BA Ancient and Medieval History

To understand fully the modern world - its culture, language, political systems and people – you need to take a long perspective. Studying Ancient and Medieval History goes back to the roots of modern civilisation in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages. One aspect of study is social history: how people in the past lived, worked, traded and enjoyed their leisure. 

The Ancient and Medieval History programme at Birmingham is based in the Department of History, which was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. The subject offers the opportunity to study many different forms of history. The chronological sweep is wide, from around 3000BC to 1500AD and you can study Europe, the Mediterranean and Asian civilisations. Studying such a diverse range of societies and cultures enables you to analyse and reflect on the complex relationship between the Ancient and Medieval worlds.

Course fact file

UCAS code: V116

Duration: 3 years

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator
Heather Cullen

Telephone enquiries:
+44 (0)121 41 45752

Email:
 
historycultures-ug
@contacts.bham.ac.uk

 

Details

The Ancient and Medieval History degree is taught in the School of History and Cultures which means that you can draw on a vast range of expertise in Ancient History and Archaeology, Medieval History, Classics and Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.

We have a distinctive emphasis on using literature, history and archaeology in the study of the ancient world, and we offer range of expertise. This ensures a wide choice of times, countries and cultures may be studied.

We have excellent library facilities with the University Library situated next to the History Department and we have the Hilton and Styles libraries in the Arts Building. The University’s Special Collections houses some 60,000 rare and early printed books and upwards of 2 million manuscript and archive items.

Why study this course

  • We are very conscious that a true appreciation of the ancient and medieval world requires as varied an approach as possible. At the beginning you will study broad time periods and issues but you will get to focus on particular topics of your choosing all the way through. If you are interested in History in its broadest sense then this is the programme for you. 
  • We offer a year abroad, if you wish to spend the third year of your degree studying in a different country. 
  • Student satisfaction scores for Ancient and Medieval History at Birmingham are very high with 93% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course.  
  • Our BA Ancient and Medieval History graduates benefit from a high average rate of employability with 95% going into work or study within six months of graduation.
  • A day in the life of a History student Hannah Witton takes you on a tour of a typical day in the life of a History student at the University of Birmingham.

Hear from our students

Open day talk

Modules

Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.

First year

The first year represents a foundation year in which core skills and knowledge for historical enquiry are gained. While those two things can never be separated, the emphasis is on skills in the modules Practising History (10 + 10 credits) and the Ancient History Project (10 + 10 credits). Each of these four modules centres on a different topic, two per semester, and helps develop your skills for university-level history. Broader survey modules help you to familiarise yourself with ancient and medieval history. Discovering the Middle Ages and Living in the Middle Ages (20 + 20 credits) explore fundamental themes and issues focused on the key periods concerned and indicate the kinds of questions historians explore and some of the methods they employ in answering them. Introduction to Greek and Roman History (20 credits) alongside the Introductory Survey (10 + 10 credits) module of your choice (for instance Early Civilisations: Egypt and Ancient Western Asia or Byzantium/Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World), do the same. As you would expect, the first year serves as a springboard for your studies in second year.

  • Practising History A: Skills in History
  • Practising History B: Approaches to History
  • Ancient History Project A and B
  • Discovering the Middle Ages
  • Living in the Middle Ages
  • Introduction to Greek and Roman History
  • Ancient History/Classics/Archaeology Introductory Survey

Second year

In the second year the emphasis on small group teaching and independent learning increases.  Two core modules help to develop you as a historian of the ancient and medieval worlds. Ancient and Medieval History in Theory and Practice (20 credits) addresses questions to do with the nature of history and historical knowledge, particularly as they relate to the ancient and medieval worlds.  Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) (20 credits) gives you first-hand experience of the work of a historian as you learn to identify and frame a valid, intellectually coherent research question which, in year 3, will form your dissertation project (which can be on an ancient or medieval topic).  You also take two medieval history options (Options A and B), one in the Autumn term, one in the Spring term (20 + 20 credits). You then choose two modules from the wide range on offer for year 2 students within the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology. 

  • Ancient and Medieval History in Theory and Practice
  • Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation)
  • Option A
  • Option B
  • Ancient History Options x 2

Year Abroad

You can choose to study a Year Abroad.  This four year route offers you the additional educational benefit of a year of study in an approved University in Europe or in English speaking countries. Students with grades of 2.1 or above in their first year will be asked to apply for the Year Abroad in the first term of their second year and if successful, will go abroad in their third year. In addition to the tutor support given from the host University, students who choose to take a Year Abroad will be allocated a member of staff from the Department of History who will monitor their progress while overseas through regular contact.

Third year

In the final year, you write your 12,000 word dissertation (40 credits), an individual research project using primary sources to answer a historical question which you have developed since year 2 and which is supervised by an appropriate specialist. The remainder of your degree is made up of modules you choose. For medieval history, you get the choice of either two Advanced options (one in the Autumn term, one in the Spring term, both 20 credits) or a medieval history Special Subject (20 + 20 credits). For ancient history, as in the second year, you choose two final year 20-credit Option modules from the wide range on offer in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology.

