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  1. Royal Holloway's institution code: R72
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    • History BA - V100
    • History with Integrated Foundation Year BA - V10F
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History

BA

Course options

Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: V100

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

Key information

Duration: 4 years full time

UCAS code: V10F

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

View this course

The course

History (BA)

Studying History is exciting and rewarding; it encourages you to appreciate the surprising variety of human experience. And at the same time, it sharpens your skills of analysis, argument and communication, helping you to become someone others rely on for persuasive arguments and sound judgement.

Right from the start, you will choose your own path through our thought-provoking landscapes, from Magna Carta to modern China, exploring topics as diverse as the Byzantine Empire, Tudor queenship, or international terrorism in the twentieth century.

In your second and final years, you will have the opportunity to develop your own interests along with chances to do sustained independent research. At the same time, there are chances to explore and try new things all the way to the final term.

Studying in the shadow of Windsor Castle and Runnymede allows you meet history face-to-face, with access to the unique archives and collections held in our libraries and the unparalleled libraries, museums, and historic sites of London not far away. Our friendly system of small-group teaching offers the chance to get to know and work with leading researchers and world experts in your subject from the first weeks of your degree.

  • Learn in small teaching groups from the start.
  • Develop analytical and communication skills.
  • Choose from a huge range of modules at other University of London colleges
  • Become involved in our world-leading research centres, such as the Holocaust Research Institute.
  • Graduate destinations include museum curators, law and marketing.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • History in the Making is Royal Holloway’s first year foundation History module. This module covers the broad sweep of human history, but it is not intended to provide a straightforward narrative from the ancient to the modern world. Instead, this module seeks to introduce our first-year students to an array of different topics and themes - from the rise of Christianity to the rise of modern nation states - that they will encounter again in the Gateway, Survey, Further and Special Subjects that they take during their degree. How have historians discussed themes like Revolution or Gender? What kinds of sources have they used to do so? These, and many other thought-provoking questions, are interrogated over the two terms of this module and explored from a global, rather than a simply “Western,” perspective. In moving forwards chronologically, this module also contemplates how our very understanding of what history is and what history is for has evolved. Finally, History in the Making encourages students to think about the practice and use of history beyond the academy, about how the wider public has engaged with, manipulated and consumed the past. This ‘public history’ dimension is present in a number of lectures across both terms and all students have the opportunity to explore these issues themselves in the group poster project and presentation. Although titled “History in the Making”, this module might easily have been called “Historians in the Making”, providing our students with the skills, methods and critical approach to the past that prove essential to successfully completing a university History degree.

Year 2
  • The Independent Research Project offers students with a rewarding opportunity to develop their research and analytical skills. They can either write a longer-form 4000-word essay, which is a valuable stepping-stone towards the final year Dissertation, or produce a series of blog posts as a ‘Public History’ project suitable for a general audience. Each student’s Independent Research Project is linked to their chosen Further Subject module [see below], and they are supervised by their Further Subject tutor. In conjunction with their supervisor, students develop a research topic of their choosing. Emphasis is placed on primary source analysis, together with engaged with relevant historiographic debates among historians.

  • Concepts in History explores ‘big ideas’. Choosing one workshop from a range of options, students focus on a particular theme, developing expertise in this area as they hone their skills of historical analysis and conceptual interpretation. Balancing depth and range, students explore their chosen ‘concept’ in diverse historical settings, taking in chronologies from the ancient to the modern, as well as exploring different ‘spaces’ from across the globe. Taught through seminars, the module emphasises collaborative learning, including through group work. The module has an innovative teaching approach involving two members of academic staff leading each group, their expertise relating to different chronologies and geographies and so aiding a comparative approach. Recent workshop themes have included: Class, Emotions, Empire, Food and Drink, Household and Home, Identity, Memory, Race, Truth and War.

