Undergraduate BA (Hons)

Contemporary Military and International History




Three year

Next enrolment

September 2024


In a nutshell

From wars of propaganda to weaponry and intelligence, explore the conflicts that have shaped society over the past 250 years with our international and military history degree. You’ll delve into topics as diverse as terrorism and intelligence, and can specialise in modules that cover a broad range of specialist subjects concerning the history of contemporary warfare and conflict.

As your studies progress, you’ll expand your knowledge of major trends relating to war and diplomacy over the last two centuries. From the Georgian period to the modern-day, you’ll choose from a range of optional modules designed to explore the political, economic and cultural dimensions of war, as well as the relations between states around the world.

What’s more, in the second and third year of your course you’ll have the opportunity to gain a wealth of real-world experience by pursuing study abroad or as part of one of our industry placements – both of which designed to give your CV the boost it needs to stand out in a competitive job market.

Want to learn more about studying a contemporary military and international history degree at Salford? You can sign-up to an Open Day or attend a campus tour.

If you want to read more about our programmes and explore the careers made possible by a Politics and History degree, you can access our subject guide online.

You will:

  • Explore major trends relating to war and diplomacy during the last two centuries
  • Gain hands-on experience and develop a wide range of transferable skill sets required for a variety of professional careers
  • Have the opportunity to study abroad for some, or all, of your second year

options available


students accepted

This is for you if...


You have a keen interest in historical warfare and international diplomacy, both past and present.


You are able to think critically and communicate your ideas well in writing.


You would like the opportunity to specialise in naval, air or land warfare.

Course details

All about the course

This course helps you to expand your knowledge and understanding of many of the major trends relating to war and diplomacy over the last 200 years. Visiting speakers from Britain and abroad provide specialist guest lectures. A military history field trip during the first year is part of a range of possibilities which supplement the lectures and seminars.

The first year of studying this military and international history course at university will give you the opportunity to analyse the work of historians and political scientists, while also introducing you to the expectations of undergraduate study. You’ll meet your fellow students in your lectures and seminars, with the chance to take part in military history field trips.

As you move into the second and third year of your international history and military degree course, you’ll build upon your knowledge of the central themes of military and international history, placing them in their theoretical and historical contexts. You’ll choose from specialised modules designed to enable you to tailor your studies to your academic interests and career aspirations, accumulating in your final year dissertation project supervised by an academic member of staff in your chosen field.

Interested? Explore what each module involves in our course breakdown below.

Year one

International History (1) 1890-1945

You will examine the history of international relations from the 1890s to the end of the Second World War. Particular emphasis will be given to the European balance of power system in place at the turn of the century and the collapse of that system during the First World War; the failure to tame the international system after the war; the subsequent challenges to world order stemming from the rise of Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union; and, the Western Powers’ reactions to the growing international crisis.

International History (2) 1945-Present

This module examines the history of international relations from the end of the Second World War to the present day. In conjunction with International History I, this module emphasises the changing character of international politics over the course of the ‘Long Twentieth Century’. Particular emphasis will be given to the origins of the Cold War in Europe and Asia, decolonisation in Asia and Africa, the evolution of European unity, the rise and fall of superpower détente, the resurgent political and economic power of China and Japan, the causes and consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and concludes with the nature of international relations in the post-Cold War world and the conduct of the Global War on Terrorism.

Introduction to Contemporary Military History (1)

This module will give you an overview of military history in a contemporary context, from the French Revolution through the World Wars and to the end of the Cold War. You will view these in their wider social and political contexts, but mainly concentrating on the military evolution over time.

Introduction to Contemporary Military History (2)

This module is arranged chronologically from the end of the Great War in 1918 up to the end of the Cold War. This period began with an uneasy ‘inter-war’ phase in which each nation attempted to digest the lessons of the Great War, to be followed in 1939 by a still greater and more truly global conflict, which claimed some 60 million killed, and ended with the actual use of nuclear weapons.  Thereafter there was a ‘Cold War’ which lasted from 1946 to 1990, during which the highest science of strategy was concerned with high-tech inter-continental nuclear deterrence and the space race - but the wars actually fought on the ground were all highly ‘limited’ and normally low-tech in nature.  Even apparently major conflicts such as the Korean or Vietnam Wars remained recognisably similar to, and indeed often smaller than, the battles of 1939-45 or 1914-18.  Many wars were also fought by proxy, using relatively primitive guerrilla or para-military forces in theatres remote from centres of population and industry.  

