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Guide to studying History

Studying History will develop your ability to think critically about what happened in the past, and how this shapes the lives of people around the world.

Old Cyrillic Manuscript on Church Pulpit


  1. What's History?

  2. Why study History?

  3. What jobs can you get as a History graduate?

  4. What qualifications do you need?

  5. What degrees can you study?

  6. How will you be assessed?

  7. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's 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.

You can study a wide variety of History degrees, including those filtered by region, period or topic. 

Why study History?

By looking at the history of different cultures, you can build a strong understanding of why certain people act the way they do. For instance, by looking at the history of the USA we can see why race tensions continued on past the abolition of slavery and remain today. In reading the history of India we can see why the Caste system still remains in the subcontinent. This provides you with a broad cultural awareness. 

Studying History provides you with skills that aren't confined to the study of the past. Skills of analysis are invaluable in many jobs, and the ability to analyse and prioritise information is vital to decision making.

Like many degrees, History can easily be combined with a number of other subjects. From History & Mathematics to History & Music and even History & Chinese, there's a great range of joint honours available.

Berlin West, Germany, 1958. At the Brandenburg Gate

What jobs can you get as a History graduate?

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, the police and armed forces.

Many graduates decide to progress to postgraduate studies, often entering into research and teaching positions.

Professional job: Usually needs a degree
Non-professional job: Doesn't usually need a degree

What qualifications do you need? 

A Level History (or equivalent) is usually necessary, but requirements depend on the university or college.

Be sure to check the grades and other requirements for the institution and course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

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

How will you be assessed?

When studying a History degree, you're likely to be assessed via a mixture of coursework and exams.

Typical coursework assignments include essays, literature reviews, short tests, critical reports, poster sessions and oral presentations. Formal examinations include short answer questions, essays and data analysis. Students often produce final year project reports and dissertations.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

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

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