History (Graduate Certificate) (-)




Birkbeck, University of London 

History (Graduate Certificate)

About the course

Exploring the past is exciting, thought-provoking and sometimes revelatory. This postgraduate course in history will help you develop the skills needed to become a historian, with a taught foundation module in the first term that will acquaint you with the theory, tools, techniques and research skills of historical analysis.

We will look at the varied primary sources through which we study the past, from laws and official reports to diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers, oral testimony, paintings, cartoons, music, film, architecture, landscape, archaeological remains and the internet. We will consider how a secondary source differs from a primary one and the problems involved in interpreting a source and ascertaining its truthfulness and reliability.

Thereafter, the course offers two routes for you to choose between: the first route is research focused and will support you in producing a dissertation of 7000 words on the historical subject that most interests you; the taught route lets you select one module from any of the extensive range of option modules offered by the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology.

This programme is ideal for those who wish to pursue their passion for the past, those who want to experience postgraduate historical study without committing to a full Master’s degree, and those who are changing direction and moving to history from a different undergraduate subject.


  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
  • This postgraduate course in history provides the opportunity to pursue your passion for history and undertake independent study and research in the time periods and subject areas that most interest you.
  • If you have a degree in a subject other than history, but would like to study history at postgraduate level, this course is ideal for making the conversion between subjects.
  • We are located five minutes' walk from the British Museum and the British Library, while the Museum of London is easily reachable. Other nearby specialist centres of research include the Institute of Archaeology, the Institute of Classical Studies and the Institute of Historical Research, all of which have internationally renowned library collections and run seminars that you can attend.
  • Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, delivering stimulating teaching.
  • The department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
  • The Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship fund offers a full fee-waiver for Home, EU and Overseas Master’s students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology (part-time awards are pro-rata).
  • Find out more about why you should study with us.
  • Birkbeck Library has an extensive history collection, including the major specialist journals, and access to online materials.

Course structure

To gain the graduate certificate, you must successfully complete modules worth 60 credits.

You take the module Foundations of History: Sources and Debates (worth 30 credits), and then choose either the:


  • Foundations of History: Sources and Debates


This programme aims to encourage and support students in independent learning and original research. This will be facilitated through a mixture of seminars and one-to-one supervision supporting independent study.


Assessment for Foundations of History: Sources and Debates consists of one essay of 2500-3000 words and either a second essay of 2500-3000 words or a literature review essay of 2500 words. Students on the research route submit a dissertation of 6000-7000 words.

Every module has an attendance requirement, so you will need to attend at least 60% of classes in order to pass.



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