During the decade since 1990/91 there have been some significant changes, especially improvements in high-tech conventional weaponry, with a reduction in the likelihood of major conventional conflict, but with a rise in counter-insurgency operations. The module will not progress beyond 1991, but in order to understand warfare since 1990/1991 it is essential to grasp how warfare developed between 1945 and the end of the Cold War.

In discussing these developments we will place each series of wars in its wider social and political context; but we will particularly concentrate upon its specifically military evolution in the following technical fields: strategy, operations, tactics, logistics, administration and technology.  We will analyse not only the ways in which these factors impacted upon the immediate outcome of the wars, but also the ways in which the developments in one war influenced the preparations for subsequent wars.

Global Intelligence

In this module you will examine intelligence at a global level, assessing the tools, tactics, and targets of foreign intelligence agencies.

Digital Skills for Politics and Contemporary History

In this module you will develop technical-practical skills to prepare you for a wide range of politics and history related careers. You will develop skills in writing, research, and presentations, and earn a wide range of industry-recognised certificates to bolster your CV.

Year two

Age of Revolution: International History 1775 - 1914

This module will provide a detailed analysis of the major themes and Global issues between the start of the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and the First World War in 1914. It’s main focus will be on the global outbreak of Revolutions globally, considering events in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. It also considers broader revolutions like the Industrial revolution, as well as the political and diplomatic development of the European alliance system. The module will also examine the major developments in cultural and social international history and will demonstrate how it is impossible to have an adequate grasp of the events of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries without first understanding the 'shape' of the century that preceded both of these.

Themes and Theories of War

Throughout the history of conflict, soldiers have developed theories in an attempt to understand the nature of wars and how to fight them. Today, many of these theories inform the decisions of military and political leaders. This module examines the ideas of several of the most influential theorists of war, including Sun Zi, Carl von Clausewitz, Antoine Henri Jomini, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and Sir Basil Liddell Hart. It also encourages students to use these theories as tools to enhance their study of historical and contemporary conflicts.

Researching in History

This module prepares you to become a researcher in history when you write a successful 12,000-word undergraduate history dissertation in Year three. It will give you a wider insight into the historical research methods appropriate to the historical discipline the diverse nature of historical sources and allows you to build vital analytical skills that you will employ on your dissertation. You will have the chance to visit and utilise local archives to enhance your research

Optional modules may include:

Air Power and Modern Warfare

This module will cover the evolution of air power since its conception in the early twentieth century. The course will commence by examining the implications which air power has born for warfare and military practice, and will then trace its development during the First World War and the interwar years, focusing on issues such as strategic bombing, tactical air support and naval air warfare.

Regimes and Dictatorships from 1918

This module is based on the comparative history of a number of different dictatorships, beginning at the end of World War I - examples include Italy, Spain, Germany, Chile, China, Greece, Uganda and Hungary.

Armoured Warfare

In this module you will examine the technical characteristics of tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), their development and the uses to which they have been put in ‘big wars’. In particular, an examination will be undertaken of the significance of armoured forces during both world wars, in the Vietnam War, in the Cold War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Gulf Wars of 1990-91 and 2003. At the same time, it is equally important that the military ideas which have driven the development of armoured warfare be understood

Intelligence, Security and Politics in Britain 1909-94

This module examines the British intelligence community from the birth of the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) in 1909 through to the 1994 Intelligence Services Act, exploring its activities primarily within the context of British domestic policy, while considering the links between the worlds of intelligence and politics. The module considers the reaction of the intelligence community to the Russian revolution, and its subsequent battle against the Soviet Union and Communism from the inter-war years through to the end of the Cold War.

University Wide Language Programme

This module provides the opportunity to learn or develop a language with the University-wide language programme.