  • Dissertation
  • Either Medieval Advanced Option A and B or Special Subject
  • Ancient History modules

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: not accepted

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

Additional information:

Access programmes:  60 credits overall to include 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 must be at Distinction and 15 at Merit.  All remaining credits must be at level 2 and include 12 in Maths and 12 in English. 

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com.

Learn more about applying.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator
Heather Cullen

Telephone enquiries:
+44 (0)121 41 45752

Email:
 
historycultures-ug
@contacts.bham.ac.uk

 

Learning and teaching

Students in the Danford Room

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.
 

Central to Learning and Teaching in the School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham is critical enquiry, debate and self-motivation, summed up by the term Enquiry Based Learning.

What does this mean for you?

Enquiry-based learning describes an environment in which learning is driven by the shared enquiry of students and tutors. Depending upon the level and the discipline, it can encompass problem-based learning, evidence-based learning, small scale investigations, field work, projects and research.
Enquiry-based learning places you at the centre of your own learning process so that you learn through involvement and ownership and not simply by being a passive recipient of information thrown at you.   You will spend time developing comprehension and note-taking skills. History is a subtle and complex subject and the literature you need to master can be demanding and complex. To ‘get’ it, you need plenty of thinking time. Reading, thinking and analysing for yourself are the most important parts of your degree experience.  This approach will enable you to take control of your own learning as you progress through your degree.  Moreover, it will encourage you to acquire essential skills that are highly valued by employers: creativity, independence, team-working, goal-setting and problem-solving.
The overall approach we adopt is one of more heavily weighted contact hours in Year 1, but tapering off over years 2 and 3, as you begin to acquire greater confidence in discussion and writing.  We are strongly committed to small-group seminar teaching, particularly in the final two years of your degree: you will find that most of your teaching happens not in large, anonymous lectures but in smaller groups of students where you can actively participate in discussion and have the benefit of personal contact with academic staff.  In your final year, you will also have individual tuition to help you work on your dissertation. As you progress through the syllabus, you are offered an increasingly wide range of particular subject choices.

Year 1 is highly directed –  much of it lies in helping you to acquire a general overview of the medieval, early modern and near contemporary past.  The ‘Practising History’ module introduces you to the key skills needed to study History at degree level and enables you to study select historical episodes.  All this will help you make more informed decisions about subject choices in Years 2 and 3.  These topics are increasingly specialised and enable you to get to grips with them in real depth. During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

In Year 2, in each term, you have a choice of around 15 Options to study.  You will start doing preparatory work for your final-year dissertation, selecting a topic, assessing its feasibility and engaging in preliminary discussions with potential supervisors.  The module History in Theory and Practice provides an overview of the evolution of history writing and an introduction to key issues confronting historians today: you will find this helps you reflect on your own historical research.  A notable feature of Year 2 is Group Research: about a dozen specialised historical topics for you to research, not, however, as individuals, but on a collective basis.  You are divided into groups of 5-6 students, to work as a team, and to produce both individual essays and a group presentation on what you have researched.   The capacity to work as part of a team, to know what it is like to have to accommodate yourself to the way others work, is a valuable asset for future employment.

In Year 3, there are some 20 Special Subjects for you to choose from, ranging from the early medieval period almost up to the present day, and covering a wide range of British, European and non-European areas.  You approach the particular subject not only through reading but also by intensive study of original documents. In addition, there are around a further 14 Final Year Options to choose from in each of the autumn and spring terms.  The real centre-piece of the Final Year, however, for most students is their dissertation – a piece of extended writing on a subject of your choice and which requires significant use of archival and other primary source materials.  You will have done extensive preparatory work for this in Year 2.  In Year 3, you will have a calibrated set of one-to-one consultation sessions with an academic supervisor, who will comment and advise on your drafts.  This will be real academic writing and the results are often impressive.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

 

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator
Heather Cullen

Telephone enquiries:
+44 (0)121 41 45752

Email:
 
historycultures-ug
@contacts.bham.ac.uk

 

Employability

[ Video above - Dr David Gange discusses careers and employability in the History open day presentation]

As an Ancient and Medieval History student you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are attractive to employers, including:

  • Strong communication skills
  • A deep understanding of the past
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information
  • Independence and experience of living abroad (if Year Abroad chosen)
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Handling complex information
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload

These are key skills that will enable you to pursue either further study in History disciplines or move into employment in a wide range of other careers. 

95% of Ancient and Medieval History students are in work/study six months after finishing their degree.  Our graduates have gone on to careers in: 

  • Accountancy
  • Charity work
  • Housing
  • Human Resources
  • International Development
  • Law
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Politics
  • Retail Management
  • Teaching
  • Library and Archive work
  • Postgraduate study

You will benefit from organised events in the Department whereby our graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available to historians.  Many careers-orientated events are arranged in the Department over the course of your time at Birmingham to enable you to gain skills so that you join the working world with confidence in your abilities.

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator
Heather Cullen

Telephone enquiries:
+44 (0)121 41 45752

Email:
 
historycultures-ug
@contacts.bham.ac.uk