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International Slavery Studies

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Master of Arts

A Master of Arts (MA) is a master’s degree awarded for a postgraduate programme in the arts.

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Course overview

Join a programme that places you at the forefront of investigations into the histories, legacies and commemorations of human enslavement and unfree labour. This MA combines historical perspectives with global insights into modern manifestations of slavery, forced labour and human trafficking.


Exploring the history of unfree labour and examining modern slavery, this MA reflects a growing interest in the histories and afterlives of transatlantic slavery.

The programme connects the local and the global. We’ll reflect, for example, on Liverpool’s role as the former ‘capital of the slave trade’ and review slave and unfree labour across different time periods and geographical locations.

We’ll challenge you to analyse historical forms of slavery and critique modern responses to human trafficking. Evaluating the legacies of slavery in contemporary society, you’ll apply critical and literary theories to different representations of slavery. Links with resistance, protest and activism will also be considered.

You’ll benefit from our unique relationship with the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. Working with the Museum’s staff, you’ll study the commemoration and memorialisation of slavery. An optional project-based placement provides further opportunity to gain practical experience with a museum, archive or charity.

Membership of the University’s Centre for the Study of International Slavery will enable you to access a variety of seminars and conferences. You’ll meet international speakers at these events, attend talks and discuss cutting-edge research into historical and contemporary manifestations of slavery.

What you'll learn

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of slavery and unfree labour, both historically and in the modern world
  • Key methodologies and practices in international slavery research
  • A range of chronological, geographical and cultural contexts for enslavement, forced labour and human trafficking
  • The histories and afterlives of transatlantic slavery, including the role of the city of Liverpool
  • The challenges of modern slavery as a subject of academic study
  • Connections between slavery and activism, resistance and protest, as well as migration and human rights
  • How slavery is represented in films, images, novels and other media
  • Record-keeping structures, traditions and practices around the world
  • How to think independently, critically and creatively when working with complex material.

Course content

Discover what you'll learn, what you'll study, and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Studying this course part-time

International students may be able to study this course on a part-time basis but this is dependent on visa regulations. Please visit the Government website for more information about student visas.

If you're able to study part-time, you'll study the same modules as the full-time master's degree over a longer period, usually 24 months. You can make studying work for you by arranging your personal schedule around lectures and seminars which take place during the day. After you complete all the taught modules, you will complete your final dissertation or project and will celebrate your achievements at graduation the following term.

Studying part-time means you can study alongside work or any other life commitments. You will study the same modules as the full-time master's degree over a longer period, usually 24 months. You can make studying work for you by arranging your personal schedule around lectures and seminars which take place during the day. After you complete all the taught modules, you will complete your final dissertation or project and will celebrate your achievements at graduation the following term.

Modern Slavery pathway

On the Modern Slavery pathway all modules are compulsory.

POLI516 is a whole session module and represents 15-credits in each semester.

Compulsory modules


Credits: 30 / Semester: semester 1

The module will provide an interdisciplinary overview of slavery studies, ensuring that all students on the MAIS programme have a clear and inclusive understanding of enslavement as a historical and contemporary phenomenon. The emphasis will be on conceptual and theoretical approaches to slavery and unfree labour, providing students with broad knowledge of the chronological, geographical and cultural contexts in which these phenomena exist and the approaches that researcher adopt to analyse them. The module will provide a focus that links the local with the global, ensuring that students understand the role of Liverpool in the transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans whilst also engaging with enslavement in national, transnational and global frames.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

Research methods in social science encompass a vast array of techniques meant to guide research of social, political and human behavior. This is a challenging and exciting enterprise. This module will introduce you to some of the most used methods in social science. We will start by defining the research process and the fundamental features of research design before covering a number of qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of political phenomena. The aim is to equip you with the vital skills required to conduct research in political science and international relations and to provide the advanced knowledge required to undertake a dissertation at Masters level.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module requires students to engage with the politics around efforts to tackle contemporary forms of exploitation often categorised as ‘slavery’, to consider the origins and human experience of such activities, to assess policies for combating them, and to apply this to an independent research project. Seminars will challenge students to analyse the major themes in legal and political responses to trafficking, forced labour and other forms of human rights abuse analogous to slavery. Students will develop strategies for researching practices and policies relating to contemporary ‘slaveries’ and they will develop an independent study of a particular aspect.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

Students will work with an appropriate tutor to design a programme of research for a M-Level dissertation. The student and tutor will agree on the appropriate methodology and disciplinary referencing conventions for the project.


