BA History and Russian Studies

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.

Russia is an important player on the global scene, having undergone fascinating changes. Western businesses are spending billions investing in Russia and other former Soviet markets, and need employees who can both speak the language and understand the history, politics and culture of the region.

The University of Birmingham is 4th for Russian Studies, and the Top 10 for History in the Complete University Guide 2018. Taking Russian Studies 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, and studying Russian dramatically increases the range of primary sources that you will be able to access. 

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Nia Lewis

Nia Lewis

“Russia is such an interesting country and to be able to study the language, culture, history and identity of it really compliments the History side of my degree. The History side allows for a really in depth look into different periods, as well as giving an overview of a longer period of change and has allowed me to explore areas of history that I’ve never looked at before.”

Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development – a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and professional industries.

Within our Department of Modern Languages, Russian Studies is a small team of dedicated and experienced teaching and research staff (including native-speakers). This friendly community allows staff and students to work together to create an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable environment in which you can achieve your full potential and learn about the role of states and organisations in an ever-interconnected world. Beginners study in Russia for four weeks in Year 1 to rapidly progress their language skills. 

The History department is one 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 1st in the country for History. This allows you to choose from a broad choice of modules, each taught by an expert in that field.

Your Year Abroad in Russia offers a unique opportunity to learn in a truly international and interdisciplinary way.

Why study this course

  • Outstanding employability - 90% of our Modern Languages students are in work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016). By choosing Modern Languages, you are entering an excellent field with almost limitless opportunities and benefits. The new curriculum also has an increased focus on professional development in areas such as; presenting, CV-building, debating, and developing digital projects in the target language. In addition, the Department’s ‘Modern Languages Professionals Week’ in the second year features workshops and talks from former students who are using their languages for a 21st century global workplace in business, the not-for-profit sector, the arts, translation and interpreting, and education.
  • Travel prospects - Many students remember their Year Abroad as the most exciting part of their degree. Their Russian language skills truly matured and they gained a real in-depth understanding of the culture and society of this fascinating country. Beginners to the language also study in Russia for four weeks in Year 1 to rapidly progress their language skills. 
  • Excellent student experience - Our History students gave the course an overall satisfaction rating of 90% in the National Student Survey 2017.
  • Enhanced curriculum and contact hours -  Researching primary sources is a key feature of any History degree, and studying Russian dramatically increases the range of primary sources that you will be able to access.We have also doubled the content hours for the new target-language core module, to 6 hours per week for advanced Russian and 8 hours per week for beginner's Russian. In addition to your linguistic fluency, Birmingham fosters your cultural fluency and awareness of your target culture(s). The target-language core module pioneers a blended approach to your linguistic development; as your cultural knowledge is developed through the medium of your target language.
  • Extra-curricular opportunities - Join one of our language or history student societies or our student magazine The UoB Linguist. As well as making new friends who share your passion for languages and history, you will attend diverse extra-curricular events and develop skills to become a better linguist and historian.

Open day talks

Modules

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 2018. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

In the first year of a Joint Honours degree programme study is split equally between the two disciplines. Following this you have the option to alter the balance of your study, meaning that you could change to a major-minor weighting. In your final year you have the option to maintain your second-year balance, switch your major subject to your other discipline or revert to an equal balance. If you wish, you can maintain an equal balance throughout your degree. This flexibility allows you to tailor the course throughout your degree programme, once you have had the time and experience to consider where your strengths and interests lie. The list of modules below are based on studying half of your modules (60 credits) in History and half in Russian Studies (60 credits). 

First year

History:

Compulsory modules:

  • Practising History (A): Skills in History
  • Practising History (B): Approaches to History

You will choose one of these modules:

  • Discovering the Middle Ages
  • Reformation, Rebellion and Revolution: Making of the Modern World 1500-1800

You will also choose one of these modules:

  • Living in the Middle Ages
  • The Making of the Contemporary World: Modern History c.1800 to the Present
  • War and Society

History first year detailed module descriptions

Russian: During your first year you will study two compulsory language modules 'Russian Core Advanced or Beginners I and II' and one optional module. You can choose between a range of optional modules including: 'Contemporary Russian and East European Politics', 'Cultural Politics of Russia and East Europe', 19th Century Russian Literature', and 'International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia'.

