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V100 History BA Undergraduate  2017


UCAS code V100
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 Years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A-Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1040

Course Content


Year 1

The first year of the History degree offers you the opportunity to study a range of periods and approaches to history. Many of the modules cover quite large topics or long periods; these are intended to introduce you to subjects which may be unfamiliar and which pose new questions and new problems, showing you how wide the study of history really is.

You will choose six modules from a list of approximately 12; you must choose at least one Medieval, one Early Modern and two Late Modern modules.

Most first-year History modules largely follow a common pattern. You will have one weekly lecture and a small-group seminar every two or three weeks. For the seminar, you will be given reading to do in advance, and on the basis of this you and the other students in your group will discuss particular issues. Students are expected to lead the discussion in seminars. Most modules are assessed by coursework essays and by a two-hour examination in May/June, in which you write answers to two essay-style questions.

The modules on offer change each year, as they reflect the research interests of staff; we cannot guarantee in advance that a particular module will be running in any particular year. This is a list of some of the modules available in 2015/16, to give you an idea of the range of different themes we cover in the first year:

  • Modern Times: a Cultural History of Europe, c. 1860-1960
  • The Century of Revolution 
  • New Heaven, New Earth: Latin Christendom and the World, 1000-1300
  • The Birth of Western Society, 300-1050 AD
  • The Making of Modern Africa: Change and Adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Year 2

In the second year, you will study five modules. One of these, ‘Conversations with History’, is a student-led seminar-taught double module which develops your understanding of issues of historiography; it provides an introduction to the writing of more extended historical argument, and prepares students for the final year Dissertation. This is an important feature of our course, and so all Single Honours students will take it. It is divided into different strands covering different themes, and you can choose between these different themes.

Alongside ‘Conversations’, students take four further modules. These are taught intensively over half of the academic year (two in the Michaelmas term and two more in Epiphany and Easter terms).

There are many other departments in the University, of course, and you may take modules from other departments as well – but you may not take more than a total of two such modules in the second and third years. As in the first year, our focus on research-led teaching means that the modules on offer will vary year by year.

This list gives you an idea of some of the modules running in 2015/16:

  • Conversations Strands: Slavery in Africa
  • Islam and the West
  • The Built Environment
  • History and Guilt
  • Sport and Modern History
  • Inventing the Middle Ages.

Year 3

The third year allows you to specialise, with a triple-module Special Subject, taught entirely through seminars, which involves close study of primary sources. For this, you will work in a small group with a specialist in the field – with a three-hour seminar every week. In the final year you will also undertake supervised independent research leading to the writing of a double-module dissertation. Given this emphasis on focused study and independence, there is no requirement for you to study a range of periods in this year.

As well as the Special Subject and the dissertation, you will also take a single module in the third year: third-year History single modules are all strongly reflexive in character, encouraging students to think about the ways in which historical knowledge is produced.

You will choose your own Dissertation topic, through consultation with a supervisor. There are some limits, set by the availability of primary material and the expertise of supervisors, but the potential range of topics is very wide indeed: in recent years topics have varied from representation of bandits in twentieth century Hollywood films to ceremonial in medieval France.

As with modules at other levels, the precise choice of Special Subject and third-year single modules changes from year to year. Our Special Subjects cover a wide range of different periods and historical approaches. This list gives you an idea of some of this range. There are many other special subjects available and the list changes from year to year, allowing us to be completely flexible in the opportunities we provide to students with different historical interests:

Special subjects in 2015/16 include:

  • A World Turned Upside Down: Radicalism in the English Revolution
  • The Black Death
  • 1688: Monarchy and Revolution in Britain
  • From War to Cold War: US Foreign Policy, c. 1944-1948.

Single modules

  • History and its Audiences
  • The History of American Capitalism
  • China, Asia and the World
  • The Making of Modern Europe.

Study Abroad


The Department participates in the University- wide overseas exchanges with:

  • Boston College (USA),
  • the University of British Columbia (Canada),
  • the University of Hong Kong (China) 
  • the National University of Singapore (Singapore).

Students can apply to spend the second year of their degree overseas. If you study on the four-year Joint Honours Modern European Languages and History degree, you will spend your third year abroad at a European university or a work placement as part of the University’s ERASMUS exchanges.