Credits: 30 / Semester: semester 2

This module explores a series of dissident perspectives in international politics which evaluate how the study of international affairs exists as part of a continuum of empire. Examining the core features of different knowledge traditions emanating from postcolonial theory, decolonial methodologies and non-western thought, and critical positions in geography, history, sociology, and legal studies; this module situates the study of international politics with each of their epistemic stances, methodologies, and distinctive themes. We will evaluate what are often regarded to be the core concepts of International Relations theorisation (e.g., the treaty of Westphalia, liberalism, realism) and topical events like far- Right extremism, climate change, the Migrant Crisis, and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, with the diverse socio-political and ethical commitments that exist within the interdisciplinary field of anti-colonialism. This includes ideas of decolonization, abolitionist thought, reparative justice, and world repair.

Programme details and modules listed are illustrative only and subject to change.

Our curriculum

The Liverpool Curriculum framework sets out our distinctive approach to education. Our teaching staff support our students to develop academic knowledge, skills, and understanding alongside our graduate attributes:

  • Digital fluency
  • Confidence
  • Global citizenship

Our curriculum is characterised by the three Liverpool Hallmarks:

  • Research-connected teaching
  • Active learning
  • Authentic assessment

All this is underpinned by our core value of inclusivity and commitment to providing a curriculum that is accessible to all students.

Your experience

The Department of History is based in the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures, an ornate Georgian property located on historic Abercromby Square. Students have access to extensive library facilities, special collections and Liverpool’s renowned museums, libraries and galleries, including the University of Liverpool’s own Special Collections and Archives.

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Supporting your learning

From arrival to alumni, we’re with you all the way:

Why History at University of Liverpool?

  • we have a breath of expertise and knowledge that spans the medieval, early modern and modern periods and research across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. We are here to support you in your specific research interests.
  • We have active seminar programmes, linked to our research centres and MA programmes, enabling staff and postgraduates to present their work and listen to eminent visiting speakers.
  • Dedicated small group teaching in seminars or workshops and through one-to-one tutorials, we believe this leads to the best collaboration between students and staff
  • Students have a voice here and are represented on the School Postgraduate Committee. There is also a dedicated staff – student liaison committee to oversee our MA and PhD programmes.

What students say...

The University of Liverpool is one of the few universities in the UK that offers an MA programme specifically dedicated to the study of both historical and modern slavery. This means that the programme benefits from being led by a cohort of academics who are extremely committed to furthering academic research in this particular field of study and supporting students with an interest in it.

, MA International Slavery Studies

Careers and employability

Developing your skills in communication, collaborative working, critical thinking and research are key features of the programme.

We’ll immerse you in public-facing thinking and activity on a regional, national and international basis. You’ll graduate able to demonstrate organisational skills, teamwork, time management, personal initiative and responsibility to potential employers.

After graduating, engaging with the Centre for the Study of International Slavery’s external partners, across the Liverpool and Merseyside region and beyond, could provide opportunities for you to collaborate on original research that provides new insights.

Career planning

Three career coaches standing outside the Careers Studio

Our campus Career Studio is a space for students and graduates to drop into and talk to a career coach. Career coaches are highly trained to help no matter what stage you are at in your career planning. You can access support to find and apply for full-time and part-time roles, placements, internships and graduate schemes. You will also find the help you need if you have a start-up idea or want to create a business plan. You can explore the world of work, prepare for job interviews, and access careers events and workshops. The Career Studio is open Monday to Friday from 10am-5pm, simply drop in at a time that works for you.

