About the MA programme
Our world is more interconnected than ever. We call it globalisation, but without good histories to explain how we got here, we cannot begin to know where we are heading.
This master's programme at Columbia and LSE will ask students to explore our world by studying the forces that have been remaking it: migration, trade, technological revolutions, epidemic disease, environmental change, wars and diplomacy.
Working with preeminent historians in the field, students will analyse large-scale historical processes, pursue empirical research, and produce their own comparative and cross-cultural histories.
The study of international and world history - as opposed to the study of the exclusive histories and historiographies of individual countries - is an emerging field of research that is slowly changing our perspectives on the development of politics and societies. These developments are seen as inseparably linked to the movement of people and ideas back and forth across oceans and territories.
The internationalisation of the study of history has also led to a renewed interest in what larger regions of the world have in common – and in what separates them from each other – in terms of political concepts and cultural values. As a result, the study of encounters between states or societies has gone through several new phases, which together have revolutionised our understanding of cultural and economic dissemination as well as of war, diplomacy, empires and transnational institutions. Finally, efforts are being made to integrate the histories of ethnicity and gender into this internationalising framework and to study the influence of these aspects of human history upon both peaceful cooperation and exchange and upon forms of violent conflict.
The further development of the study of international history in this broad sense depends on the internationalisation of the training and skills of the next generation of experts. The LSE - Columbia University Double Degree in International and World History draws on the faculties of two of the world's leading centres of international affairs, which have the expertise and commitment to provide the training and skills needed. It offers close contact in seminars and colloquia with mentors in different intellectual and cultural settings in two global cities.
Compulsory language requirement
The ability to comprehend multiple languages is important to the study of international and world history. There is no language requirement for entry into the programme. However, in order to graduate from the programme, students must fulfil a language requirement in one of four different ways:
by taking two years of language training while at Columbia and LSE.
by taking and passing two translation exams. (Both translation exams must be taken at Columbia.)
by taking and passing one translation exam and studying a language for one year, either at Columbia or at LSE.
by taking and passing an intensive summer language course (that equals the same number of credits as a year-long language course) combined with either a passed language exam or an additional year of language classes.
Students have the choice between focusing on a single language or splitting the requirement between two different languages. It is possible to continue further study of a language after a student has passed the translation exam in that language.
In London, the LSE - Columbia Double Degree in International and World History is run by LSE's Department of International History; and in New York the degree is run by Columbia’s History Department. It provides the chance to study international and world history from the early modern era up to today in an environment that emphasises broad study, global perspectives, and intellectual debate.
At the heart of the MA programme is a two-year dissertation, a piece of original scholarly work based on detailed empirical research and analysis. The dissertation is supported by a sequence of three core courses taken at Columbia and LSE, as well as a large range of courses that allow for specialisation and language study.
The programme offers numerous benefits:
two master's degrees - an MA from Columbia University and an MSc from LSE - from two of the top universities for history and the social sciences. At Columbia and LSE, students will have the opportunity to take courses in several subject areas as well as in other world-class departments, while at the same time engaging in rigorous language training
a research oriented programme which goes far beyond classroom study. Students will design original projects while working closely with staff who offer expertise in an immense variety of geographical regions and research methodologies
engagement with vibrant intellectual communities, including the opportunity to participate in seminars, debates, and public lectures offered by LSE IDEAS, the LSE’s Centre for Diplomacy and Strategy, and the Centre for International History at Columbia, among others
flexibility to tailor programmes to diverse interests and divergent career paths. Those with a history background can focus on cutting-edge fields of research and prepare themselves for PhD study. Others can develop historical expertise, writing skills, and language training as part of a career in international affairs. The programme is designed to attract a diverse student body with complementary interests, including teaching, journalism and public or private administration
the opportunity to develop life-long contacts on both sides of the Atlantic, using LSE and Columbia as launching pads for careers combining intellectual and professional development
Year one: Columbia
In the first year of the programme students are required to complete 30 credits, including the core components of the programme: Approaches to International and Global History and MA/MSc Research Skills and Methods Workshop. At least 22 of these credits must be courses in the History Department. Most students must also take a course (or courses) to meet their language requirement (see below). Students can also take courses outside of the History Department, provided that both the MA director (Dr Line Lillevik) and the course instructor approve.
In January of their first year, students identify a topic for their dissertation. When the students have finalised their thesis topics in MA/MSc Research Skills and Methods Workshop, one Columbia adviser and one LSE adviser are designated to advise and guide them through completion of the dissertation in year two at LSE.
Approaches to International and Global History introduces students to the conceptual possibilities and problems of international and world history.
MA/MSc Research Skills and Methods Workshop is a series of practical workshops including training in the use of archives and other primary sources, the organisation and documentation of research, and presentation and publication of findings.
History Department options at Columbia vary significantly from semester to semester. Up-to-date course offerings can be found on Columbia University's Directory of Classes.
Please note that the course offerings for the Fall semester will be available in mid-March. Each course runs for a semester only, and some require permission of the instructor.
Year two: LSE
At LSE, students are required to complete three full units in addition to the final core component of the programme: the LSE-CU Dissertation Workshop. At least two of these three units must be chosen from the wide range of international history and economic history course offerings. Students may complete their third unit in another department at LSE, provided that both the double degree's academic director and the teacher responsible for the course approve.
All students are required to take the year-long Dissertation Workshop, which is designed to help students write their dissertations and think about where they would like to take their careers. It provides a specialised forum for discussion and debate on what it means to write history and be an historian.
The dissertation itself – a master's thesis in the American system – must be no more than 15,000 words in length and is due in the first week of the Summer term. It is supervised and assessed at LSE in accordance with its MSc regulations.
Please read the following important information before referring to full details of course options found in the Programme Regulations.
The programme regulations available are for the current academic session and may be subject to change before the beginning of the next academic year. For more information about course availability in the next academic session, please contact the relevant academic department. The School reserves the right at all times to withdraw, suspend or alter particular courses and syllabuses, and to alter the level of fees. Courses are on occasion capped (limited to a maximum number of students) or subject to entry conditions requiring the approval of the course convenor. The School cannot guarantee that places on specific courses will be available.
While many dual degree students go on to undertake PhDs, some choose to apply the insights gained to a career outside of academia, including journalism, public policy, non-profit, or the private sector.