Course Learning and Teaching

The BA History programme is directed towards acquisition of a high standard of skills in research, analysis and expression, both written and oral. As a student on the programme, you will receive an average of 6.5 hours of timetabled contact per week over the course of the programme. This will include a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. The balance between these activities will change over the course of the programme as you develop your knowledge and abilities as an independent learner.

Timetabled contact is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting-point for your development as an independent, self-motivated learner. In the first year, you will spend around 75% of your term-time working hours in independent research; by the final year, this will rise to around 90%. As the QAA History Subject Benchmark statement makes clear (sec 6.6): ‘Most of a history student’s time is spent working independently, reading, thinking and writing’

In the first year, you will receive 8.5 hours of timetabled contact each week. A choice of six modules provides an induction into the discipline of advanced historical study. The modules offer engagement with different periods and approaches to the study of the past, and experience of the way in which History, as a community of practice, encompasses the diversity of the human experience. Lectures introduce broad historical questions and offer contextualisation and critical commentary; seminars provide an opportunity for students to develop their critical skills through discussion for which they have prepared in advance. A resource package for each module, provided through the on-line learning environment and as a physical handbook, will guide your independent research. You will also attend sessions on study skills, tailored to the discipline, covering library resources, note-taking, seminar work and essay writing.

In the second year, there is an increased emphasis on the development of critical and analytical skills. The curriculum continues to require you to engage with a range of periods and styles of historical study, with modules introducing new problems in a more specific framework. One compulsory module develops the induction into the community of practice through progression to a research-led seminar-based learning style. In view of the increased role of smaller-group work, which requires more independent preparation by students, the average timetabled contact time at Level 2 is 7.5 hours per week.

In the third year you will be expected to take further responsibility for managing your own time. The curriculum, while continuing to offer support and guidance, will require you to use the skills in independent study and time management which you have developed in the two preceding years. The dissertation, in particular, requires you to establish your own research agenda and identify primary historical sources and extended reading lists, giving you the opportunity to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline. In your Special Subject you will be involved in a seminar group which meets each week to discuss the interpretation of chosen primary sources and to interrogate the secondary literature. You will be expected to spend at least 35 hours each week in independent research, and for this reason timetabled contact is limited to an average of 4.5 hours each week.

Throughout the programme you will also benefit from the ready accessibility of staff, who will respond to emails within two working days, and each of whom sets aside two hours each week in which students may drop in to see them. This un-timetabled one-to-one contact usually focuses on a specific issue of analysis or argument and gives students a strong sense of personal engagement with learning. You will be encouraged to attend the department’s extensive programme of research-related activities, including its research seminar series, and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers and other events organised by the student-run History Society. In addition to this, you will be invited to attend regular events organised jointly by the department and the Careers, Employability, and Enterprise Centre.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • Our current entry requirements for History BA (V100) are:
    • A-Level - A*AA including History
    • Cambridge Pre-U - D2D3D3 including History
    • IB is 38 overall with 666 at Higher Level including History
    • Scottish Advanced Highers – A1, A, A in Advanced Highers including History and A, A, A, A, A in Highers.
    • Welsh Baccalaureate - Grade C with A* and A at A-level (or equivalent), with at least an 'A' in A-level History.
  • Please note ‘Ancient History’ is not accepted in lieu of ‘History’.
  • We do not accept General Studies or Critical Thinking A-Level, Global and Independent Research Cambridge Pre-U and Extended Project Qualification as part of our offer.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £9,250.00
Home Student £9,250.00
Island Student £9,250.00
International non-EU Student £17,400.00

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities


History students at Durham acquire a range of intellectual and general skills which make them very attractive to employers. These skills include: researching, evaluating, organizing and presenting material; clarity and correctness of expression; discrimination and judgement; self-discipline and capacity for extended independent work; appreciation of the validity of the views of others, and imaginative insight.

All these skills and aptitudes make Durham students suitable for a variety of careers from the civil service to law, banking and business, journalism and the media, teaching and academia.

Of thse students who graduated in 2015:

  • 87% are in paid employment or further study 6 months after graduation

Of those in employment:

  • 79% are in graduate level employment
  • Median salary £22,269

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2014/15 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found

A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree in History. Some remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a Masters, notably at Durham but also other prestigious institutions . Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, finance, teaching and curating to name but a few. As one of the outstanding history departments in the UK, we are delighted that many of our undergraduates choose to continue to study here for Masters degrees or PhDs. We have an excellent reputation as a centre for training historians at higher levels. The skills that higher degrees can bring are valued very highly by a wide range of employers - a PhD can be a passport to a high-ranking job in the civil service, for example, as well as teaching in higher education.