From education to employment

Two graduates in postgraduate robes.

We develop our programmes with employers in mind. You will be supported to enhance your long-term employment prospects as you learn. We do this by exposing you to professionals, a variety of sectors and supporting you to work collaboratively with others to develop transferable skills. You are equipped with a clearer view of what to focus on in your area of interest, and to reflect on your studies. Our digital employability tools give you a tech-enhanced curriculum experience and make it easy for you to prepare for the world of work. You can use tools like the Handshake platform to connect with employers and message the Career Studio 24/7.

Networking events

Postgraduate students hold a discussion while sat round a table in in the Liverpool Guild of Students.

You can start building good professional networks by attending events and employability activities. Our events are designed to develop your skills and expose you to many different employers, as well as to help you make contacts in your field. We help you improve your confidence when speaking to employers and give you access to unique opportunities. Our networking events also boost your understanding of the competencies and skills that employers are looking for in their recruitment process, giving you a competitive edge.

Your future

This MA delivers ideal training if you are seeking an academic career in the field of slavery and unfree labour. It also provides a solid foundation for broader careers in education, the cultural sector and third sector industries.

Potential opportunities include:

  • Research positions, for example in central or local government, journalism, police, leisure and heritage, business, public affairs, and politics.
  • Public education and custodianship, for example museums, schools and galleries.
  • Consultancies and activist positions, for example in national and international governmental and non-governmental organisations, charities, and community-based and grassroots organisations focused on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights. This includes Anti-Slavery International and various bodies of the United Nations.

You may also decide to continue your studies to PhD level. Your research could focus on the study of slavery, dependence and subordination, or explore particular historical, political and social dimensions of these subjects.

Fees and funding

Your tuition fees, funding your studies, and other costs to consider.

Tuition fees

UK fees (applies to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)
Full-time place, per year £10,800
Part-time place, per year £5,400
International fees
Full-time place, per year £22,400
Part-time place, per year £11,200
Fees stated are for the 2024-25 academic year.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching and assessment, operating facilities such as libraries, IT equipment, and access to academic and personal support.

If you're a UK national, or have settled status in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan worth up to £12,167 to help with course fees and living costs. Learn more about paying for your studies..

Additional costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.

Find out more about the additional study costs that may apply to this course.

Additional study costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.

Find out more about additional study costs.

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries that could help pay your tuition and living expenses.

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Postgraduate Global Advancement Scholarship

  • International students

If you’re a new international student starting this course with us from September 2024, you could be eligible to receive a discount of £5,000 off your tuition fees.

Graduate Loyalty Advancement Scholarship

  • Home and international students
  • University of Liverpool current students and alumni only

Completed your undergraduate degree, or studied as an undergraduate exchange student, at the University of Liverpool?

You could get a loyalty discount of up to £2,500 off the tuition fees for this course from September 2024 entry.

  • £1,500 tuition fee discount for eligible UK University of Liverpool graduates
  • £2,500 tuition fee discount for eligible international University of Liverpool graduates.

ANID Chile Scholarship

  • International students
  • Chile

Postgraduate taught and research students from Chile are eligible for this scholarship.

Chevening Scholarships

  • International students

The University, in partnership with Chevening, is delighted to offer this generous scholarship to students who are studying a master’s programme and who have future leadership potential. Please note that there is a fee cap applied to MBA programmes that requires applicants to cover any additional tuition costs over £18,000. You will still receive all additional allowances.


  • International students
  • Mexico

The University of Liverpool has an agreement with CONACYT to support postgraduate taught and research students from Mexico.


  • International students
  • Mexico

20% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate taught and research programmes. Must be Mexico national.

Fulbright Scholarship

  • International students
  • University of Liverpool alumni only
  • United States

One scholarship is available for a master’s student from the US and another is available for a postgraduate research student to undertake a three to six month research stay from the US

FUNED Awards

  • International students
  • Mexico

Up to ten awards are available for Masters or Research students from Mexico in receipt of FUNED loans. The award gives students a 20% reduction in fees for all applications received.