Year 3
  • NB: Joint Honours students may choose to do a Dissertation in History or in their other academic department. In the final year of your History degree you will be asked to complete a dissertation – an 8000 word piece of independent work based on original and sustained primary source research. This may sound a little daunting, but the dissertation is the culmination of the research skills that you have learned over the course of your degree and is a great opportunity to pursue independent research and write on a subject about which you feel passionate. It is your chance to make a real contribution to history. The dissertation is about independent, selfdirected work. It should be based on a close and in-depth engagement with primary material and formulate a new and convincing argument based on those sources. It is more challenging than other pieces of work, but ideally also more fun and fulfilling. Dissertations are attached to one of your Special Subject Modules and you can choose which one. The knowledge and skills that you acquire from your Special Subject feeds into the dissertation. Your main source of support for the dissertation is your chosen Special Subject tutor who is also your Dissertation supervisor and it is important to work closely with her or him on throughout your research project.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • This sweeping module introduces students to the dramatic story of the ancient world, from the classical Greeks and Romans to the rise of Christianity and Islam. That story begins with Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey, and the emergence of the Greek city states led by the military might of Sparta and the democratic genius of Athens. The Greeks drove back the Persian empire to the east, but as the city states declined, they fell under the dominion of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. We follow Alexander’s conquests to the borders of India and back, yet his empire died with him while further west Rome was rising. The Roman Republic, with its unique constitution and marching legions, dominated the Mediterranean world only to destroy itself through ambition and civil war, until power fell into the hands of one man: Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Over the next 400 years the Roman empire spanned from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain south to the Sahara and east to the Euphrates. Within that empire a new faith emerged, venerating Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and gathered strength until the emperor Constantine converted and Christianity became the favoured imperial religion. By this time, however, the empire was First Year Modules History Department - Royal Holloway, University of London 9 facing ever greater challenges. Goths and Franks swept across western Europe, their conquests immortalised by Edward Gibbon as the “Decline and Fall of Rome”. In the east Roman power survived as the Byzantine empire centred on Constantinople. While in Arabia, the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed inspired the forces of Islam, which swept forth to redraw the map of the ancient world. Throughout this wide-ranging module, we explore the values these societies expressed in their own words (read in translation), debate the latest scholarship, and assess the ancient legacies that shaped our modern age.

  • This module investigates the origins of our ideas about human rights and duties, revolution and democracy, consent and liberty. Key original texts are studied, ranging from Plato and Aristotle in the ancient world to Machiavelli, More, Hobbes, Locke and the Enlightenment in the transition from the early modern to the modern world. The module takes a wide view of the boundaries of ‘European Political Thought’, also introducing several political thinkers from the Islamic world like al-Mawardi, Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyya. Like their Christian counterparts elsewhere, their work marked a close engagement with Greek philosophy, and explored the question of what the presence of an almighty creator God meant for the conduct of human politics. This module always keeps an eye on what the close and careful reading of classical texts has to offer for our understanding of politics in the present. Working with primary sources, rather than the learning of factual details, stands at the centre of both how the module is taught and how it is assessed.

  • The terms ‘Middle Ages’ and ‘Medieval’ are often used to evoke a dark and bigoted world, wracked by war, pestilence and superstition and oppressed by tyrannical kings and scheming priests. The image is not entirely false as all those things certainly did happen in the Middle Ages. But then again, they also occurred in most other periods of human history, including the twentieth century. Those aspects aside, the period from c.400 to c.1500 saw Western Europe transform itself from the poorer part of the retreating Roman empire to a wealthy, sophisticated and dynamic society that was starting to explore the world far beyond its borders. This module explores some of the changes and developments that took place along the way and answers some of the questions that you may always have wanted to ask: What happened after the Roman empire fell? What was ‘feudalism’? How were castles and Gothic cathedrals built? Why did the Pope become so powerful? What were the Crusades? Why did the Hundred Years’ War go on for so long? How did Europe survive after losing as much as half its population in the Black Death? And does this remote era have any relevance whatsoever to the modern world?

  • The early modern period was an age of change. It has been seen by many as the beginning of modernity, for it witnessed the consolidation of both national monarchies and the central state, the split of Christianity with the emergence of the Reformation, the spread of Islam to the Balkans, European expansion into the ‘new world’, the introduction of print, and significant changes in patterns of consumption. This module assesses the impact that these processes had on the lives of ordinary early modern Europeans and on their ways of making sense of the changes in the world around them. For example, we examine how the process of state-building brought about a new culture of discipline and self-restraint in everyday life; how people’s attitudes to the sacred and standards of morality changed with the spread of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. We ask whether the introduction of print revolutionised ordinary people’s access to information and knowledge, and whether the encounter with Native Americans stimulated the development of a separate European identity, perceived as superior. This module also addresses continuities and changes in the domestic and private spheres of individuals’ lives -- gender relations, patterns of family life, ideas about childhood and intimacy, attitudes to health and hygiene, birth and death. Throughout the emphasis is on the experience of ordinary people.

