Guide to Studying History

By Dr Strachan, lecturer at Lancaster University, specialising in modern French history and the histories of race and empire

Old Gates © Sondem - Fotolia
Old Doors © Sondem - Fotolia
History opens doors to the past and
informs our present, and future.

What is History?

On a basic level history is the study of what happened in the past.

  • Historians use evidence to try to understand why people believed what they believed and why they did what they did.
  • Studying History therefore helps you uncover just how different society, culture, beliefs, and politics were in the past, and how we got from then to now.
  • If you’ve ever wondered why the world is the way it is today, History is the subject for you.

Specific or general skills developed

  • Studying History will help develop your ability to think critically and argue knowledgeably about what happened in the past, and how what happened shaped – and still deeply affects – the lives of people all around the world.

Coursework, assessments and exams

  • When studying towards a History degree, you are likely to be assessed by a mixture of coursework and exams.
  • Typical coursework assignments include essays, literature reviews, short tests, short and sharply focussed critical reports, poster sessions and oral presentations.
  • Formal examinations include short answer questions, essays and data analysis. Students will often produce final year project reports and dissertations.

What degree can I get? 

  • History BA Hons.
History © Pixelbliss - Fotolia
History © Pixelbliss - Fotolia

Related courses

  • History and Politics : BA Hons
  • English Literature and History : BA Hons
  • French Studies and History : BA Hons
  • German Studies and History : BA Hons
  • Spanish Studies and History : BA Hons
  • History, Philosophy and Politics : BA Hons
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies : BA Hons
  • History and International Relations : BA Hons
  • History and Religious Studies : BA Hons
  • History and Philosophy : BA Hons

What qualifications do I need?

  • A level History is a preferred subject, but requirements change depending on the university or college.

Use the CUG Course Chooser to search through History courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Postgraduate opportunities include:

  • History: MA;
  • History: MPhil/PhD;
  • Graduate Diploma in Historical Studies;
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Regional and Local History.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • History equips you with the transferable skills that are highly prized by a range of employers.
  • Graduates go on to careers in teaching, government, financial services, arts and media, marketing and consultancy, tourism, retail, manufacturing and engineering, law, libraries, archives and museums, voluntary and social services, IT and communications, medicine, and the police and armed forces.
  • Many graduates decide to progress to postgraduate studies, often entering into research and teaching positions.