Specialized Major Master’s Degree Programme 90 “History of the Contemporary World/ Zeitgeschichte” at the University of Zurich

General Description

The specialized Major Master’s degree programme, “History of the Contemporary World/ Zeitgeschichte” at the University of Zurich (UZH) offers students an opportunity to study the historical processes of social change and conflict as they shape the present. The programme will enable students to develop historical analyses of the modern world, as well as to understand the challenges of writing history in a digitized, globalized world.

The course curriculum includes research-oriented seminars, cooperations with archives and museums, and the teaching of digital methodologies for the study of history. The master degree programme is research-oriented and interdisciplinary. It combines exclusive modules (only offered to “History of the Contemporary World / Zeitgeschichte” students) with other modules offered in the Department of History’s Modern History general master’s programme.

The main language of the master’s degree programme is German. Seminars and assignments will likely also be offered in English. No Latin language skills are required. Computer skills are welcome, but not required.

Begin of study and Admission Process

Course Curriculum

A. Exclusive Courses

1. Seminar: Introduction to Zeitgeschichte

Compulsory module; fall semester; two-semester; 12 ECTS

The reading-based seminar will introduce important works of reference, theoretical positions, and methodical tools central to the study of contemporary history / Zeitgeschichte. The seminar’s objectives are for students to analyse and understand the historicity of contemporary social change and conflict, and to enable students to participate in controversies and debates about the present. The main focus of the seminar will be to discuss challenging texts, and thereby to practice the skills of giving short, sharp oral interventions as well as writing concise essays. Students are expected to write an independent analysis of debates concerning Zeitgeschichte as part of their seminar paper. The seminar paper should be written during the second (spring) semester, when seminar classes have already been completed.

2. Exercise: Archives, Technologies, Media

Core elective module; fall semester; two-semester; 9 ECTS

This practice-based module explores the methods and materiality of research into Zeitgeschichte in cooperation with archives, museums, and other memory institutions. The module is research-oriented and aims to analyse new research perspectives based on the use of different archives. It also considers questions such as how archival theory and praxis may be considered against the backdrop of postcolonial perspectives and media theory approaches. Students will receive support in establishing independent research interests that engage institutions of memory and oral traditions.

3. Exercise: History in a digitized world

Core elective module; spring semester; two-semester; 9 ECTS

The practice-based module gives a methodological and theoretical introduction to the challenges of historiography in a digitalized world. The module considers questions such as how digital practices alter the production and archiving of knowledge, and what geopolitical and epistemic implications arise from such practices. In combination with tutorials, the module’s objective is to introduce students to basic skills in programming, to a general knowledge of digital infrastructures (concerning text, image, sound, statistics), and eventually to provide a discursive space for students test methods of research into the history of digitalization. The module is research-led and encourages students to experiment both with their acquired skills in their writing praxis and with digital forms of presenting their findings.

B. Elective Courses

Beside exclusive courses, students can choose from the two following non-exclusive core elective courses of the general MA-programme “History”: “Perspectives in Global History” and “Modern Cultural and Media History”. Additional modules offered by the Department of History—such as colloquia and lectures with a focus on modern history and East European history—will allow students to position themselves within different fields of research.

C. Master’s Thesis and Exam

To receive a Master of Arts degree, students are required to attend two research colloquia organized by the MA thesis supervisor, write a Master’s thesis, and pass an oral exam.

Career opportunities

Graduates of the specialized Master’s degree programme will be qualified to pursue a research or teaching career in the field of modern history and digital history. They will also able to work in archives, memory institutions, media companies, cultural institutions, international organizations, NGOs, in the public service or in private companies which require an understanding of social change and conflict in the contemporary world.