  • From the Enlightenment to the collapse of Communism, Europeans have struggled to make sense of and shape a continent in the grip of profound changes. Revolution, industrialisation and urbanisation transformed the face of politics and societies and spawned a series of new ideologies that continue to shape our world today. This module surveys a range of major events and dynamics from the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first centuries, including the French Revolution, the emergence of the nation state, the decline of monarchy, the rise of mass politics, the emergence of the working classes and the middle classes, the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism, the Second World War and the Cold War. In studying specific events and developments students are also introduced to more general concepts like revolution, constitutionalism, liberalism, nationalism, industrialisation, urbanisation, socialism, communism, fascism, parliamentary democracy and the welfare state. Exposure to different historical methods and conflicting interpretations helps students to hone their own analytical skills. The emphasis throughout the module is on recovering the experiences of Europeans across more than two turbulent centuries when the very shape of the modern world was fiercely contested.

  • The module introduces students to the history of the non-Western world over the past one hundred years or so, a period that resulted in - as some historians have suggested - the decline of the West and the rise of the Rest in political terms. In regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, the twentieth century was hugely significant, witnessing the downfall of empires and long-held ideologies, on the one hand, and, on the other, the advent of revolutionary struggles and movements that created new nation-states. Its legacies continue to affect and shape the world on a regional and global level. The lens through which this exploration takes place is provided by the lives and careers of some of the most influential non-Western political leaders, including advocate of non-violent resistance MK Gandhi, architect of Communist China Mao Zedong, South African anti-apartheid politician Nelson Mandela, Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, and Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Whether nationalists, monarchs, communists, dictators, or inspired by religious belief, their individual stories provide students with the starting point for exploring - both thematically and comparatively - key developments that have shaped their respective countries and the world in which we live today.

  • You are now a student in the University of London, so what better place to start your studies than with the fascinating story of our vibrant city? ‘World City: A History of London’ focuses on the dynamic and ever-changing history of the capital, beginning in Term One with its settlement by the Romans in the first century, through the turbulent years of the Reformation and the Great Fire of 1666. Term Two turns to the modern city – Georgian London and the city’s rapid expansion during the Victorian era, through the impact of two world wars in the twentieth century and ending with the recent re-emergence of London as a global and multi-cultural city. During the module you engage actively with two thousand years of history, analysing documents, material objects and the buildings of London, and exploring the ‘public history’ of London outside the classroom through museum visits and site trips. The module is based around a thematic study of London over a long historical period – we study the built environment and architecture of the city; settlements and the migration of peoples; patterns of religious faith and (un)belief; the lives of women in the city; the changing material culture of the city; and racial encounters and differences in the city. On your journey through the history of London, you also encounter the Londoners whose writings have shaped and recorded the city, such as Samuel Pepys, Fanny Burney, Charles Dickens, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, Virginia Woolf, and Monica Ali. This module is designed not just as a gateway to the history and geography of the diverse, resilient capital city on our doorstep, but as a way of helping us to understand the London of today.

Year 2

Global History

  • This module introduces students to digital technologies that have been applied to historical studies. Through lectures, practical workshops and seminars we develop a grounding in different digital approaches that have been used for both research and public engagement to study the past. We consider different approachs, some high-profile projects that have applied them, practical and ethical considerations from using them, and, in some cases, have a go ourselves. After introducing Digital Histories and the Digital Humanities more broadly we move on to focusing on specific themes including: digital archives and databases, GIS and WebMapping, 3d recording and the digital museum, making 3d models and 3d printing, 3d modelling and “reconstructions” and multisensory digital pasts. As we learn different skill sets students design a project that uses a digital approach either to answer a specific research question or to be used for public engagement. Students come away understanding that digital approaches are not independent of historical research, but rather are powerful tools with the potential to unlock new avenues into research and allow different approaches to a range of research questions. While students develop their skills they also learn correct application and understand the importance of not applying digital approaches just for the sake of a digital approach, but instead know when a technique or methodology might best support a research question.

