In this degree you have the opportunity to examine human rights in historical context, to understand how ideas of human rights have developed historically and choose optional modules that relate to the field of human rights. Our course allows you to explore history and the study of human rights and to graduate with a strong competence in both disciplines.
In your history modules you discover both the early modern and modern periods, and explore challenging questions concerning the impact of political, social and cultural change on individuals, social groups, and regions.
You also engage in a discourse on human rights, from political, sociological, philosophical, economic and historical perspectives. You are presented with the theoretical foundations, substantive knowledge, and evaluative tools for you to understand, respond to, and help shape national, regional, and international legal and political developments.
At Essex we are actively engaged in debates about the meaning of justice in the UK and beyond. Our Human Rights Centre is a recognised international leader. Through our work with the United Nations, governments, human rights organisations and corporations all over the world, we bring a global outlook to our teaching.
You have the opportunity to further your interests in history and human rights by studying a wide-range of topics and specialisms, including colonialism, inequality, culture, identity, citizenship and multiculturalism. Our Department of History has developed a strong research and teaching profile, with the majority of our research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). We also have strong links with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK. Our students love us too – we’re top 30 for overall student satisfaction for History in the National Student Survey 2021.
Our School of Law specialises in human rights law, business law, public law, criminal justice, health law, law and technology, and legal studies. It is ranked in the top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014), and we are ranked among the top 200 departments in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (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 the placements team.
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 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 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 School of Law’s internationally diverse community of staff and students gives us a breadth of cross-cultural perspectives and insights into law and justice around the world.
This community, combined with opportunities to study abroad during your time with us, ensures you graduate with a genuine worldview and a network of international contacts.
Members of our Human Rights Centre work closely with our alumni and extensive practitioner network to ensure that our research is focused on priority issues that are of direct relevance to beneficiaries such as victims of human rights violations, governments, NGOs, and international organisations such as the UN.
- We have several Special Collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library
- Access a variety of textbooks and journals in our Albert Sloman Library which houses materials on Latin America, Russia and the US that are of national significance
- Work on key human rights projects at our Human Rights Clinic
- Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
We also offer a range of opportunities for working with projects associated with our Human Rights Centre:
As a history graduate you’ll acquire skills which employers in all fields value. You will be able to analyse information and communicate your ideas clearly. You will have the ability to understand foreign cultures and new ideas and grasp new systems quickly. All of these skills are highly transferable to the world of work.
Many of our graduates go into subject-related fields such as teaching, museum curation and archiving, while others have gone on to do very different things, including journalism, law, politics and civil service.
Some of our recent graduates have found employment as:
- A librarian
- An editorial assistant
- A careers officer
- A business development manager
- A digital services consultant
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities. Take a look at our dedicated careers pages for History and Law and Human Rights.
Why we’re great
- Our senior Human Rights scholars have held – and continue to occupy – key positions in the United Nations human rights and development fields.
- You can choose from a unique and diverse range of topics, periods and countries.
- 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.
- Taught by a weekly lecture followed by a seminar, where groups of about 15 students meet with their tutor to discuss their reading, to work together with primary sources, or to make presentations to the rest of the group
- One-to-one tuition for your final-year project
- Assessment methods include essays, coursework journals, oral presentations, book and film reviews, source analysis, and the dissertation
- Your first-year marks do not count towards your final degree class