BA Hispanic Studies and History

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The key to understanding another society is mastering its language. From this starting point, you can examine a country's history, its literature and culture; and by comparison you can learn more about our own society. 

The study of a language alongside History is highly complementary and an exciting way to contextualise your knowledge in each discipline. Researching primary sources is a key feature of any History degree – studying Hispanic Studies dramatically increases the range of primary sources that you will be able to access.

This programme is designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development – a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual, professional and creative industries, in this country and abroad. The programme is also very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress. Acquire advanced language skills and a deep cultural understanding through true immersion on your Year Abroad.

Course fact file

UCAS code: RV41

Duration: 4 Years

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

Start date: September

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telphone Enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5506

Email enquiries: modernlanguages@bham.ac.uk

Details

You will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual, professional and creative industries. 

Both the History and Modern Languages departments at Birmingham are two of the largest and most diverse in Britain. Our staff cover an extensive range of specialities and are committed to research in order to enrich their teaching. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), the University of Birmingham was ranked first in the country for History, while over 75% of research in Modern Languages was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. This allows you to choose from a broad choice of modules, each taught by an expert in that field.

Small group teaching involving student participation are important to both departments, in particular in Modern Languages where oral classes are held with native-speaker teachers. We have found that this produces confident, enthusiastic, articulate graduates, with excellent potential for employment in the UK and beyond. 

Why study this course

  • Outstanding staff: Our staff produce high quality research which directly influences their teaching. In 2014, 98% of both Modern Languages and History students agreed that staff are good at explaining things. 97% and 95% respectively, agreed that staff are enthusiastic about what they teach. Great teaching helps our students develop to their full academic potential.
  • Superb employability rates: Amongst our 2013 cohort, 87% of Modern Languages and 89% of History graduates were in work or further study 6 months after graduation in a diverse range of areas.
  • A broad, flexible and in-depth programme: In addition to your language modules, choose from a wide range of options in French covering culture, literature, film, history or politics. Pick from a selection of History modules covering medieval, early modern and modern periods, approached from social, military, political, economic or religious perspectives. 
  • Although there is a broad choice of modules, you will see from the module information below that each module is taught by an expert in that field. In addition, many modules draw on primary sources, some of which come from our own special collections. The combining of History with Modern Languages increases the range of primary sources that you will be able to access.
  • Travel opportunities: Many students remember their Year Abroad as the most exciting and formative part of their degree. This degree programme allows you to study, teach or work in a Francophone country.
  • Excellent student experience: Join one of our language student societies or our student magazine The UoB Linguist. Develop your language skills outside your teaching, make new friends who share your passion for languages and attend diverse extra-curricular events.
  • Read more about our strengths.

Open day talks

Three full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

Joint honours open day talk

[Video above - Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the University]

Modules

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.

The degree programme is four years in length, and you will spend your third year abroad.

In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in Hispanic Studies and half in History (60 credits)

First year

Hispanic Studies: Your first year in Hispanic Studies will involve core language modules which will develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills (at advanced or beginner level) in your chosen language. Your learning groups are usually very small ensuring that you have an excellent learning environment and receive individual attention and support. Practical language classes involve both whole-group and small-group/pair-work activities with emphasis on communicative settings, use of visual aids, audio/video recordings and the Internet. The digital language laboratories will also be used where appropriate

Those who have Spanish to A level (or equivalent) are taught separately for language and also follow modules which deal with different aspects of Hispanic literature, politics, history or film. These will be taught through a mixture of lectures and follow-up seminars which involve in-depth discussion of the topics covered.

History: The first year is the foundational year in an academic process that will see you progress from being a dependent to an independent learner. You will study modules spanning the early medieval to late modern periods. You can choose either Discovering the Middle Ages and Living in the Middle Ages or The Making of the Modern World 1500-1815 and The Making of the Contemporary World 1815-2000 (20 credits per module). These explore fundamental themes and issues focused on key periods  and indicate the kinds of questions historians explore and some of the methods they employ in answering them. You will also study Practising History (A): Skills in History (Autumn semester) and Practising History (B): Approaches to History (Spring semester), which look more closely at the techniques of the historian and at the nature and evolution of key historical debates. 

