Sex, scandal, death and magic. History is far from dull! History is not just about the past; it is a dynamic force that informs how we comprehend the present and how we envision and shape our future. Understanding the connections between past and present is therefore essential to understanding ourselves and the world in which we live.
Our history degree will offer you new perspectives on the past. You’ll examine history from the close of the European middle ages to the present day. This history degree covers British and European history, Atlantic histories linking Europe, Africa and America, and aspects of global history.
We place emphasis on developing your skills in gathering and evaluating evidence, and learning how to build arguments that are rational and well presented. You’ll be taught by staff who are internationally recognised researchers. This informs what you learn in the classroom, so you’ll benefit from the latest historical findings.
Staff research interests are wide ranging and include the Atlantic slave trade, seaside resorts and leisure activities, the First World War, East German communism, Welsh Quakers, and British and American music festivals.
In the first year of your history degree, we introduce you to some major historical themes such as the growth of the modern nation state or the rise of the Atlantic world. We’ll also show how new approaches can illuminate the past. Crime and vice in the 19th century, for example, looks at how Victorians dealt with drug taking and how contemporary newspapers covered the Jack the Ripper murders. The second and third years allow you to specialise in areas that interest you most. Our lecturers draw from their own research, whether that’s on early modern magic, the treatment of World War One veterans suffering from shell shock, women in modern Britain, or the USA in the 1960s.
Year One: History Degree
- Introduction to History
How will you study history at university, and what can history do for you after graduation? This module shows how you can accumulate skills to succeed at university and beyond.
- The Atlantic and Making of the Modern World 1 and 2
In 1500 the richest parts of the world lay in China and India. By 1900, that had changed completely. What happened in the centuries after 1500? Find out how a new ‘Atlantic system’ caused millions to be enslaved. How it changed the way we eat. How it overturned long-accepted ideas about the power of monarchs… and much else besides.
- Nations and Empires: The Making of Modern Europe, 1750-present
Most nationalists claim that they represent an old nation whose roots can be traced back hundreds of years. In reality, nationalism is something new, with a history which has shaped modern Europe. Discover how an age of nationalism and nations could become an age of empires.
- Crime, Vice and Lowlife in the Nineteenth Century
How did Victorians think about crime? Why did late Victorians write to ask Sherlock Holmes for assistance? What do the Jack the Ripper murders tell us about the late 1880s? This module enters the world of the Victorian slum – and asks if we can trust descriptions we’ve received from the nineteenth century.
- Science, Magic and Discovery in Early Modern Europe
In a world of alchemists and astrologers, what was science and what was magic? Learn what monsters, musical planets, the search for Atlantis and the quest for the philosopher’s stone did for modern science.
The second and third years of the history degree allow you to specialise in areas that most interest you.
Year Two: History Degree
- Approaches to History (20 credits)
How does a historian find and tackle sources: from medieval cartoons to yesterday’s photographs, from military documents to local newspapers? How do we form new questions about old material? This module is the essential training for your third-year dissertation.
You will also study 100 credits of optional modules. Options available include:
- American Violence, Crime and Warfare
Trace the origins and history of American violence: the slave trade, the near-destruction of Native American civilization, military interventions abroad, state violence against citizenry, criminal violence, vigilantism, serial killer phenomena, movie and media-inspired violence.
- The Problem of Poverty in England and Wales
The life of the poor in history: What was the role of the dreaded workhouse? Why did many Victorian philanthropists think food aid was ‘evil’? What happened when savage cuts were made to welfare in the 1870s?
- The Tudor Myth
The Tudors are one of the world’s most celebrated dynasties – and worked hard for their image. How did Henry VIII and Elizabeth I shape the myth of a Tudor Golden Age? How has the myth survived, through maps and portraits, literature and film to the present day?
- The Russian Revolutions and the Soviet Union, (1917-1953)
Wars, revolution & revolutionaries from Lenin to Stalin! Mass movements for rights and freedoms followed by dictatorship; opportunities for human advance flawed by terror on an unprecedented scale. Study the defining events of the twentieth century.
