The New College of the Humanities is launching its first postgraduate degree this September at the same time as cutting its undergraduate fees from £18,000 to £12,000.
The MA in historical research and public history, validated by Swansea University, will be offered as a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course. Fees will be £11,000 for home, European Union and European Economic Area students and £15,000 for international students.
The announcement by the private institution, set up in 2012 by the philosopher A. C. Grayling, came just a few days after it also revealed that it was bringing forward by a year plans to cut its fees for students from the UK and Europe to £12,000.
Along with a dissertation and general courses on research methods and public history, students on the MA will take two out of the five in-depth modules in the specialist research areas offered by members of the history faculty.
Head of history Suzannah Lipscomb will focus on “encounters between Europeans and the wider world during the 16th- and 17th-century period of discovery, conquest and colonisation”, while others will explore themes ranging from medieval royal courts to “African Americans and economic inequality from Civil War to Civil Rights”.
She is herself a well-known television presenter and the public history module will also include guest lectures by established media figures such as Bethany Hughes, Simon Schama and Alex von Tunzelmann.
While some of the students are likely to come straight from a first degree in history, Dr Lipscomb also expects the MA to function as “a history conversion course” for those who have studied other subjects and perhaps even to attract those with “a long-term passion for history” and “degree-level professional experience” even if they have limited formal academic qualifications.
The move into postgraduate education and decision to cut undergraduate fees are likely to be seen as key moves by a college that is still relatively small in terms of student numbers but is regarded by some in government as a key institution in the drive to create more competition for universities.
Announcing its decision on undergraduate fees earlier this month, the NCH said that it had reached “key milestones in its evolution sooner than expected”, leading the college’s financial backers “to demonstrate their commitment by backing accelerated growth of the college and further wider participation by academically gifted students regardless of their background”.
Last year, the NCH announced that it would be introducing its own degrees validated by Southampton Solent University; that it had secured the ability to sponsor international student visas; and that it would be given access to government tuition and maintenance loans for its undergraduates.