Graduate Association Hong Kong & Tung Postgraduate Scholarships

  • International students
  • China
  • Hong Kong

The University is able to offer competitive scholarships for both postgraduate taught master’s and research programmes.

HLC Scholarships for Postgraduate Study

  • Home and international students

The competition is open to all students who have applied for a relevant HLC programme by 3 July and commence study in the course in the first semester of 2023.

The HLC School comprises the following Departments:

  • Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology
  • History
  • Irish Studies
  • Languages, Cultures and Film
  • Politics

HRH Princess Sirindhorn University of Liverpool Scholarship (Thailand)

  • International students
  • Thailand

The University is able to offer one award to a new postgraduate taught master’s student from Thailand.

The scholarship is open to all subjects offered as a one-year taught master’s programme.  However, priority will be given to those students who wish to study in a subject area associated with HRH Princess Sirindhorn such as science, IT, medicine, the arts, geography, history and languages.

International Slavery Scholarships

  • Home students

The School of Histories, Languages and Cultures are offering two Scholarships to Black British students in 2023/24 The scholarships are open to students applying for the MA in International Slavery Studies at the University, beginning in September 2023.

The scholarship will be open to two students in the 2023/24 academic year and will cover the full cost of tuition fees and a £10,000 bursary.

JuventudEsGto Scholarship

  • International students
  • Mexico

Residents of State of Guanajuato, Mexico, wishing to study at postgraduate taught and research levels are eligible for this scholarship.

Marshall Scholarship

  • International students
  • University of Liverpool alumni only
  • United States

One scholarship is available for a master’s student from the US to cover the cost of tuition fees. Another, to the value of £20,000, is available for Doctoral study visit:

Scholarships for Postgraduate Study in History

  • Home and international students

The Department of History is pleased to invite applications for four scholarships to support full-time Master’s-level (1 year) students in their postgraduate studies.  Successful candidates will receive a fee reduction of £5,000.

The competition is open to all students who have applied for a relevant History programme by 30th June and will commence study in the 2023/24 academic year.

Relevant programmes are:

  • Archives MRes
  • Archives and Records Management MARM/PGDipARM
  • Archives and Records Management (International Pathway) MARMI
  • History MRes
  • History: Cultural History MA
  • History: Eighteenth-Century Worlds MA
  • History: Medieval and Renaissance Studies MA
  • History: Twentieth-Century History MA
  • International Slavery Studies MA

Turkish Ministry of Education Scholarship

  • International students
  • Turkey

Postgraduate taught and research students from Turkey are eligible for this scholarship, see the Turkish Ministry of Education website for more information.

University of Liverpool Humanitarian Scholarships for Master’s Programmes

  • International students

The three awards available cover full tuition fees, visas and support for accommodation and living expenses.

This scholarship is open to support people who have recognised status as either refugees or are under humanitarian protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention. This status must be held outside of the UK.

The scholarship is open for all postgraduate-taught programmes, excluding medicine, dentistry, veterinary and nursing.

University of Liverpool International College Excellence Scholarship

  • International students

The University of Liverpool will award five University of Liverpool International College students, who achieve the highest academic excellence (minimum 75%) in their UoLIC Pre-Master’s programme, the prestigious UoLIC Excellence scholarship.

University of Liverpool International College Impact Progression Scholarships

  • International students

University of Liverpool International College recipients of the Kaplan awards will receive the £3,000 Progression Impact Scholarship, deducted from first-year tuition fees, on successful progression to their UoL degree programme.

To be eligible for our Impact Progression Scholarships, students must apply for one of the Kaplan Impact Scholarships demonstrating their commitment to making an impact across issues of importance to the University and Kaplan. Themes include:

Women in STEM
Career Focus (Employability)

Vice-Chancellor’s International Attainment Scholarship for China

  • International students
  • China

Details are:
1 (one) Full scholarship
2 (two) £10,000 scholarships
5 (five) £5,000 scholarships
10 (ten) £1,000 scholarships
All scholarships will be awarded after the formal registration at the University and will take the form of a fee waiver.

