History Second and Third/Final Year module summaries

Second year

All second year BA History students have to take History in Theory and Practice. They also take Public History (or Professional Skills, a Future Skills module or a Language module). They then choose FOUR optional modules, one each from four lists, which in total means they can choose from 20-30 different one-semester options (see below).

Compulsory Modules:

History in Theory and Practice

  • 20 credits

This module addresses questions to do with the nature of history and historical knowledge. Topics covered include issues in the philosophy of history (explanation, causality, objectivity etc.); the characteristics of different kinds of history and major trends in historiography. This is not a standard history module with a definite period/place focus, but a broader reflective module designed to aid independent thinking and reflection by students.


Public History

  • 20 credits 

This module provides students with the opportunity to reflect on what it has meant (and still means) to do history in public, from the medieval world to the present day. It explores how the process of turning the past into history has been shaped by the competing demands of politics and profit, education and entertainment, nation-building and self-fashioning. Ranging across periods and places, it moves beyond chronicles and academic histories to consider the many ways in which history has been made in public. Films, folk tales, and family trees, music, museum exhibitions, and personal memories, rituals and performance, pedagogy and printing will analysed to this end.


Language module at an appropriate level

  • 20 credits

These are chosen from the wide range of modern language modules offered by the university’s language departments.


Professional Skills Module

  • 20 credits

This is a work placement module involving a minimum of 10 days in a work environment in the type of organisation or business sector to which students might apply following successful completion of their undergraduate programme. The module will provide students with an opportunity to develop transferable skills, including team working, problem solving and communication skills, as well as allowing the development of the ability to self-reflect on activity undertaken.


Future Skills Modules

  • 20 credits

Please note these are examples of Futures Skills Modules that might be on offer:

Media in Practice

This module gives you the chance to produce your own original content, learn skills and techniques that will improve what you create, and think rigorously about how media shapes our world. With lectures from a range of academic disciplines, the module asks big questions, like “How does news consumption affect voting behaviour?” and shares practical know-how, like how to conduct an interview or put in a Freedom of Information request. Through peer workshops, guided by academic leads, it also helps you to develop your own ideas and projects, from the first spark to the finished article. This module is designed to open media to all, so no prior experience is necessary.

Sustainable development Climate, Culture, Society and Policy

This is an interdisciplinary module that allows you to examine sustainability through the lens of several disciplines that fall broadly within arts, humanities and law. Examples of the topics you will examine are: sustainability and interdisciplinary research; the concept of sustainable development; climate change; sustainability and environmental justice. In examining these topics, students will also look into particular polices/initiatives to understand how sustainability is implemented in practice. The module will be delivered by academics from different disciplines which will allow you to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion with some of the mentioned topics. You will also have an opportunity to learn about sustainability initiatives at the UoB campus.

Optional Modules

You choose FOUR optional modules to the value of 80 credits drawn from a choice of the 25 or more usually on offer.

  • One Autumn Semester option
  • One Spring Semester option
  • One Topics in History option
  • One Sources in History option

A typical range of year 2 Autumn and Spring options offered in Department of History might include those listed below: 

  • Society in the Viking World c.800-c.1100
  • Radical Pieties: Militants, Martyrs and Mystics in Medieval Christianity and Islam
  • Tudor Terrors: inner worlds, hidden worlds, new worlds
  • State and Empire in the Early Modern World, 1400-1800
  • In search of Wealth and Power: China since 1800
  • Mass Culture and the Modern United States, 1877-1939
  • Feminisms and the women’s movement in modern Britain: From suffragists to ladettes
  • The Global Cold War Confronting Colonialism: Histories of Empire in India and Ireland
  • In the Eye of the Storm: Europe & the Second World War, 1930-1960
  • American Empire: The United States and the World
  • Pandora's Box: Europe and the First World War, 1900-1930
  • ‘There is Black in the Union Jack’: An Introduction to Black and South Asian British History
  • Revolution, Nation and the Global South

Topics in History

This module is taken by all single- and joint-honours History students. It develops students’ ability to design and deliver a historical research project, both individually and as part of a group. It achieves this through a combination of general skills lectures, specialist seminar workshops, and independent study meetings. Alongside a programme of weekly lectures in historical research design and delivery skills, students choose one from a number of specialist options related closely to the research interests of the academic staff teaching on the module in a given year. Through fortnightly staff-led seminar workshops, students work in small groups to devise and investigate a tailored research project relating to the broader specialist topic area, through detailed engagement with secondary literature and primary sources. In addition students meet weekly without academic supervision, to develop their projects.

