Our BA Modern History allows you to study the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world from the 18th century to the present day. This exciting period has marked an age of discovery and globalisation—a time of rapid change, brutal wars, and belief in the possibility of societal and scientific progress.
From the history of slavery in the Atlantic world to the spread of communist-inspired revolutions in China, Russia, and Latin America—from the impacts and legacies of imperialism in India and Africa to the origins and consequences of the Cold War—you investigate the intersection of ideas, cultures and economics of different people over the last 250 years in order to better understand how the contemporary world was made.
You have the flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional modules about subjects close to home and further afield, on such topics and themes as colonialism, inequality, culture, identity, citizenship, multiculuralism and human rights.
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.
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. 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.
- 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
- Attend an exciting programme of events
- 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
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
- Top 30 for overall student satisfaction for History in the National Student Survey 2021
- 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