Second year

Hispanic Studies:  During your second year in Hispanic Studies, you will develop your language skills even further, as well as deepening your understanding of the culture and society in the countries of your target language. You will have a wider selection of modules to choose from, which can change year-on-year (due to study leave for example) and will depend upon which language you are studying (and whether you entered on the advanced / beginner stream).

History: The second year is an intermediate year that builds on the foundations laid in the first year of study. You engage in Group Research and extend your historical knowledge through two (20 + 20 credit) subject specific modules chosen from a wide range of available from Option A in the Autumn semester and Option B in the Spring.

Third year

The third year is spent abroad. You attend a universitiey (or universities) in a country of your language of study, such as Spain, Argentina, Chile, Ecudaor or Mexico. You'll perfect your language skills and prepare a dissertation on an Hispanic theme. The year abroad is one of the most exciting aspects of the programme and many graduates remember it as one of the best years of their life.

Fourth year

Hispanic Studies: We offer a range of options in the final year alongside core language modules, which reflect staff research interests, from advanced translation skills to Piracy and Conspiracy, and US Latino Culture.

History: The fourth year represents the culmination of undergraduate study and the final stage of your transition to an independent learner. You hone your historical skills in Advanced Option A or Advanced Option B and you also undertake an in-depth Special Subject module, which is chosen from a variety of available subjects. 

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: AAB

Required subjects and grades: A Level History, Medieval History or Ancient History at grade A. Spanish can be studied post A level or from Beginner level (ab initio)

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:

To study Spanish without A Level Spanish, applicants should normally be able to demonstrate some previous experience in learning a modern language, such as GCSE French, German etc.

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 Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telphone Enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5506

Email enquiries: modernlanguages@bham.ac.uk

Learning and teaching

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.

Language laboratory sessions allow you to practise your listening and spoken skills and are an essential part of all our language programmes.

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 Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telphone Enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5506

Email enquiries: modernlanguages@bham.ac.uk

Employability

Amongst our 2013 cohorts, 87% of Modern Languages and 89% of History graduates were in work or further study 6 months after graduation.

During your degree, you will acquire skills and knowledge that are highly prized by employers in many sectors, including:

  • Strong communication skills in English and one or more other languages;
  • An appreciation of the past and how this impacts on the present;
  • A deep understanding of other cultures;
  • Critical thinking skills, alongside the ability to research, analyse and interpret information;
  • Independence and experience of living abroad;
  • Leadership and teamwork;
  • Handling complex information;
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments;
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload;

Graduates in these areas have gone on to work at:

  • Amazon.fr
  • Capita
  • Eurocity Group
  • Harper Collins
  • Deloitte
  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital
  • JP Morgan
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Trust
  • Teach First
  • Thames Water
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Weightmans LLP 

Examples of graduate jobs include:

  • Teacher
  • Major Gifts Officer
  • Management trainee
  • PR and Media Relations Intern
  • Researcher
  • Ship Broker
  • Strategy Analyst
  • Account Administrator
  • Editorial Project Leader
  • International Sales coordinator
  • Investigation Specialist
  • Sales Executive
  • Account Executive
  • Graduate Trainee
  • Consultant
  • Marketing Officer
  • Operations Analyst

Examples of further study include:

  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • MA Antiquity
  • MA Magazine Journalism
  • MA Medieval Studies
  • MRes Modern History
  • MSc Economic History
  • PGCE (various)
  • MA Social Work
  • MA Translation  Studies

You will benefit from events in both departments whereby graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available to both linguists and historians. Recent speakers have held high-profile roles at the BBC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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 Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telphone Enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5506

Email enquiries: modernlanguages@bham.ac.uk