BA History

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. 

Times Higher Education ranked the Department 1st in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. We are also ranked in the Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2019. We offer a wide choice 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.

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“One of my favourite parts about the University of Birmingham is the Cadbury Research Library which is where we keep our medieval books and manuscripts. There are over 200,000 of them and they are all really individual and really pretty. My favourite module at the moment is the War and Society module which covers war all the way from the Crusades until the War on Terrorism and it gives me a real depth of knowledge about the art of war and how it has changed throughout time.”

If you want to study History from both the medieval and modern periods with a global reach and experience a range of historical approaches, then our History programme could be 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 global, cultural, social, diplomatic, military, political, economic, military 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 modules on offer, notably in the fields of Byzantine and African history, which broaden your learning opportunities even further.

Much of your first year will consist of the foundational study of core subjects.  Choice increases as your studies progress in to the second and third/final year and we encourage you to tailor your studies to suit your own historical interests.  You are also able to choose a subject for your final year dissertation in consultation with a member of our teaching staff. 

Why study this course

  • Excellent reputation - History is placed in the Top 10 among UK universities in both the Complete University Guide 2019 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. The Department is also ranked in the Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2019.
  • Excellent learning environment - 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.
  • Outstanding student experience -  92% of our students felt that the course was intellectually stimulating and provided them with opportunities to explore ideas or concepts in depth (NSS 2018).
  • Wide module choice - 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.
  • Fantastic resources - Access to a wide variety of resources from the University's Library, and the Hilton and Styles Libraries in the Arts Building itself. Also, the Cadbury Research Library is home to the University of Birmingham’s historic collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, photographs and associated artefacts. The collections which have been built up over a period of 120 years consist of over 200,000 rare printed books including significant incunabula, as well as over 4 million unique archive and manuscript collections.


Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


First year

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 (10 + 10 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 Reformation, Rebellion and Revolution: The Making of the Modern World 1500-1800 (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.  You can choose two from four further survey modules, Living in the Middle Ages, The Making of the Contemporary World: Modern History c.1800 to the Present, War and Society and United States History 1865-2000 (20 credits each).  You also have a free choice in the Widening Horizons module (20 credits) 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. 

Compulsory modules

  • Practising History (A): Skills in History (10 credits)
  • Practising History (B): Approaches to History (10 credits)  
  • Discovering the Middle Ages (20 credits)
  • Reformation, Rebellion and Revolution: The Making of the Modern World 1500-1800 (20 credits)

Optional modules

  • The Making of the Contemporary Modern World: Modern History c.1800 to the Present (20 credits)
  • Living in the Middle Ages (20 credits)
  • War and Society (20 credits)
  • United States History 1865-2000 (20 credits)
  • Widening Horizons (Module Outside the Main Discipline) (20 credits)

Second year

In your second year you will have a choice of around 15 options to choose from (Option A and B, 20 credits each).  The Research Methods 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) provides students with an exciting opportunity to work in groups to design and execute a collaborative research project. The aim is for students to gain experience in the process of historical inquiry and develop their research skills in a supportive environment in advance of individual work for dissertations.  You then choose either the Public History module (20 credits) or a Language module at an appropriate level (20 credits) or there may also be opportunities to take a substitute placement module called Professional Skills (please note: places are limited on the Professional Skills module).  

Compulsory modules

  • Research Methods (20 credits)
  • History in Theory and Practice (20 credits)
  • Group Research (20 credits)

Optional modules

Choose 20 credits from the following:

  • Public History (20 credits)
  • Language module at an appropriate level (20 credits)
  • Professional Skills module (20 credits)

Choose 40 credits from the following:

  • History Option A (20 credits)
  • History Option B (20 credits)

Year abroad

You can apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world. If you achieve a grade of 2.1 or above in your first year then you will be invited to apply for a Year Abroad in your second year. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year. Find out more.

Final year

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.

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.  

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (40 credits)
  • History Special Subject: Sources (A) (20 credits)
  • History Special Subject: Essays (B) (20 credits)

Optional modules

  • Advanced Option A – History (20 credits)
  • Advanced Option B – History (20 credits)

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £17,640

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A level History / Medieval History / Ancient History grade A.
General Studies:
Not accepted.

Additional information:

IB Diploma:
6,6,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM, plus an A at A-level in the required subject/s mentioned above.
  • BTEC Diploma: DD, plus an A at A-level in the required subject/s mentioned above.
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus AB at A-level, including an A in the required A-level subject/s mentioned above.

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Joint Honours combinations

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


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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • 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.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.


Contact hours

In years 1 & 2 of your History degree you can expect about 8 hours of contact time per week and in your final year you can expect about 6.5 hours. There are also many additional activities that are also available to students. 

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.


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
  • 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. 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 

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.

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.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.