Please note: This scholarship cannot be combined with any other scholarships or bursaries provided by the University.

Entry requirements

The qualifications and exam results you'll need to apply for this course.

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Your qualification Requirements

About our typical entry requirements

Postgraduate entry requirements

You will normally need a 2:1 honours degree or above, or equivalent, in History or a related discipline.

A personal statement, which clearly demonstrates an interest in the programme and an understanding of its context, is also required.

An interview may form part of the selection process. If you’re invited to interview, you’ll be requested to submit a sample of your historical analysis, between 1,500 and 2,500 words in English, for discussion. Please note, being invited to interview does not guarantee the offer of a place.

International qualifications

If you hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, but don’t meet the entry requirements for a master’s degree at Liverpool, a pre-master’s, delivered by our partner, University of Liverpool International College, can help you gain a place. Although there’s no direct pre-master’s route to this MA, completing a pre-master’s pathway can guarantee you a place on many other postgraduate courses which may interest you.

English language requirements

You'll need to demonstrate competence in the use of English language, unless you’re from a majority English speaking country.

We accept a variety of international language tests and country-specific qualifications.

International applicants who do not meet the minimum required standard of English language can complete one of our Pre-Sessional English courses to achieve the required level.

English language qualification Requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no component below 6.0
TOEFL iBT 88 overall, with minimum scores of listening 19, writing 19, reading 19 and speaking 20
Duolingo English Test 120 overall, with no component below 105
Pearson PTE Academic 61 overall, with no component below 59
LanguageCert Academic 70 overall, with no skill below 65
PSI Skills for English B2 Pass with Merit in all bands
INDIA Standard XII National Curriculum (CBSE/ISC) - 75% and above in English. Accepted State Boards - 80% and above in English.
WAEC C6 or above


Do you need to complete a Pre-Sessional English course to meet the English language requirements for this course?

The length of Pre-Sessional English course you’ll need to take depends on your current level of English language ability.

Find out the length of Pre-Sessional English course you may require for this degree.

Pre-sessional English

If you don’t meet our English language requirements, we can use your most recent IELTS score, or the equivalent score in selected other English language tests, to determine the length of Pre-Sessional English course you require.

Use the table below to check the course length you're likely to require for your current English language ability and see whether the course is available on campus or online.

Your most recent IELTS score Pre-Sessional English course length On campus or online
6.0 overall, with no component below 6.0 6 weeks On campus
6.0 overall, with no component below 5.5 10 weeks On campus and online options available
6.0 overall, with no more than one component below 5.5, and no component below 5.0 12 weeks On campus and online options available
5.5 overall, with no more than one component below 5.5, and no component below 5.0 20 weeks On campus
5.0 overall, with no more than one component below 5.0, and no component below 4.5 30 weeks On campus
4.5 overall, with no more than one component below 4.5, and no component below 4.0 40 weeks On campus

If you’ve completed an alternative English language test to IELTS, we may be able to use this to assess your English language ability and determine the Pre-Sessional English course length you require.

Please see our guide to Pre-Sessional English entry requirements for IELTS 6.5, with no component below 6.0, for further details.

About our entry requirements

Our entry requirements may change from time to time both according to national application trends and the availability of places at Liverpool for particular courses. We review our requirements before the start of the new application cycle each year and publish any changes on our website so that applicants are aware of our typical entry requirements before they submit their application.

We believe in treating applicants as individuals, and in making offers that are appropriate to their personal circumstances and background. Therefore the offer any individual applicant receives may differ slightly from the typical offer quoted on the website.

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Fees and Finance

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Changes to International Slavery Studies MA

See what updates we've made to this course since it was published. We document changes to information such as course content, entry requirements and how you'll be taught.

23 March 2023: New postgraduate taught course pages

New course pages launched.