- German Identities
Study the key ideas that shaped the development of German identity from the Northern Renaissance and Reformation to the rise of Nazi Germany in the early twentieth century, and the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.
- Public History
The module introduces students to the study of public history, which is the presentation of historical knowledge to a general public audience in forums such as museums, television, historic preservation projects, collection and recording projects, building of monuments and memorials, and the management of historical sites such as national parks, folk parks, and places of archaeological interest.
- Women in Modern Britain
Students will examine the range of identities available to women in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the institutions that governed their lives and relationships, and the various forms that resistance and revolution took in this period.
- Work-based Learning
Develop a project in a professional workplace, supported and assessed by historians. This module can be adapted to your interests, ambitions and circumstances. For example, current second-year students are working to organise special events at local museums.
Year Three: History Degree
- Dissertation (40 credits)
Put simply, a dissertation is an extended essay on a research topic of your choosing. At this stage, you become a practicing historian in your own right. It’s both the most challenging and the most rewarding piece of work you’ll do. Be ambitious: the best have been published in academic journals.
You will also study 80 credits of optional modules. Options available include:
- America in the Sixties
This module gets to grips with the myths and the realities of one of America’s most turbulent and controversial decades. It explores topics such as the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and the growth of a counter-culture.
- Espionage and Oppression in the Cold War World, 1945-90
What caused global tensions and conflict in the nuclear age? What was it like to live in a communist police state? Why is James Bond a symbol of British post-war decline?
- The Ending of Atlantic Slavery
The ending of Atlantic slavery was neither quick, nor easy, nor straightforward. As late as the 1850s slavery seemed to be an inevitable and irreplaceable part of life across swathes of the New World. Yet ‘Atlantic system’ slavery did perish. Its downfall raises fundamental questions about how historical change comes about.
- Israel, Palestine and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Examine the different forces – Jewish, Zionist, Arab, Palestinian and British – which have produced one of the most bitter conflicts in world history.
- Urban Wales, c.1860-1914: Culture, Society and Popular Politics
Study the vibrant, exciting, boisterous world of industrial Wales – the Rhondda (greatest coal-exporting area…in the world), Cardiff (greatest coal-exporting port…in the world), Merthyr (premier iron-producing town…in the world). How did rugby became the Welsh working class sport? Was Wales really a ‘land of song’? Learn how the past ‘made’ today’s Wales.
- Witchcraft and Deviance in Early Modern Societies
What was considered immoral, or criminal, in the past? Discover why fifty thousand people were executed for the imaginary crime of witchcraft and how attitudes to sex, adultery, and even morris dancing have changed.
- Work-based Learning
Develop a project in a professional workplace, supported and assessed by historians. This module can be adapted to your interests, ambitions and circumstances. For example, current third-year students are working with secondary teachers to develop course materials and gain classroom practice.
The BA (Hons) History is also available as a four year course including an integrated Foundation Year, and is designed for students who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry onto the history degree. You will start by completing a foundation year, which provides well structured support, allowing you to develop your skills and knowledge before continuing onto a three year history degree programme. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We place an emphasis on the skills of ‘doing’ history – the use of evidence, the nature of historical argument and the interpretation of documents. Throughout the history degree, you will develop your own research skills and learn to present your findings in written or oral form. In addition to lectures, you will participate actively in document based seminar and group discussions, individual presentations, workshop sessions and practical activities. You can also incorporate work from other humanities or social science subjects in your studies.
You will be taught by a team of enthusiastic staff who are active in research and writing. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework – the government’s official measure of research capability – 64% of our History research output was rated in the top two categories: ‘world-leading’ and ’internationally excellent’, so you’ll benefit from a cutting-edge curriculum that embodies the latest in historical research.
You will usually have to complete coursework as you progress, and normally sit exams at the end of each academic year.