Best Universities For History In The UK: The Complete 2024 Guide

In the United Kingdom, the pursuit of historical knowledge is not just an academic endeavour but a vibrant tapestry woven with the threads of tradition, innovation, and scholarly excellence. As you navigate the landscape of higher education, seeking the perfect institution to cultivate your love for history, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice amidst a plethora of esteemed universities. From the hallowed halls of ancient academia to the modern corridors of cutting-edge research, each institution offers its own unique blend of expertise, resources, and opportunities for aspiring historians. Join us as we embark on a quest to uncover the best universities for history in the UK, where tradition meets innovation, and the past becomes a gateway to the future.

Best UK Universities for History

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Why Study History in the UK?

Embarking on a journey through history in the UK isn’t just about memorising dates and events. It’s about immersing yourself in a rich tapestry of culture, tradition, and intellectual exploration. Here, the past isn’t confined to dusty textbooks but comes alive through vibrant discussions, immersive experiences, and a dynamic approach to learning.

Immersive Learning Environment: From exploring ancient artefacts in world-class museums to participating in lively debates in historic lecture halls, every aspect of your education is designed to bring history to life.

Rich Historical Heritage: Whether you’re strolling through the cobbled streets of Oxford, tracing the footsteps of monarchs at Windsor Castle, or uncovering archaeological treasures in Edinburgh, history surrounds you at every turn, providing endless inspiration and insight.

Diverse Range of Specialisations: Whether your interests lie in the intricacies of Tudor politics, the impact of colonialism on global societies, or the cultural revolutions of the 20th century, there’s a niche waiting for you to explore and personalise.

Access to World-Class Resources: Whether you’re poring over ancient manuscripts at the British Library or accessing digital archives from the comfort of your dorm room, you’ll have the tools you need to delve deep into the past and uncover new insights.

Top History Universities in the UK

Here are the best universities for History degrees in the UK entering 2024 using the latest QS World University Rankings. 

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge
  • The London School of Economics
  • UCL
  • King’s College London

1. BA in History - University of Oxford Review

The History programme at the University of Oxford impresses with its unparalleled breadth of over 100 options. This reflects the expertise of its 150 professional historians. The course covers African, Asian, American, British, European, and Global and Transnational History from antiquity to the present. Oxford’s commitment to interdisciplinary study, including engagement with languages and other fields like art history and economics, enriches students’ understanding of the past. Besides, Oxford also provides an exceptional platform for students to gain invaluable skills and shape their futures through the study of history.

2. BA (Hons) History - University of Cambridge Review

The History programme at the University of Cambridge offers a rich and immersive experience for students interested in delving into the past. The campus is situated in an ideal environment for historical study, with numerous libraries boasting a vast collection of rare books and manuscripts. As such, students have unparalleled resources at their fingertips. These libraries not only support students in their academic endeavours but also encourage independent research projects. This allows students to explore their own historical interests and inquiries.

Moreover, Cambridge’s museums further enriches the study of history by offering insights into art, material culture, and the history of science. This breadth of resources enables students to engage deeply with various aspects of history, fostering a comprehensive understanding of the past.

3. BA History - LSE Review

The BA History programme at the London School of Economics (LSE) offers a modern and internationally-focused curriculum. It spans from the fifteenth century to the present day. Essentially, they provide students with a comprehensive understanding of historical forces that have shaped the contemporary world. With a distinctive emphasis on the interconnectedness of domestic and international history, students explore political, economic, social, and cultural developments within states alongside their relations between them, fostering a nuanced understanding of historical dynamics. 

Renowned for its world-class research, the Department of International History at LSE integrates groundbreaking scholarship into its teaching. They offer a range of intellectually challenging courses from broad surveys to specialised topics. This includes opportunities for independent research and interdisciplinary study. 

4. History BA - UCL Review

The History BA programme at University College London (UCL) offers a dynamic and adaptable curriculum within a nurturing and inclusive academic environment. Encompassing ancient, medieval, and modern history, the degree provides students with the flexibility to choose modules from an extensive selection covering various geographical regions and time periods. This ranges from the third millennium BCE to the contemporary era. This breadth of choice empowers students to tailor their studies to their interests and academic goals, fostering a diverse and enriching educational experience. 

5. History BA - King's College London Review

The History BA programme at King’s College London (KCL) offers an extensive and diverse curriculum taught by one of the largest history departments in the UK. Their expertise cover every continent and historical period since 300 AD. With a wide range of optional modules, students have the freedom to tailor their degree to their passions and interests. As such, they gain an in-depth understanding of societies spanning from medieval Europe and the Middle East to contemporary Latin America. 

KCL’s History course also equips students with transferrable skills such as critical analysis, research, and communication. Furthermore, KCL’s commitment to graduate employability is evidenced by its high employment rates and starting salaries. They rank 6th in the UK for graduate employability according to the Global University Employability Ranking 2022 published in Times Higher Education.