Commemoration and Memorialisation from the Twentieth Century to the Present

Memory and commemoration of historical conflict, figures and events have become highly politicised in the twenty-first century. Remembrance has become the site of new cultural conflicts that often pit communities against political institutions with nationhood and identity as key factors in these battles. This module explores how the twentieth century saw the growth of commemoration of conflicts from the First World War which continued through the destruction and turmoil into the twenty-first century. 

US Political History

This module explores the development and complexities of US political history from 1789 to the present day. It offers an introduction to the social, political, economic, and cultural history of the US. The module considers race, gender, immigration, the emergence of the US as a global power, the Cold War at home and abroad, major social movements, political participation, and the media. 


Year three


A 12,000 word dissertation on a research topic of your own choosing under the guidance of a dedicated supervisor.

Optional modules may include:

The First World War

This module explores the First World War as a Total War. It alternates between a chronological examination of military operations and thematic coverage of issues such as economics, mobilisation, diplomacy, and revolutions.

Britain and the European Resistance 1939-45

This module explores Britain’s role in encouraging and supporting resistance movements in Europe during the Second World War through the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the organisation established in July 1940 and instructed by Churchill to ‘set Europe ablaze’. The module makes extensive use of surviving SOE documents, now available at the National Archives, and considers their value within the context of official release policy and censorship under Section 3 (4) of the Public Records Act.

Military Archive Placement Scheme

In the third year of your degree you will have the opportunity of spending the whole of your final semester working in a military archive. This is an excellent way of gaining work experience which can greatly enhance your employment prospects. It is also a great way to culminate your studies by getting your hands dirty in an archive – the “coalface” for any historian. Rather than doing normal modules at Salford, you would get involved in the day-to-day work of the archive, as well as carrying out a special archival project that will result in a written report that will be assessed like a normal essay. 

Military History Publishing Placement

British Counter-Insurgency Since 1945

This module allows you to examine Britain’s varied involvement in counter-insurgency operations since 1945. After an initial engagement with the theories and principles of insurgency and counter-insurgency, the module will cover the cases of Kenya, Malaya, Northern Ireland, Britain’s continuing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some lesser known cases.

Photography and Conflict in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Since the announcement of its invention in 1839, the medium of photography has influenced human activity in fields as diverse as science and leisure, politics and personal relationships. Nowhere has its impact been more dramatic, however, than in the representation of conflict during the 20th century.

Addressing the photography of conflict, using Britain as its primary case study from the start of World War I to the 21st century, this module takes a critical approach to a range of photographic imagery made and circulated in times of conflict including press, amateur, protest and even fine art photography. It also examines the importance of news images in shaping public attitudes to conflict.

US Conflict in History and Memory

This module explores American conflicts in history and memory. It takes a chronological approach from colonial conflict to the 21st century and evaluates five conflicts. Each conflict will be dissected over two weeks – the first week will look at the history of the conflict itself, and the second week will look at how the conflict is remembered. The course considers how experience of war has shaped Americans' identities and definitions of citizenship, as well as the relationships among memory, place, and political power. Students’ will engage with the collective memory of war and peace as they examine questions of whose histories are remembered and forgotten, the ways myths of war are created for political purpose, definitions of heroism, and how memories of war shift over time.

University Wide Language Programme

This module provides the opportunity to learn or develop a language with the University-wide language programme.

The Pacific War, 1937-45

This module examines the relatively under-explored Second World War in Asia and the Pacific, starting with the first dimension of Japan’s conflict, namely the creeping expansion and war in China, before examining the second aspect of Tokyo’s war with the Anglo-American powers from late-1941. As well as exploring the Japanese, American and British dimensions, the unit will also cover the “other” actors and elements in the Pacific War story, such as Australia, India and the USSR, together with the themes of clandestine warfare, industrial production, and crimes in warfare. Inter-woven within each weekly topic will be the experiences of commanders, soldiers, POWs and civilians.

Intelligence and Cyber Warfare

This will give you the chance to consider cyber warfare’s role as both an intelligence challenge and an opportunity.

