History is not a plain narrative of events. It is an attempt to discover how and why our own world emerged.
Studying History is an exciting chance to investigate global unfamiliar territory and to question some of the myths, preconceptions and prejudices that surround the subject.
Our Department of History was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and offers one of the widest choices of specialist courses taught by academic staff world-renowned for their teaching and research. The size and quality of the department enables us to offer you a wide range of options across the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and over a vast geographical span.
“I love the diversity of Birmingham itself and how friendly everyone is. The Uni has plenty of resources for every course and for my course specifically, the library is amazing. I don’t have to spend lots of money on books as the books are available there. The accommodation villages and Selly Oak, for student housing in second and third year, is a bit like a big student community and they’re close to the Uni itself. And the nightlife is amazing!”
If you want to study History from both the medieval and modern periods with a global reach and experience a range of historical approaches, them this could be the programme for you.
History at Birmingham is one of the largest and most diverse departments in Britain, with over 30 full-time academic staff operating on an international level. Whatever your interests - whether cultural, social, military, political, economic or religious history - there is someone in the department teaching your kind of history. Moreover, historians in other departments in the University expand the range of courses on offer, notably in the fields of Byzantine and African history, which broaden your learning opportunities even further.
We are a research-led University and our research enriches our teaching. As a result, the Department was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
- You will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment. Our History degree is designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that is highly sought after by employers in the workplace.
- Our wide variety of modules are very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually-supervised research into topics of your choice.
- We offer a year abroad, if you wish to spend the third year of your degree studying in a different country.
- Access to a wide variety of resources from the University's Library (which is situated next to the History Department) and the Hilton and Styles Libraries in the Arts Building itself.
- The University Special Collections houses some 60,000 rare and early printed books and upwards of 2 million manuscript and archive items.
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The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
Much of your first year will be spent acquiring a general overview of the medieval, early modern and near contemporary past. The ‘Practising History’ module (20 + 20 credits) introduces you to the key skills you’ll need to study History at degree level. All this will help you make more informed decisions about subject choices in years two and three. Broader survey modules help you to familiarise yourself with history. Discovering the Middle Ages and The Making of the Modern World 1500-1815 (20 credits each) 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. In the Spring Term, you can choose two from three further survey modules, Living in the Middle Ages, The Making of the Contemporary World 1815-2000 and War and Society (20 credits each). You also have a free choice of a Module Outside the Main Discipline in our Themes and Areas module from a wide range offered by the University, and if your choice is to study a language other than English, this can enhance your opportunity to study documentary evidence in a different language in your second and third year.
- Practising History (A): Skills in History
- Practising History (B): Approaches to History
- Discovering the Middle Ages
- The Making of the Modern World 1500-1815
- Themes and Areas 1 (Module Outside Module Discipline)
Choose two modules from these three:
- Living in the Middle Ages
- The Making of the Contemporary World 1815-2000
- War and Society
In each term in your second year you will have a choice of around 15 0ptions to choose from (Option A and B, 20 credits each). You will also start preparatory work for your final-year dissertation; selecting a topic, assessing its feasibility and engaging in preliminary discussions with potential supervisors. The Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) module (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 for your dissertation. The module History in Theory and Practice (20 credits) gives you an overview of the evolution of history writing and an introduction to key issues confronting historians today, which you will find helps you reflect on your own historical research. The Group Research module (20 credits) can be substituted for the Professional Skills Module.
- Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation)
- History in Theory and Practice
- Group Research
- Professional Skills Module (which can be taken in place of Group Research)
- Option A (Autumn)
- Option B (Spring)
- Themes and Areas 2 (Module Outside the Main Discipline)
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.
In your final year you will have some 20 Special Subjects to choose from (20 + 20 credits), ranging from the early medieval period almost up to the present day, and covering a wide range of British, European and Global areas. You will approach the particular subject of your choice not only through reading, but also by intensive study of original documents. There are also a wide range of final-year options (Advanced Option A and B, 20 credits each) to choose from in each of the Autumn and Spring terms.
For most students, the real centre-piece of the final year 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. For your dissertation, you will receive one-to-one consultation sessions with an academic supervisor, who will comment and advise on your drafts.
- Advanced Option A (Autumn)
- Advanced Option B (Spring)
- Special Subject
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- Required subjects and grades:
- A level History, Medieval History or Ancient History at grade A
- 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.
Access programmes: 60 credits overall, to include 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 must be at Distinction, of which 15 must be in History plus 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
A subject booklet is available – email: email@example.com or tel: +44 (0)121 414 5752
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.
Joint Honours combinations
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.
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:
- small group tutorials
- independent study
- and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates
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.
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.
As a 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.
89% of History students are in work/study six months after finishing their degree. Our graduates have gone on to careers in:
- Charity work
- Human Resources
- International Development
- Retail Management
- 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.
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.
Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
Clubs and societies
The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.
Student Experience Officers
Our Student Experience Officers 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.
Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.
Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.