  • The module explores perceptions of the holy man in different religions and traditions through the centuries, in the wider historical and cultural context. Through a variety of visual sources such as icons, reliquaries and other forms of sacred art, and textual sources (in translation), including scriptural, theological, philosophical, hagiographical, and hymnographical texts, students familiarise themselves with important aspects of sanctity and spirituality, assessing the place and role of holy men and women in society, both in East and West. Covering Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, the module examines the ideals, practices and experiences of hermits and coenobetic monks, stylites and holy fools, martyrs and married saints, among other groups, looking at ways in which ‘holiness’ and ‘sacred space’ can be a significant aspect of historical research in our attempt to understand a period, a society and a culture.

  • The Ottoman Empire was the largest and longest-surviving Muslim empire in history. This module explores the empire at its height, when it reached Croatia and Algeria in the west, the Persian Gulf in the east, Ukraine in the north and Yemen in the south, while being centred in the Middle East and Balkans. Covering the period from the conquest of Constantinople to the accession of the modernising Sultan Selim III, the module traces dramatic changes in the both the internal dynamics of the empire and its position in the world, exploring topics including the political structure of the empire, the role of Islam and religious conversion, the place of the large non-Muslim population, Ottoman literature and culture, and the empire’s relations with Christian powers in Europe. Connecting Europe with Asia and Africa, the Ottoman Empire played a critical role in the emergence of the modern world, and the module engages with key questions in early modern global history, including the development of the concept of Europe and the shift of economic and political power from east to west.

  • This module explores the transformation from empire to nation state in the Near and Middle East, from Greece to Iran, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We study the ambitious attempts at modernisation undertaken by Middle Eastern governments, as the region came under intense pressure from western colonial powers focusing on the Ottoman Empire. We then explore the impact of the First World War, which shattered the region’s political order, and look at the different types of nation-state that emerged in its aftermath: colonial states like French-ruled Syria and Lebanon, independent monarchies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the aggressively secular Republic of Turkey. The key historical process in this period was the eclipse of old religious and imperial forms of identity by new national identities. The rise of nationalism manifested in dynamic and creative political and cultural reform, but also in horrific acts of violence, including the Armenian genocide. The module also explores the ways in which Middle Easterners reconciled Islam with modernity, and the integration of the region into the global capitalist economy. Overhanging all of the topics we study is the vexed historiographical question of whether the transition to modernity necessarily meant westernisation.

  • ‘We seem, as it were, to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.’ (Sir John Seeley, The Expansion of England, 1883). Despite Seeley’s assertion of accidental conquest, at its zenith the British empire decidedly controlled over a quarter of the world’s global real estate, and a fifth of the world’s population. The economic, cultural and global impact of British colonialism is still very much apparent today - from contested borders and inter-state disputes, through languages and cultures, to the inequities in wealth and trade that exist between the prosperous ‘North’ and the underdeveloped ‘South’. Why, then, was imperial expansion so vehemently defended by its protagonists in the nineteenth century? And what made colonial conquest, colonisation, and economic exploitation of non-European spaces feasible on such a global scale and for so long? These are the ‘big questions’ that underpin this module. Using documentary sources and specialist texts and articles, we investigate various aspects of British colonial rule from the perspective of its practitioners and from that of their colonial ‘subjects’. The intention is to understand European imperialism on its own terms, to interrogate the cultural and conceptual discourses that underpinned its existence, and to reflect upon the many ways in which the history of European empire has shaped the modern world in which we live today.

  • At the beginning of the twentieth century, the British Empire reached its zenith and yet, by the 1960s, it had all but disappeared. This module covers the history of Britain’s expansion and contraction in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, from the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War to the achievement of African independence during the premiership of Harold Macmillan. Case studies focus on the Empire’s presence in metropolitan life, the emerging Dominion powers; the contribution of the empire to the First World War; the rise of Indian nationalism; the Empire in the Middle East and South-East Asia; and the role of the Cold War in decolonisation. Recurrent themes include economics and empire; the meaning of ‘race’; the nature of colonial rule; global power and international relations; local responses to British colonialism; and the rise of colonial nationalism.

