You obtain a thorough grounding in the fields of modern history and international relations, and will explore how these disciplines influence one another.
You take introductory modules in international relations and politics alongside your history modules in your first year, and continue to combine modules in modern history and international relations in your second and third years. There is a range of options to choose from in both departments and you choose to write your final-year dissertation in either politics or history.
In your history modules you investigate the intersection of the ideas, cultures and economics of different people over the last 200 years of western history. You’re introduced to the relationship between today’s ‘modern’ world, which assumes the significance of political liberty, global interdependence and sexuality, and events and ideas which originated in the 18th and 19th centuries.
This course should also interest you if you want to understand how the international system works, how decisions are made and how lines are drawn. You’ll gain a foundation in politics, while the study of international relations develops your research and critical analysis skills, while teaching you methods of analysis and giving you awareness of the world system.
You have the opportunity to further your interests in modern history and international relations by selecting modules from a wide range of specialisms, including:
- conflict and security studies
- the politics of the Middle East
- the spread of communist-inspired revolutions in China, Russia, and Latin America
- the origins and consequences of the Cold War
- imperialism in Africa
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 provide you with opportunities to explore local history, and have strong links with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK. You can also explore more international topics; our corridors are truly cosmopolitan, with an international research team and a high proportion of international students.
Our students love us too: 92% of our history students expressed overall satisfaction with their course (NSS 2020).
Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.
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 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.
Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics and international relations. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.
- 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 the UK Data Archive, a national service provider digital resources for historians, which is particularly strong in nineteenth and twentieth-century economic and social history.
- 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.
- Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN.
- We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis.
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.
Why we’re great
- We have consistently high levels of student satisfaction and our research is renowned.
- 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
- Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
- Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
- 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
- If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience
- Your first-year marks do not count towards your final degree class