Chinese Foreign Policy Since 1949

The module provides a comprehensive introduction to Chinese foreign policy since 1949 in terms of its history, traditions and characteristics; examines the key economic, diplomatic, security and geopolitical issues so as to identify and explain Chinese foreign policy goals and their implementation; explores the sources of conflict, competition and cooperation in Chinese foreign policy behaviours, assessing competing theoretical explanations in International Relations for key events and policies. Moreover, the module investigates the implications of China’s rise for the distribution of power at the international and regional levels as well as for global governance.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


As part of this contemporary military history and international history, your timetable will include a breakdown of your scheduled lessons with timeslots for you to explore your independent research interests. Your classes will be based at our Peel Park campus.

You will benefit from a diverse range of teaching methods. 

Lectures will be where you gain an overview of the key concepts, ideas and events that relate to politics and contemporary history.

You’ll then be able to discuss these topics in more depth with your fellow students in seminars.

Workshops will give you the opportunity to learn and develop core skills that will be vital to your success on this course, and your wider career. Alongside your studies, you’ll also partake in debates, constructing and putting forward compelling arguments on a variety of issues.

A large portion of your studies will be managed by you, meaning that you will be in control of the direction and pace of your work. Finally, you will also be assigned a personal tutor who will be on hand to help you with all aspects of your studies.


Assessments will be an important part of your academic journey. They will help you to refine crucial skills that you can transfer into your career, as well as give you an indication of which areas you need to improve on. You will be assessed through a variety of methods, such as essays, presentations, podcasts, literature reviews, and portfolios. You will get feedback for each module as you progress, prior to taking your final assessment.


All our Politics and History courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things.

Each year - through the Create Student Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students.

Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?


Alongside the specialist subject matter, when you study military history with us you will also acquire excellent transferrable skill sets. These come in the form of research, communication, writing and presentation skills – all of which are highly sought after by employers.

Acquiring these vital skills will enable you to pursue a wide variety of career avenues, such as roles in the police, the armed forces, the private security sector, teaching, further study (including postgraduate research), and many others. 


Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further postgraduate path through our Postgraduate programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.

A taste of what you could become

A Historian

A Teacher

A Researcher

A Writer

And more...

Career Links

This Contemporary Military and International History course offers the chance to be taught and supervised by staff who have links to many academic and professional organisations, such as the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force.


What you need to know


Are you a budding historian? Are you captivated by war and the politics that surround it? If you have a keen interest in academia and are highly motivated, we want to hear from you.

To gain a place on this military history course, we’re looking for applicants who have good writing and analytical skills, and if you can provide evidence of having existing knowledge in this subject area, that’s even better.

You’ll also have to submit a personal statement and meet our entry requirements. A personal statement is a personal summary (360 to 500 words) of your academic, professional/life experience and future goals. We’ll want to understand:

  • what motivates you and what you’ve learnt on your current academic journey;
  • your future career aspirations;
  • why the University of Salford and this course is right your future goals.

Do you want to know more about this military history degree? You can sign-up to an Open Day or attend a campus tour.

Our supportive course enquiries team can help you with any general questions you may have. You can also explore all of our History and Politics courses.

Standard entry requirements


English Language at grade C/level 4 or above (or equivalent) is required. Maths at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) is preferred but not essential.

You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.

UCAS tariff points

104-112 points.

A level

104-112 points.

T level


BTEC National Diploma


Access to HE

96-112 points

Scottish Highers

96 - 112 points

Irish Leaving Certificate

96 - 112 points

International Baccalaureate

29 points

European Baccalaureate

Pass Diploma with 69% overall 

International students

We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0, no element below 5.5, is proof of this. 

We also accept a range of other English language qualifications. If you do not have the English language requirements, you could take our Pre-Sessional English course

Alternative entry requirements

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

How Much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2024/25 £9,250.00per year
Full-time international 2024/25 £15,720.00per year
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,250.00per year
Full-time international 2025/26 £16,500.00per year

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships for International Students

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships. Explore our international scholarships.

Apply now

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Enrolment dates

September 2024

September 2025

UCAS information

Course ID VV13

Institution S03