  • This module explores how China made its transition from isolated, self-contained ‘Middle Kingdom’ in the middle of the nineteenth century, to its present-day status as global superpower. The module starts with the Opium Wars, which announced the arrival of foreign powers in China, but also marked the beginning of its opening up to a new age. It then follows China’s development, navigating the major themes of Chinese modern history including the social stresses and political movements that led to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in the Revolution of 1911, and the May Fourth Movement of 1919; the origins and effects of the Sino-Japanese War; the rise of Chinese Communism and its impact after Mao came to power, from the Long March to the Cultural Revolution; and China’s progress since 1978 in balancing communist principles with market-driven economic growth. Overall, the module examines how a new nation was built, not just in political and social terms but also through the experiences of the people who lived through it.

  • What is international law? When was it created and by whom? Whom does it cover and to whom does it apply? For a historian, the answers to these questions are never straightforward. International law is a paradox: it is neither international nor is it law. Yet, it is a normative order that has held a lot of appeal in the changing modern world. What we understand to be international law is a product of history, politics, religion, science, theory, and compromise. It is a historically constituted phenomenon. This module sheds light on the historical legal tradition that we understand as international law. It shows that international law was not written by modern parliaments, but created on the ground by greedy conquistadors, on the high seas by ambitious ship captains, in courts by wily litigants, on the page by imprisoned prodigies, in protest by irreverent diplomats, and in international diplomacy by idealistic jurists. Its content focuses on these global disputes and how their resolutions created enduring principles of the international legal order we know today. Our histories take us all over the world: to the New World with zealous missionaries, to antipodean waters with Royal Navy explorers, to the Malacca Straits in Indonesia with Dutch merchants, to the subcontinent of India with early- modern joint stock companies, to the Congress of Vienna with fierce delegates, and to the League of Nations with idealistic statesmen.

  • Refugees are arguably the most important social, political and legal category of the twentieth century and are set to remain so. Few historical processes have had a greater impact on the political and social contours of our contemporary world than the protracted and intermittent un-mixing of peoples during the past century. This module introduces students to the history of refugees in the twentieth century by unpicking the diverse causes, consequences and meanings of forced migration. The module takes a global approach and examines in chronological succession three important cases of population displacement which were also pivotal moments in the reconfiguration of the refugee question. These include: (a) the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, population movements in Eastern Europe during the First World War and the Greco-Turkish exchange of populations in 1922-1923; (b) the un-mixing of peoples during the 1947 Partition of India; and, (c) persecution and forced migration in 1980s and 1990s Latin America. The module also discusses the future challenges, such as climate-induced displacement. The module approaches the history of refugees from a comparative perspective and situates it in the context of inter-communal violence, border-making, imperial collapse, nation-state formation and political conflict. It also connects displacement to the parallel processes of resettlement, integration and refugee memory. The module draws insights from political science, international relations and social anthropology and ultimately aims to acquaint students with the ways ‘refugees’ shaped local societies and global politics throughout the twentieth century and across the world. Students taking the module are encouraged to have contact with local and national organisations in Britain working with refugees.

  • This module sketches the emergence of modern India (and its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. It includes such iconic historical events as the Great Mutiny-Uprising of 1857, the Amritsar massacre, Gandhi’s Salt March, the Partition of India into Pakistan and India, and the recent slide of the region into the grip of competing religious fundamentalisms. Behind these events stand bigger questions that have also affected other parts of the so-called ‘Third World’: how has colonialism changed local social and political structures and to what extent can it be blamed for problems in the present? To what extent have the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan societies of the South managed to fit in modern identity politics? To what extent is ‘development’ an achievable or even valid political goal in this region? This module seeks to give students a sound factual and conceptual framework that – alongside being better informed about one of the hot topics of today – facilitate subsequent learning in Further and Special Subject modules with a South Asian flavour.

  • According to recent World Economic Forum polls conducted among 18–35-year-olds in nearly 200 countries, the planet’s most urgent crises include religious conflict, government accountability, poverty, food and water (in)security, inequality, and climate change. These problems, in turn, raise pressing collective conundrums, such as: How can population growth and resources be brought into better balance? How can changing the status of women help improve the broader human condition? How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes? How can the threat of new and re-emerging diseases be reduced? How can shared values and security strategies reduce ethnic conflict, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction? And how can governments work together to address the threats associated with global warning? But every global challenge has its own ‘history’, closely linked to developments taking place in different parts of the world over the last century or so (if not longer). This module, therefore, adopts a thematic approach towards making sense of the recent historical context in which these challenges have emerged. For their assessed coursework, students produce a policy report, in which they draw on their skills and knowledge as historians to explore issues that today are regarded as threatening the whole planet’s future wellbeing.