History University Rankings in the UK

Here is the latest list of the best universities for History in the UK as we enter 2024:

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

How are the Rankings Measured?

The ranking methodology includes several key indicators, such as teaching quality, research output and reputation, industry connections and engagement, international diversity, and citations. These indicators help evaluate the academic environment, resources, faculty expertise, and global impact of relevant institutions. The rankings also consider factors like student satisfaction, graduate employability, and the influence and reach of research conducted by the universities.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a History Programme

Choosing the right history programme is a bit like selecting the perfect book from a vast library. It requires careful consideration, a keen eye for detail, and a dash of intuition. As you embark on this quest for the ideal academic adventure, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

1. Specialisation and Focus: Every history programme has its own unique flavour. This ranges from the broad sweep of world history to specialised studies in a particular era, region, or theme. 

2. Faculty Expertise: The heart and soul of any history programme are its faculty members. They include the scholars, researchers, and educators who will guide you on your academic journey. Take the time to research the faculty profiles, their areas of expertise, and their approach to teaching and mentorship. 

3. Resources and Facilities: History is a hands-on discipline that thrives on access to resources. It may be archival materials, museum collections, or digital databases. You will definitely feel the direct benefits from having such resources in your chosen university. 

4. Flexibility and Customisation: No two historians are alike, and neither are their academic journeys. Look for a programme that offers flexibility and opportunities for customisation. This allows you to tailor your studies to suit your interests, goals, and career aspirations.

5. Alumni Success and Support: Beyond the classroom, the strength of a history programme can often be measured by the achievements of its alumni. Research the career paths and accomplishments of past graduates, could be you in 3-4 years. 

Career Opportunities for History Graduates

Contrary to popular belief, a degree in history opens doors to a wide range of exciting and rewarding career opportunities beyond the hallowed halls of academia. Here are just a few paths you might consider:

1. Education and Academia: For many history graduates, the allure of academia is strong. You could inspire the next generation of historians, cultivate a love for learning, and shape the minds of tomorrow.

2. Heritage and Museums: History isn’t just about studying the past—it’s also about preserving and interpreting it for future generations. Careers in heritage conservation, museum curation, and archival management offer opportunities to work hands-on with historical artefacts, documents, and cultural landmarks. 

3. Public History and Cultural Institutions: History permeates every aspect of society, from politics and law to media and entertainment. Careers in public history and cultural institutions offer opportunities to engage with diverse audiences, interpret historical narratives, and shape public discourse. 

4. Research and Analysis: Historians are detectives of the past, piecing together fragments of evidence to construct coherent narratives and uncover hidden truths. Careers in research and analysis span a wide range of industries, from market research and consulting to government agencies and non-profit organisations. 

5. Law, Politics, and Public Service: History is the study of human behaviour, decision-making, and power dynamics over time—skills that are invaluable in careers related to law, politics, and public service. Whether you’re working as a lawyer, policy analyst, political advisor, or civil servant, your understanding of historical context, precedent, and societal trends can inform your work and drive positive change in the world.

Dissertation Topics for History

Here are some unique and interesting dissertation topics for history:

  1. The Forgotten Voices of Medieval Women: Uncovering Their Roles and Contributions
  2. Trade and Diplomacy in the Silk Road: A Comparative Study of East-West Cultural Exchange
  3. Reinterpreting Witch Hunts: Gender, Power, and Social Control in Early Modern Europe
  4. The Rise of Coffeehouses in 17th Century London: Catalysts for Social Change
  5. Exploring the Global Impact of the Opium Wars: Perspectives from China, Britain, and Beyond
  6. Lost Empires: Investigating the Collapse of Ancient Civilisations through Environmental and Economic Factors
  7. Beyond the Battlefield: The Role of Women in Civil War Medicine and Healthcare
  8. Navigating the Archives: Decoding Secret Histories of Espionage and Intelligence Agencies
  9. The Birth of Modern Tourism: Exploring the Grand Tour and Its Impact on European Identity
  10. From Manuscript to Marketplace: The Evolution of Book Publishing in Early Modern Europe

Frequently Asked Questions about UK History Universities

Studying history provides valuable insights into the human experience, helping us understand the present by examining the past. It fosters critical thinking, analytical skills, and cultural awareness, preparing individuals for a wide range of careers and enriching their understanding of the world.

History graduates pursue diverse career paths, including education, academia, museum curation, archival management, public history, research, law, politics, and public service. The skills gained from studying history—such as research, analysis, and communication—are highly transferable and applicable to a variety of fields.

Studying history cultivates a range of valuable skills, including critical thinking, research proficiency, analytical reasoning, written and oral communication, problem-solving, time management, and empathy. These skills are highly transferable and applicable to various academic, professional, and personal contexts.

To prepare for a career in history, students can engage in a variety of activities, such as pursuing internships or work placements in relevant fields, participating in research projects or conferences, networking with professionals in the field, developing strong writing and research skills, and staying informed about current events and trends in historical scholarship.

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