How to Apply to Study History at Durham
The Department welcomes applications from candidates with a strong commitment to studying history, a genuine interest in studying a range of historical subjects and types of historical understanding, and a willingness to read widely and to learn to debate and write well. We value intellectual potential as well as academic achievement. Applications are carefully considered by two experienced members of staff and in each case the entire application form will be taken into account. There is no one criterion that automatically results in an offer being made.
Prospective applicants should note that in recent years the Department has attracted large numbers of excellent candidates for admission. In 2011-2012, for example, a total of 1,600 applications were received for only 146 places.
Please see here for entry requirements.
Does the department have preferences for A level subjects? We welcome all combinations with History, although General Studies is not counted as one of your main three A-levels.
When does the department make its decisions? The department endeavours to make offers as quickly as possible, but it will not make all of its offers until it has received all of its on-time applications in January of each year.
Will I be disadvantaged if I apply to Oxbridge? There is absolutely no truth in suggestions that we are biased against Oxbridge candidates. We do not know who of our applicants have applied to Oxbridge; and in practice very many of our students have also applied to Oxbridge. It is true that in some instances, candidates rejected by Durham are given offers by Oxbridge; this is not surprising since we have so many good applicants, and do not interview in the way that Oxbridge colleges do.
Does the department call in applicants for interview? We no longer interview applicants, except in the case of mature students to whom we are considering making an offer.
What is the department's position on deferred entry? We welcome enquiries regarding applications for deferred entry which may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact our Admissions Secretary. If you do apply for a deferred place and you are not made an offer, you are more than welcome to re-apply the following year.
What should I aim for in my personal statement? The department prefers that the largest part of the statement should be given over to historical and reading interests, rather than other extra-curricular activities. We are not looking for you to list every history book that you have read, but rather we are looking for you to explain and reflect upon what you have found worthy of admiration and the kinds of qualities associated with your enjoyment of particular works. We prefer to hear about books you have read recently, rather than childhood favourites (like the Horrible Histories series). We expect clarity and accuracy in your style and use of English and an ability to write engagingly and with insight. We regret that, because of the high numbers of applications that we receive, we cannot offer individual advice about the style and content of personal statements.