Ancient and Medieval Worlds 

  • The Roman Republic occupies a special place in the history of Western civilisation. From humble beginnings beside the river Tiber, the Romans expanded to dominate the classical world. Their armies defeated Carthage and the successors of Alexander the Great, and brought all the surrounding peoples under Roman rule. Yet the triumph of the Republic was also its tragedy. Political and socio-economic crisis plunged Rome into a descending spiral of civil war as rival warlords struggled for supremacy, until the Republican constitution collapsed and was replaced by the autocratic Roman empire. In this module, we explore the history of the Republic from the foundation of Rome to the murder of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC. Students examine the social and political pressures that drove Rome to conquer her Mediterranean empire and the consequences of that expansion for the Romans and for the peoples they conquered. The major literary sources are discussed in translation, together with the evidence of archaeology and material culture which helps us to bring the ancient Romans to life.

  • For almost half a millennium, the Roman empire ruled over the ancient Mediterranean world. This module surveys the golden years of imperial Rome, from the achievement of sole rule by the first emperor Augustus (31 BC - AD 14) to the murder of Commodus (the white-clad emperor from Gladiator) in AD 192. At its peak, Rome’s empire spanned from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain south to North Africa and east to Syria, enclosing the Mediterranean Sea within a single dominion. We analyse the political, social and cultural developments under the emperors of the first and second centuries AD, and reassess their achievements and legacies: Claudius’ invasion of Britain, Nero’s cultured tyranny, the terrible efficiency of Domitian, Trajan the conqueror, and the philosophical Marcus Aurelius. We likewise explore fundamental themes that shaped the wider empire, including imperial frontier policy and administration, the process of Romanisation, and the nature of Roman religion. The evidence of art and architecture is examined, particularly the monuments from Rome herself and the wealth of material preserved in the buried town of Pompeii, alongside the major literary sources all readily available in English translation.

  • In antiquity, the history of science was not always a narrative of progress, and common beliefs and scientific theory were generally at odds. While the broader population largely believed that the earth was flat, scientists routinely worked with sphere shaped models. They even went as far as calculating the circumference of the earth. But some theories were too counter-intuitive even for scientists: by at least the 3rd century BC the theory of the solar system as we know it today had been discovered, but never made it into the mainstream. Rather, scientists came up with very convoluted systems, which had the earth in the centre of the universe rather than orbiting around the sun. This module introduces you to some more unexpected twists and turns in the history of ancient science, for instance attempts at explaining phenomena such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions or even thunder or rainbows. We also cover horoscopes, music theory, alchemy and atoms. Moreover, you hear that it could be challenging to be a scientist: Pythagoras had to go into exile for political reasons, Archimedes had to move into arms development and Maria, who is at the root of what later became chemistry, was all but forgotten.

  • This module studies the birth of a new European order. It runs from the slow disintegration and eventual collapse of the Roman empire in the West to the beginnings of a new European empire under the Carolingians. The Germanic ‘barbarians’ who took over former Roman provinces and areas under Roman influence in what we now call Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain evolved between them a collection of states and a range of international relations that would shape the whole of European politics and society for centuries to come. We take a mixture of thematic and narrative approaches to this vast topic, using primary sources in translation throughout, and explore the nature of the new states, their ruling elites, their religion and culture, and their relations (friendly and hostile) with the wider world of the old Byzantine empire and the new empire of the Islamic Caliphate.

  • This module explores, thematically and conceptually, a crucial stage in the development of Europe. The period c.1000–1300 in Europe saw some of the farthest-reaching changes in the continent’s history; changes that shape the world we live in today. The frontiers of western Europe expanded in almost every direction through conquest and settlement; the powers of both secular and ecclesiastical authorities increased through the growth of governments and state bureaucracies; there was rapid growth in the economy and in the power of those who controlled production; the emergence and development of new and diverse forms and expressions of religious life and devotion; and the establishment of an international European culture in the worlds of learning and the arts. At the same time, this period saw the birth of the Inquisition, the persecution of heretics and other religious minorities such as the Jews, and of perceived sexual deviants; increasingly effective state oppression of political dissent; and growing corruption in institutions. The approach of the module is firmly comparative, and the geographical scope is wide: from the British Isles to the Crusader States.

