Study A History Degree In The UK: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Delve into the fascinating world of history with our comprehensive study guide. History is not just a subject—it’s a journey through time, filled with remarkable stories, profound insights, and a deeper understanding of the human experience. This guide is your key to unlocking the secrets of the past. Explore this subject guide to learn more about history.


Table of Contents

What is History?

History is the systematic study and analysis of past events, experiences, actions, and developments of human societies and civilisations. It seeks to understand and interpret the past by examining a wide range of sources, including written records, oral traditions, archaeological findings, artefacts, and other forms of evidence. History aims to provide insight into how societies have evolved over time, the factors that have influenced their growth and decline, and the impact of past events on the present and future.

Key aspects of history include:

  1. Chronology: History places events and developments in chronological order, allowing us to understand the sequence of events and their relationships.

  2. Causation: Historians explore the causes and effects of events, seeking to understand why certain things happened and what consequences they had.

  3. Interpretation: History involves the interpretation of evidence and sources to construct a narrative or explanation of the past. Different historians may offer varying interpretations based on their perspectives and methods.

  4. Context: Historical events are examined within their cultural, social, political, economic, and geographical contexts to gain a deeper understanding of their significance.

  5. Change and Continuity: History reveals how societies have changed over time while also highlighting elements of continuity and tradition.

  6. Perspectives: History often incorporates diverse perspectives, including those of different cultures, classes, genders, and individuals, to provide a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the past.

  7. Historiography: The study of how history has been written and interpreted over time is known as historiography. It reflects changing methodologies, biases, and the evolving understanding of the past.

Why Study History?

Studying history is not merely an academic pursuit but a valuable endeavour that offers numerous benefits and insights into the human experience. Here are some compelling reasons why studying history is important:

  1. Understanding the Past: History allows us to understand how societies, cultures, and civilisations have evolved over time. It provides context for the present and helps us appreciate the roots of our current social, political, and cultural systems.

  2. Learning from Mistakes: By studying historical events and their consequences, we can learn from past mistakes and avoid repeating them. History serves as a cautionary guide, helping societies make informed decisions and policies.

  3. Critical Thinking: Analysing historical sources and events sharpens critical thinking skills. It encourages us to evaluate evidence, weigh conflicting perspectives, and make reasoned judgments, which are valuable skills in many aspects of life.

  4. Developing Empathy: Studying history exposes us to diverse experiences and perspectives. It fosters empathy by allowing us to understand the challenges, triumphs, and struggles of people from different times and backgrounds.

  5. Cultural Awareness: History introduces us to the richness and diversity of human cultures. It helps us appreciate the contributions of various societies to art, literature, science, technology, and philosophy.

  6. Citizenship and Civic Engagement: Knowledge of history is essential for informed citizenship. It enables individuals to participate in political processes, make informed voting decisions, and understand the consequences of public policies.

  7. Preserving Cultural Heritage: Historians play a vital role in preserving and documenting cultural heritage. This includes safeguarding historical sites, artefacts, and traditions that are essential for maintaining a connection to our past.

  8. Identity and Belonging: Understanding one’s historical roots and heritage can provide a sense of identity and belonging. It helps individuals and communities appreciate their shared history and cultural ties

Best Universities for History in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

RankUniversity Name
2University of Oxford
3University of Cambridge
6The London School of Economics
21King's College London
21The University of Edinburgh
28The University of Manchester
38Durham University
43University of St Andrews
45The University of Warwick
51-100Queen Mary University of London
51-100SOAS University of London
51-100University of Exeter
51-100The University of Sheffield
51-100University of Birmingham
51-100University of Bristol
51-100University of Glasgow
51-100University of Leeds
51-100University of York
101-150University of Leicester
101-150University of Liverpool
101-150University of Nottingham
101-150University of Southampton
101-150University of Sussex
151-200Birkbeck, University of London
151-200Cardiff University
151-200Newcastle University
151-200Queen's University Belfast
151-200University of Aberdeen
151-200University of East Anglia (UEA)
151-200University of Reading
201-230Royal Holloway University of London

Entry Requirements for a History Degree

Entry requirements for a history degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific programme. However, there are some common requirements and guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Academic QualificationsTypically, you will need to have completed secondary education or its equivalent. In the UK, this usually means having A-levels, Scottish Highers, or equivalent qualifications.

  2. Subject RequirementsHistory programmes usually require a strong academic background, especially in history-related subjects. It is common to have specific subject requirements or recommendations, such as an A-level or equivalent qualification in History.

