Why do some people want to pull down statues, while others call this vandalism? What’s the difference between finding new ways to look at the past, and rewriting history? Is it possible to tread a line between these opposing views on history and heritage? On our BA History and Heritage, you will learn about the social and political forces that shape encounters with history in everyday life and the history behind the heritage.
This innovative programme, incorporating history, art history, and museum studies, approaches the past from many different angles. You can choose to study the history of different times and places, from Tudor England to Nazi Germany, from Mao’s China to today’s multicultural Britain. Alongside history modules, you will learn about ethical and legal debates on heritage, how heritage is preserved, communicated, and displayed, and what heritage means to different communities. In your final year, you will have the opportunity to produce a form of history designed to communicate with wider publics – a great addition to your CV if you want to work in the heritage sector. With this BA in History and Heritage, you will look at the world through fresh eyes – and find out how to show that new world to other people.
You have the flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional modules about subjects close to home and further afield, including:
- Global histories
- Mass immigration to Britain throughout history
- Curatorial studies
- Art and media in the digital age
- History and education
You are taught by award-winning academics from all over the world: our corridors are truly cosmopolitan. We also provide you with opportunities to explore local history and have close ties with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK.
Our students love us too – 92% of our History students expressed overall satisfaction with their course (NSS 2020).
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course. Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre. If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Our history staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. Our flexible course is combined with a supportive structure which helps you to pursue the modules best-suited to your interests. We take the time to get to know you as an individual, welcome you into our scholarly community, and value your views. Our teaching and research concentrates on the period from 1500 to the present and covers a wide geographical area that includes British and European history, as well as Latin America, the USA, China, Russia and Africa.
Our Art History staff consists of a dynamic group of art historians, curators, and heritage specialists. While our research interests span a range of cultures and media, from the early modern to the present, core specialties include exhibition design, modern and contemporary art, digital heritage, public engagement and activism.
At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums and heritage sites in the nearby town of Colchester (‘Britain’s First City’); on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums, galleries, and heritage sites at your fingertips;
Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience, engage in object-based learning, and learn digital skills, a cornerstone of our approach to heritage and museums.
We have close links with many of cultural sites and institutions in Colchester, including the iconic Firstsite gallery, which support hands-on activities and your practical learning.
Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection.
Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions and talks by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students.
Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students.
Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is home to staff who specialise in the history of exhibition design and curate high profile exhibitions.
In addition to the opportunity to learn about the past and come to a better understanding of the present, a course in history also provides you with important skills that will be of value after leaving university. You learn to absorb, analyse and assess a wide variety of information and viewpoints, to express your arguments in oral and written form, and to think and work both independently and in co-operation with others.
You therefore graduate prepared for a wide range of careers. Our graduates have gone on to have careers in a wide variety of fields including:
- museum and archive services
- the Civil Service
- local government
- law enforcement
- charity administration
Others have proceeded to work in banking, industrial and retail management, media research, electronic publishing, marketing, IT, health service administration, counselling and social work, while others still have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MA or PhD degrees.
Some of our recent graduates have found employment as:
- a warden for the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle
- a planning support officer for a local council
- a senior underwriting assistant at CNA Insurance Company Limited
- a researcher at the House of Commons
- a graduate trainee for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
- a library assistant for the University of Cambridge
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- Our History team specialises in public history and we have links with numerous local archives. Innovation of historical representation and engagement with communities will be at the forefront of your studies.
- Our Colchester Campus is home to ESCALA, a collection of over 750 pieces of art from Latin America, while Art Exchange is an on-site gallery which has hosted many prestigious touring exhibitions and events.
- We offer financial assistance for voluntary work at local museums, archives and heritage sites.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
- A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
- Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, book reviews, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
- In your final year, the History Project presents an opportunity to engage in independent research on a topic of your choice and to create a new piece of history. You can choose to write either a traditional 8,000-10,000 word dissertation, or design a public history output and 5,000 word report. This public history output could take the form of a series of museum exhibition boards, a podcast, web resources or a play or film script.