The British Commission for Maritime History


For those who wish to expand their study of maritime history there are many universities in Britain offering degrees in the subject. Several have specific maritime history research centres. These centres offer specialised courses from Undergraduate Degrees to Masters courses and Doctorates in maritime and naval history, and increasingly there are opportunities to study via distance learning.

Courses range from maritime archaeology to maritime history and you will find many at which show a range of postgraduate courses.

Among the BMCH trustees are representatives from the main academic maritime research centres in Britain.

Research centres

Below are some of the dedicated Research Centres that specialise in Maritime and Naval history:

MA and PhD at the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, University of Exeter

The Centre was the first of its kind in a British university. It can call on a wide range of expertise in maritime historical studies within the university and seeks to promote research into economic, social, political, naval and environmental aspects of the British maritime past from the earliest times to the present day. The MA in Maritime History includes modules on technology, trade, ports, exploration, mariners and fishing. The medieval and early modern module explores European maritime expansion and the creation of commercial empires. The MA in Naval History has modules on British naval power in the era of sail, 1650 to 1815, and in the era of steam and motor, 1816 to 1945. It examines the contribution of sea power as an instrument of defence and conquest, and the Navy as a part of society. In each MA, students research and write a dissertation on their chosen topic. These courses can be taken part time over 2 years or fulltime in 1 year.

For more information on MA, Mhil or PhD programmes, contact Dr Maria Fusaro, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ.

MA in Maritime History, MA by research in Maritime Studies, MPhil, PhD at University of Greenwich

Located in the iconic setting of the Old Royal Naval College, the Greenwich Maritime Institute (GMI) offers a unique environment for the study of maritime topics and offers an array of postgraduate courses on both contemporary and historical subjects. Our taught MA in Maritime History gives equal weight to mercantile and naval aspects of maritime history, with courses focusing on the Royal Navy since the seventeenth century, and the development of merchant shipping, ports and fisheries to the present day, as well as marine environmental history. We also offer a unique ‘Case Studies in Maritime History’ course, during which an array of scholars share their research insights and expertise with students, as well as courses on sources, methods and archives designed to prepare students for the 20,000-word dissertation. Alternatively, students can take a research masters, with a smaller taught element and a dissertation of up to 40,000 words. All MA courses can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two. We also run an annual programme of one-day courses, details of which can be found on our website

Further information can be obtained from the Greenwich Maritime Institute, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS, UK. Tel: +44 0208 331 7688.

Maritime History at the University of Hull

The Maritime Historical Studies Centre is located in the historical Blaydes House in the 'Old Town' in Hull. The Centre offers a part–time Certificate and a Diploma in Maritime History by Distance Learning and an MA in History with Maritime History.

For further information about these programmes or the PhD programme, contact Dr Richard Gorski, Department of History, University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK. Tel: +44 01482 465183.

MA in Maritime and Imperial History Swansea University

The MA in Maritime and Imperial History combines elements of local (Welsh) maritime history with modules offering coverage of global themes, enabling candidates to develop their interests in maritime and imperial history, either as training for future PhD research, or as a self-contained course of study.

The MA is built around one core course which enables candidates to explore a range of thematic and conceptual approaches to the study of maritime and imperial history, and a second, 'Making Maritime and Imperial History', which is a practical skills-based group project involving the application of collaborative research to the development of materials to be used in a public history and heritage context. Students also take three elective modules. The MA culminates in a dissertation written under the supervision of one of specialist staff in the Department.

For further information contact Professor Huw Bowen. Tel: +44 (0) 1792 60235.