  3. A-Level GradesThe specific A-level grades required can vary from one university to another and may depend on the competitiveness of the programme. Generally, you’ll need A-level grades in the range of ABB to AAA or equivalent.

  4. International Baccalaureate (IB)If you’re completing the International Baccalaureate, universities may require a total IB point score in the range of 32-36 or higher, including points achieved in relevant subjects.

  5. Scottish HighersFor applicants in Scotland, universities may require a combination of Scottish Highers, typically in the range of AAAAB to AAABB or higher, including relevant subjects.

  6. Access Courses and Mature StudentsSome universities may consider applicants who have taken access courses or mature students (those who are older and have been out of education for a while). Requirements for mature students may differ, but relevant work experience and a passion for the subject can be beneficial.

Jobs for History Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  1. Historian: Becoming a historian is a natural career choice for history graduates. Historians research, analysse, and interpret historical events, documents, and artifacts. They often work in academia, museums, archives, or research institutions.

  2. Archivist: Archivists are responsible for collecting, preserving, and managing historical records and documents. They work in libraries, museums, government agencies, and corporate archives.

  3. Curator: Curators are responsible for selecting, organising, and managing collections of art, artefacts, or historical objects in museums and galleries. They also plan exhibitions and educational programmes.

  4. Teacher or Professor: History graduates can pursue careers in education, teaching history at the secondary school level or as university professors, sharing their knowledge and passion for the subject with students.

  5. Librarian: Librarians manage and organise library collections, assist patrons with research, and curate historical materials. Specialised historical libraries and research institutions often employ history graduates.

  6. Research Analyst: Many research and consulting firms hire history graduates as research analysts. They conduct research, gather data, and analyse historical trends to provide insights for various industries.

  7. Writer or Journalist: History graduates often have strong research and writing skills, making them suitable candidates for careers in journalism, writing, and publishing. They can specialise in historical reporting or write historical fiction and non-fiction.

  8. Public Historian: Public historians work to engage the public with history through exhibitions, community programmes, and historical interpretation. They often work in cultural heritage organisations or government agencies.

  9. Archaeologist: While this field often requires additional training, history graduates with a passion for archaeology can pursue careers in this area, excavating and studying historical sites and artefacts.

  10. Policy Analyst: Analysing historical data and trends can be valuable in fields such as public policy, where graduates can contribute to policymaking, advocacy, and research organisations.

Salary for History Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,000

Medium-skilled: £21,000

High-skilled: £25,000

Topics for History Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of History and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

Ancient Civilisations:

    • Study the rise and fall of ancient civilisations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, or Rome.
    • Explore the cultural, religious, and political aspects of ancient societies.

Medieval History:

    • Investigate the Middle Ages, including topics like feudalism, the Crusades, or the Hundred Years’ War.
    • Examine the role of knights, kings, and clergy in medieval Europe.

Early Modern History:

    • Research the Renaissance and its impact on art, science, and culture.
    • Explore the Age of Exploration and its consequences for global history.

Modern European History:

    • Analyse the French Revolution and its repercussions on European politics and society.
    • Study the two World Wars and their effects on Europe and the world.

Colonial and Post-Colonial History:

    • Investigate the colonisation of regions like Africa, Asia, or the Americas.
    • Examine the decolonisation movements and the formation of post-colonial nations.

Revolutionary Movements:

    • Research revolutions such as the American Revolution, Russian Revolution, or Chinese Communist Revolution.
    • Analyse the causes, key figures, and consequences of these revolutions.

Social and Cultural History:

    • Explore the history of music, art, fashion, or literature and its role in shaping societies.
    • Study the evolution of social norms, gender roles, and family structures over time.

Economic History:

    • Investigate the development of economic systems, including capitalism, socialism, and mercantilism.
    • Analyse the impact of economic crises, such as the Great Depression.

Environmental History:

    • Examine the relationship between human societies and the natural environment throughout history.
    • Explore topics like deforestation, industrialisation, and conservation efforts.

Religious History:

    • Examine the history of major world religions, their founders, and their influence on cultures and societies.
    • Analyse religious conflicts and movements throughout history.

History Graduates Employment Rate

According to Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), in the 2020-21 academic year, statistics for all history graduates revealed that 47% were in full-time employment, 11% in part-time employment, 12% engaged in both employment and further study, and 13% pursuing full-time study, while 6% were unemployed.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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