MA in Latin American History

Please note: unfortunately this programme will not be running for September 2013 entry.

The MA in Latin American History covers a wide chronological range, from indigenous politics to colonial encounters, from the struggles for independence to 21st-century globalisation. You will be able to immerse yourself in the multi-disciplinary study of this fascinating region.


You will take one mandatory core unit, and then offered a choice from a range of optional units, taught by specialists in each research area and delivered through a series of ten weekly seminars of two hours each. You may be expected to prepare short presentations for some of these seminars; you will certainly be expected to participate fully in discussion.

The core unit, Critical Questions in Latin American Historiography, offers a chance for the whole MA group to meet together, away from the smaller optional groups.


The 15,000 word dissertation is produced independently and is a piece of original research, which must involve the use of primary sources. You will work closely with a carefully selected adviser, but the dissertation is your own work, reflecting your creative and intellectual capacities as well as your research skills. The choice of subject is your own, but help and guidance will be provided in the process of identifying a suitable topic and defining its focus.

Some funding is available to enable students to travel to Latin America to conduct research for their dissertation, via the Santander Travel Grants Scheme. Bristol has agreements with a wide range of Latin American universities which can be utilised for masters-level researchers going on to conduct dissertation research in Latin American archives. These include the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad Católica de Santiago de Chile, and many universities in Mexico and Brazil. For students working on colonial history, we have links with the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla, Spain, where many of the colonial archives are kept.

All postgraduate students are considered full members of the Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, and as such are warmly encouraged to participate in seminars, conferences and other research activities. This year, the department is hosting a series of Conservatorios, conversations in Latin American Studies with cutting-edge writers and researchers.

Structure overview

The MA starts in October each year, and runs for 12 months. The taught component comprises three core units and three optional units which are taught over two Teaching Blocks. The research component, the Dissertation, is written over the Summer and submitted in September.

Teaching Block 1 (Autumn)Teaching Block 2 (Spring)Summer
Critical Questions in Latin American History Research Skills Dissertation
Language unit or Themes in Colonialism Option 2  
Option 1 Option 3  

Part-time students will normally take the core units in their first year, and stagger the optional units over the two years. They will work on the dissertation over the final summer.

Core units

Optional units

The remainder of the taught programme will comprise three further optional units, drawn from any relevant programme within the Faculty of Arts.  The list of units available will vary from year to year, but the following is a brief indication of the wider range.


Towards the end of Teaching Block 2, you will start to discuss possible topics for your dissertation with your tutors.  You are encouraged to devise your topic as a research question, or series of questions, you would like to investigate, rather than as a descriptive narrative.  After the Easter vacation you will submit a written proposal, and once your topic, and your chosen adviser, have been agreed and approved, you will start to drive the process yourself.  You will be able to meet with your adviser over the summer months, for supervision, but the dissertation is an original piece of research, and will reflect your own skills and interests. 

The dissertation is submitted in the middle of September.

Further details, key facts and application information is available on our online prospectus pages for this course.

Course prospectus

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Claire Thomas, PG Italian