Second year

History:

Compulsory modules:

  • Group Research
  • Option B

Choose from one of the following:

  • History in Theory and Practice (20 credits)
  • Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Professional Skills Module (20 credits) - please note: places on this module are limited

History second year detailed module descriptions

Russian: In addition to a compulsory language module 'Russian Language 2', you can choose from a variety of Russian Studies modules.

Third year

You can choose to spend your year abroad in various locations including Moscow, St Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Petrozavodsk, Tver and Volgograd, spending either two semesters in one place or splitting them between two different places, for instance a semester in Moscow and a semester in Tver. If you are studying Russian with another language, your year abroad can be split between Russia and a country where they speak the other language being studied ). There is also the opportunity to spend a semester in Krakow, Poland under the ERASMUS scheme.

Final year

History

Compulsory modules:

  • Special Subject A+B (20 + 20 credits)

Optional Modules:

Students can also take an Advanced Option A, an Advanced Option B or a Joint Honours History dissertation for a further 20 credits or two of these modules for a further 40 credits.

If you studied Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) in year 2 you would normally be expected to do a 40 credit dissertation in History (for 80 credits in total).

History final year detailed module descriptions

Russian: In addition to a compulsory language module 'Russian Language 4', you can choose from a variety of optional modules. You also write an extended essay or dissertation on a Russian Studies topic of your choosing.

 

Joint Honours Flexibility

Every degree programme at the University is divided into 120 credits of study for each year of the programme. In the first year of a Joint Honours programme, you will study 60 credits in each subject as you learn the core elements of the disciplines. We recognise that students on Joint Honours programmes might come to favour one subject slightly more than another. To account for this, we have added more flexibility into the second and final years of our programmes. In the second year, you can stick with the 60-60 split between the two subjects or shift to a 80-40 credit weighting, effectively a major/ minor combination. You can either go back to 60-60 in the final year, maintain the same 80-40 split or reverse the major and the minor and go to a 40-80 weighting.

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2018, 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 2018/19 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £16,320

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:
3
Typical offer:
AAB
Required subjects and grades:
A Level History, Medieval History or Ancient History at grade A. No A level in Russian required but evidence of language learning ability required such as a grade A in a Modern Language at GCSE.

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis.

Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their Single Honours coursefinder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

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

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

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:

  • 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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors 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.

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

 

Contact hours

On the History side of your degree, you can expect 4 hours per week in your first year, about 3.5-4 hours in your second year and about 3.5-4.5 hours in your final year depending on the focus of your dissertation.  There are also many additional activities that are available to students.

On the Russian side of your degree, you will typically study 6-12 hours per week, which will include 1-2 hours in small group teaching.

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.

[Video above - Dr Emma Tyler discusses careers and employability during the Modern Languages open day presentation]

Modern Languages graduates have a range of skills that are highly prized by graduate employers: oral and written communication in one or more foreign languages, critical thinking,  intercultural awareness and understanding. You will also develop leadership, teamwork and organisational skills through activities such as group projects and your year abroad.

87% of our Modern Language graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. 50% of vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, and our graduates enter a wide range of careers similar to other arts and humanities graduates but with much greater scope in international settings. This includes business, government, journalism, the creative arts, teaching and law. Some go abroad to develop their language skills while working as TEFL teachers and university language tutors.

Modern Languages graduates from the University of Birmingham have excellent prospects after graduation. An impressive 85% of our graduates go into professional or managerial jobs within six months of graduation. Our graduates have started careers with employers including British Airways, Deloitte, HSBC, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the British Council, NATO, BP, central and local government, and universities in the UK and abroad.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and talks and events, including ‘Careers with Languages’, to provide insight into careers of interest to our students. Many languages students will also find our events about careers such as teaching, law, marketing, journalism and advertising of interest.

We work hard to help students identify how the year abroad may help their future career. We also encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Modern Languages alumni profiles

90% of our Modern Languages students and 86% of our History students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016).

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 Russian;
  • 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.

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.

Accommodation

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.