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 or a Future Skills module). They then choose FOUR optional modules drawn from a choice 20 more usually on offer (see below).

Compulsory Module: 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.

A typical range of year 2 options offered in Dept of History might include those listed below:

  • Radical Pieties
  • Society in the Viking World 
  • 1619 and the Making of America
  • There is Black in the Union Jack
  • Revolution, Nation, and the Global South
  • Tudor Terrors
  • Pandora's Box: Europe and the First World War
  • The Global Cold War
  • State and Empire in the Early Modern World
  • Global History of Gender and Sexuality
  • American Empire: The United States and the World   
  • Feminisms and the women's movement in modern Britain: From suffragists to ladettes
  • In the Eye of the Storm: Europe & the Second World War, 1930-1960

History students 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 15-20 Special Subjects and 15-20 options available (see below).

History Dissertation 

  • 40 credits

Students complete research and focus their energies on preparing drafts of chapters for their dissertations. Students undertake a wide range of research activities enabling them to engage directly with contemporary debates in history and examine and interpret diverse sources such as letters, diaries, newspapers, government, business, church and parish records, statistical sources and media representations of varying kinds etc...

Students studying this module are required to prepare a 12,000 word dissertation within the broad field of History and students choose to study diverse regions and periods. Some students elect to research an area to which they have already been introduced via a taught module, others develop themes initiated in Group Research Projects, and some students seize the opportunity to pursue a research interest that they have been unable to develop elsewhere in the curriculum.

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:

  • Experts, Scholars, and Spies
  • Piracy, Plunder, Peoples and Exploitation: English Exploration in the Tudor Period
  • Britain’s Wars of Colonisation and Decolonisation, 1815-1960
  • The Making of the British Raj: Gender, Conquest and Race in Early Colonial India, c.1757-1885
  • Land, Law, and Violence in the America West
  • Reason and Romance: The Cultural History of Nineteenth-Century Britain 
  • The U.S. South from Plantations to NASCAR
  • ‘The Young Ones’: Youth, Popular Culture, and Social Change in C20 Britain
  • Practising Public History
  • Bread, Wine, and Barricades: Freedom, Ecology, and the Nature of Modern France
  • Body Politics
  • Indigenous and Settler Histories
  • Holiday from reality: A History of Drugs and Drug Use in Modern Britain
  • China Under Mao