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History courses

History involves studying events and people from the past to give us a better understanding of the future. Courses can include ancient to modern day history, and from local to global. You'll learn research skills, how to evaluate archive and source materials and to write clearly. This is a versatile degree with graduates going into politics, law, business, accountancy, international development or further study for careers in the culture or heritage industries, including museums, art galleries and libraries.

Studying history at university

Example course modules

  • Europe in the 20th century
  • Vikings
  • Renaissances and reformantions
  • The history and culture of Ancient Greece
  • Contested nation: Germany, 1871-1918
  • France 1774-1794: reform and revolution
  • History and politics in Latin America: 1930 to present
  • The age of the plague: disease, medicine and society in Western Europe 1348-1665
  • Growth of the USA
  • Russia after Stalin

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 56%
    Male : 44%
  • Mature : 18%
    School leaver : 82%
  • Full-time : 88%
    Part-time : 12%

What students say about history

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • Most courses ask for history

Useful to have

  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Politics
  • English literature
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
History is a very popular subject – in 2012, nearly 11,000 UK students graduated in a history-related course. Obviously, there aren't 11,000 jobs as historians available every year, but history is a good, flexible degree that allows graduates to go into a wide range of different jobs. Consequently, history graduates have an unemployment rate comparable to the national graduate average. Many – probably most – jobs for graduates don't ask for a particular degree to go into them and history graduates are well set to take advantage. That's why so many go into jobs in the finance industry, management and sales and marketing. Around one in five history graduates went into further study last year – only law saw more graduates continue on to study. History and teaching were the most popular further study subjects for history graduates, but law, journalism, politics and museum studies were also popular postgraduate courses.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Other elementary services occupations

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Museum archivist or curator
  • Arts or heritage officer
  • Newspaper or magazine journalist

Other real-life job examples

  • Business analyst
  • PR officer
  • Subject teacher

What employers like about this subject

Studying history will help you to develop subject-specific skills including an understanding of culture and civilisations and how history has influenced them and how to examine and interpret source materials. Useful transferable skills you will gain from a history degree include communication skills, project management, critical thinking and research skills. History graduates tend to go into more general graduate jobs (for which they are well-suited) as there are not many jobs specifically designed for those who study history. Roles that require a history degree, such as work in museums and archives, are extremely competitive to get into.