Topics in History example modules:

  • Kings and Propaganda: Power in the Islamic World
  • The Early Modern Witch Craze
  • Wheels of Fortune: The Bicycle, 1885-1920
  • Women and the English Revolution
  • Worlds of the Founders: Revolutionary America, 1750-1826
  • The British Infantry Officer on the Western Front 1914-18
  • While the Worst are full of Passionate Intensity: Fascism and Communism in Interwar Britain
  • Atlantic Coastlines in British and Irish History
  • The American Occupation of Germany, 1944-1949
  • The Desert War in North Africa 1940-1943
  • From Robin Hood to Game of Thrones, Medievalism in the Popular Culture of TV and Cinema
  • Britain and Drugs in the era of total war
  • Lost in the Arctic: the English Search for a Northwest Passage
  • Failed Colonies
  • Conversion and Mission in Early Medieval Europe

Sources in History

All BA History students take this module. Within it they get to choose one option from a range. Those options might typically include: Personal documents, Official records, Possessions, Testimonies, News, Money, Memorials, Protest documents, Texts and tales.

In your chosen option you get to examine primary sources across a broad chronological and geographical range. You will be introduced to a range of textual, visual and material sources as appropriate. Most options are team-taught bringing together staff as specialists in the methodologies associated with this category of source for different periods and places. The exact periods and places covered will depend on staff availability in a given year, but seminars will engage with the possibilities and limitations of your source type in the practice of history including a range of historical approaches. Seminars will provide training in the critical analysis of the source type, including attentiveness to changes in form according to time and place. You will be encouraged to think about how analysis of such sources can inform the process of historical research.

You may also be able to take history-related modules offered by other departments.


Third/Final year

BA History students write a dissertation (40 credits), study one Special Subject module across the academic year, and take two optional modules. There are usually 12-15 Special Subjects and 12-15 options available (see below).

History Dissertation 

  • 40 credits

In the dissertation, a 10,000-word final year research project, students work on their individual topic in collaboration with a supervisor. Students have individual supervision meetings with their dissertation tutor, working on a topic of the student’s choice. The main focus of the student’s independent work is their analysis of appropriate primary sources to answer the historical question they are addressing.

Some examples of topics recently researched by students on this programme include:

  • The Kushan military relationship with Han China: A First Analysis
  • Representations of gender and sexuality in the trial of Joan of Arc
  • The Portrayal of Richard III in historical and fictional works, plus his modern perception in popular culture
  • Urban Encounters: economic and social aspects of daily life in York and London in early medieval England
  • Disunity of Islam: the impact of the Assassins on the Crusader States, c. 1090 to c.1190
  • The impact of the First World War on the working lives of Birmingham’s female working-class munitions workers
  • Downton Abbey - Fact, Fiction or Fantasy? An investigation of servant-master relationships in the early 20th century
  • How did British business interests shape imperial maritime policy in the Middle East: 1900-1918?
  • Thoroughly Modern Witches: The Transmutations of Enchantment 1870-1930
  • A journey of division: An analysis into the changing portrayal of the Berlin Wall in the British press
  • The Black Legend of Borgia: Creation of a Myth
  • The Gin Craze and Crime in Eighteenth Century London
  • Change and Continuity: developing discourse on the plague in seventeenth century England
  • The Tudor Sisters: The Role of Religion in the Relationship between Mary and Elizabeth
  • Appropriating Camelot in nineteenth century culture

Special Subjects

  • 40 credits

A typical range of final year Special Subjects might include:

  • Games without Thrones? North Atlantic Societies in the wake of the Vikings, c.800-c.1200
  • Global Medieval Cities: Rome, Constantinople, Cairo, and Kaifeng after 1000
  • Chronicling Conquest on the Frontiers of Medieval Europe Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
  • British Women and Internationalism since 1850
  • Empire comes Home: India in the Making of Britain
  • Modern Egypt 
  • Britain and the First World War
  • Dossers: A History of Homelessness in Modern Britain
  • Facing the Fuhrer, the Duce and the Emperor: British Foreign and Defence Policies 1931-1942
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage? Gender and Sexual Minorities in the British World
  • Women and Social Movements in Brazil
  • The Revolting Right
  • Where There Is Discord: Making Thatcher’s Britain
  • Terrorising History: Terrorist Motivations, Methods, and Mayhem
  • The Third Reich

Final Year Options

  • 20 credits 

A typical range of final year options might include:

  • Before Globalization? Afro-Eurasian World History 500-1800
  • Experts, Spies and Scholars Reason and Romance: The Cultural History of Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • Indigenous and Settler Histories America at War: From the Civil War to the War on Terror
  • China in Revolution: China under Mao (1949-1976)
  • Britain and her Soldiers: Society and the Army from the First World War to Afghanistan
  • ‘A holiday from reality’: A history of drugs and drug use in the Modern Era
  • The Making of England, 850-1100
  • Messiahs and Monarchs: Islam and Early Modern Iran
  • Revolution, Regicide, & Republic: The British Civil Wars, 1642-1660
  • Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage? Gender and Sexual Minorities 1885 to the Present
  • History of Technology and Culture in the United States
  • Britain’s Wars of Colonisation and Decolonisation, 1815-1960
  • Black Activisms in the US South: Power, Feminisms, and Black Lives Mattering from 1960-present
  • The Making of the British Raj: Gender, Conquest and Race in early colonial India, c.1757-1885
  • Feeling Politics in 20th Century Britain: Emotions and Politics in Britain From the Stiff Upper Lip to