Reading history at Durham has given me an expansive skill set being able to analyse large quantities of information and to successfully identify and condense key points which matter strategically to our clients. Being able to prioritise tasks and being able to work efficiently on your own as well as within teams to meet every client deadline is essential; the development of strong time management skills as a history undergraduate at Durham has facilitated my ability to manage workload, meet deadlines and excel under pressure.

Employment development opportunities

Just as we help you to reflect academically on your progress as you develop into a mature historian, so we also want you to reflect on how the many advanced skills you are acquiring can be harnessed for your career. We want you to become 'outward-facing' so that you can talk to employers about how you've developed through your degree, and what you bring to their commercial environment.

Helping students to articulate their degree-specific skills in an 'outward-facing' way is at the very centre of our strategic planning as we adapt our curriculum. We have woven this into our planning and strategy These skills are woven into much of the work you do in our degree programme. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that our graduates have gone on to successful careers in a wide variety of fields, from the civil service, law, banking and business, to teaching, media, journalism, the military and further study.

Employers generally divide the skills they look for into three broad areas:

  • self reliance
  • people skills
  • general employment

The History degree programme develops a number of specific qualities that employers value in particular:

  • creativity
  • flexibility
  • leadership
  • confidence
  • the ability to express views orally and in writing
  • integrity
  • a strong work ethic
  • initiative
  • problem-solving
  • team-work
  • time management
  • organization
  • and, above all, independence.


Many employers ask you to supply academic references, from one of your tutors. Your tutors are usually very happy to help with this, though the provision of references is at the individual tutor's discretion. You should ask tutors who know you and your work well, such as a special subject or dissertation tutor.

Advisors from the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre provide short presentations to each year group as part of joined up session with academic careers contact and head of undergraduate studies.
- Year 1, covers an introduction to developing employability skills.
- Year 2, focus on internships /work experience.
- Year 3, focus on graduate schemes /recruitment cycle/ effective on-line applications

We welcome applications from candidates who are studying for law or non-law degree subjects and approximately 45% of our graduate intake each year is made up of non-lawyers. Of our non-law graduates, we recruit a lot of Historians and we are confident that the degree helps our trainees to utilise and continue to develop key skills which are highly relevant for a career as a lawyer in an global practice. Such skills include analysis, deduction, dealing with volume in an efficient manner and providing logical arguments.

Durham University History graduates progress into an incredibly diverse range of careers and employment sectors. The public, private and not-for-profits sectors are all strongly represented with graduates entering professions such as law, armed forces, banking, teaching, marketing, advertising, PR, accountancy, HR, consultancy, press officer, parliamentary research and archiving to name but a few. Examples of high profile recent employers include Deloitte, European Union, JP Morgan, Slaughter & May, Watson Wyatt, Weber Shandwick, Marks & Spencer, Centrica, Royal Marines, Churchill Archives Centre.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Campus Tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information



Durham – an excellent History Department in a unique historical location.

Durham University has one of the most highly regarded history departments in the UK and our students love being here. This reputation is the product of the quality and commitment of our staff, and the breadth of our teaching, which reflects the research interests of a Department with an international outlook.

We offer modules covering periods from the Middle Ages to the present and many different parts of the world: Chinese, Japanese, African and US history are all taught at Durham University, alongside British and other European history. Our degree courses reflect the rich variety of modern historical writing, including cultural, media and gender history as well as political, religious, social and economic history. We are proud to attract so many bright and articulate students; our students achieve excellent results, and proceed to successful careers in both the private and public sectors.

  • 92% of our History students were satisfied with the quality of their course in the National Student Survey 2015 (sector-wide average 90%).
  • 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2016.
  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016.
  • 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2016.

Located in the historic heart of Durham City, the Department is close to the World Heritage Site of the Cathedral and Castle. We have excellent libraries, containing archives and book collections of international significance and providing access to a huge range of teaching and online resources, which make us a perfect choice for undergraduate study. Teaching takes place in lecture halls in various areas of the University site, and for smaller groups in staff offices and seminar rooms, many fitted with state-of-the-art IT equipment and mostly located in the Department premises at 43 North Bailey.