and identities; conflict over the significance of the past; the relation between memory and politics; the relation between cultural and psychological dimensions of memory; memory and place; cultural memories and historical truth; and the ethics of remembering and forgetting. These general, critical concerns are brought to bear in the study of cultural memories in particular socio-historical contexts, and of specific practices and representations of memory in diverse sites, forms and media.

The pathway begins by introducing the field of ‘memory studies’, and key concepts, theories and methods in the study of cultural memory. It does so thematically by focusing upon studies and debates mainly concerned with the cultural memory of war; the importance of cultural memory to national identities; and cultural memory and racial or ethnic oppression and persecution. On this foundation, the pathway continues by developing more detailed investigation of particular contexts and cases, such as the memory of the Holocaust, and the relation between cultural memory and conflict resolution in the Irish Troubles.


Making Histories

MA Cultural History Memory Identity BrightonImage: The women of 1916, Republican mural (Beechmount, West Belfast, 2004)

Making Histories (Public History and Heritage) explores practices of history-making associated with the creation and use of archives and collections.

The pathway begins by investigating practices of ‘popular’ and local historical production in various contemporary sites both public and private, such as heritage tourism, the museum, the community writers’ workshop, and the family. These are situated in terms of their interaction with ‘academic’ modes of historical analysis, on one hand; and with conceptions of ‘the past’ and its relation to ‘the present’ in everyday life, on the other.

Students examine a range of primary sources that provide the ‘raw material’ for such history-making, considering their provenance and exploring the practices of selection, interpretation and representation by which these are transformed into historical narratives. Critical methods in cultural analysis and historical interpretation are introduced and brought to bear upon various types of source, including written documents (published and unpublished); material sites, objects and artefacts; moving and still images; and life-history material including personal and family memories.

This work prepares students to tackle specific archives and collections - such as the Screen Archive South East based at the University, and the Wolseley Collection in Hove Reference Library (but also, potentially, other collections in the local area, London, or further afield) - addressing questions concerning the cultural origins, history and purposes that underpin their existence, and the interpretation and use of the ‘source material’ collected therein, in constructing understandings of the past.

Students will engage in detailed hands-on work with primary material, construct and present their own historical analyses, and reflect critically upon the processes involved. Throughout, questions of critical and historical practice are situated in relation to a range of academic and social contexts, such as the emergence of ‘history from below’; social movements such as feminism, anti-racism and gay liberation; and developments in public culture from masscommunications media to the heritage industry.


'Race' - Ethnicity

MA Cultural History - study race ethnicity and identityImages: (left to right) The Wedgwood 'Slave Medallion': 'Koreans Receiving Cavalry', illustration from 'Herbert Strang', Kobo: A story of the East, 1934; James Gilray, 'Buonaparte, 48 hours after landing!'

‘Race’, Nation and Ethnicity focuses on the relation between the historical processes that have produced modern ‘imagined communities’ of ‘race’, nation and ethnicity (as these intersect with other factors, including class, gender and locality); and the cultural processes and forms in which these formations and identities have been represented. It investigates how collective experiences, myths and memories are drawn upon in narratives that construct the histories, identities and destinies of ‘racial’, national and ethnic groups, which in turn underpin those groups’ ideological and political claims.

The pathway begins by examining the historical formation and cultural representation of British national identity in relation to racial and ethnic others, with a particular emphasis on histories of migration and empire. It introduces key theoretical paradigms that underpin historical accounts of the significance of migration and empire for cultural constructions of Britishness, and develops methods for the critical investigation of practices of history-making in terms of ideology, cultural representation and identity-formation across various sites and forms, visual and linguistic.

History-making and identity-formation are also analysed in relation to imaginative geographies of nation and diaspora; involving cultural perceptions, significances, images and memories pertaining to places of origin, of belonging, of journeying and of settlement. Case studies are likely to focus on the British ‘island story’ and its critique and transformation; Islam and the Middle East in British cultural imagination; and Jewish migrant cultures in Britain.

This work provides a foundation for more detailed investigation of these themes in particular historical contexts, such as the ‘Atlanticist’ diasporic cultures resulting from European slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean; and in particular forms of representation, such as the colonial and postcolonial novel in English. There is also scope for primary research into the local areas of Brighton and Hove and Sussex using local archives and collections, and the resources of local communities.


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