  • Assumptions about the limitations and subordination of the female sex, reflected in the medieval preference for inheritance in the male line, seemed to exclude women from demonstrating royal power and authority. Monarchy was a role theoretically moulded for men; in the intensely Christian society of the Latin West female sovereignty could be decried as unnatural and inherently riven with sexual predation. Particular circumstances and personalities challenged these ideas. The module operates though a number of case-studies, all running under the thematic headings of (as appropriate): daughter, wife, mother and widow. In doing so, we see that the importance of blood-line; influence over the court, the royal bed and children; as well as patronage of cultural outlets and the Church, meant – even in the face of savage criticism – queens could both guide and exercise royal authority. Two case-studies external to the Latin West (Byzantium and the Mongols) offer fruitful and engaging comparative material.

History of Asia and the Near East

  • By the middle of the seventh century, the very existence of the Byzantium (also known as the Byzantine Empire) was in question. It had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital city of Constantinople was now under direct threat. Yet the state not only weathered this period of crisis but revived and flourished so that by 1050, it was once more a major power in the region, stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why it survived, how it reversed the long series of defeats and the profound changes that took place in its military organisation, society, religious life, art and culture. It also examines how one key to its success was the way in which it interacted with the world around it, particularly with the Islamic caliphate, western Europe and the Slavonic world. Although the Byzantines frequently fought their neighbours, they preferred where possible to influence them through diplomacy and conversion. Then in the later eleventh century, new enemies appeared on the borders and Byzantium began to contract once more, a series of events that was to provide the background for the later launch of the First Crusade in 1095.

  • The bloody victory of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of Latin Christian rule in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the crusaders maintained their hold on a region which was of immense spiritual, economic and political significance to the Muslim world and the Byzantine Empire as well. The reaction of these groups to the conquest and the development of their relationship with the crusaders is an integral part of the subject; over time the ‘jihad’ became the key channel for Muslim opposition and peaked with Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187. Through close engagement with a rich variety of primary texts and visual imagery we evaluate how the Franks (as crusaders who settled in the Holy Land were known) lived. We consider trade and pilgrimage, as well as the tumultuous politics of the kingdom of Jerusalem, paying particular attention to the role of royal women. The major crusading expeditions of the age – the hopeless Second Crusade, the epic Third Crusade that saw Richard the Lionheart face Saladin, and the calamitous Fourth Crusade that sacked the Christian city of Constantinople, all enable us to interpret the preaching and the motives of both crusaders and Muslims, as well as assessing the aims and outcomes of each of these campaigns.

  • This module contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination, each one of these countries struggled with the challenges of modernity, development and democracy for ‘traditional’ Muslim societies. Through these case studies, students are encouraged to consider larger questions. Are Muslims somehow constitutionally incapable of democratic self-government? Is ‘development’ a real possibility or only a dream?

  • Chinese women found their voice at the dawn of the modern era. Silent no longer, their roles in society changed fundamentally, taking on a complexity never seen before in Chinese history. This module brings these women into life, examining the impact they made not at the margins, but as main actors with their own narratives. Set against the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, the module is structured in two parts. In the first term, there is an examination of the lives and impact of three powerful women: Empress Dowager Cixi; Soong Mei-ling (the wife of Chiang Kai-shek); and Jiang Qing (Madam Mao). The actions of these three figures not only shook up the existing political and social order in their country, but also had a huge impact globally. In the second term, the exploration shifts to a more thematic approach, in order to allow us to appreciate these women in historical context. The main concept that is addressed is Confucianism, and from this follows investigation of the impact of a changing China on several important sets of relationships including mother and daughter, and husband and wife. The module also addresses several roles associated with Chinese women, such as writers, revolutionaries, housewives, factory workers, and prostitutes. It uses a wide range of materials, including translated documents, filmed drama, newspapers, documentaries and biographies.

  • Sharīa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratisation in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module helps students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, by introducing them to the intellectual structure of the law and then tracing how sharīʿa has been manifested in a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the twenty-first century, including the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East and modern Britain. The module explores various areas of law, including criminal law, constitutional law, property and trusts, and slavery, but it has a particular focus on family law – marriage, divorce and child-rearing – and its impact on gender in Muslim societies. The module uses these case studies to address the fundamental question of the relationship between sharīʿa law and political power: is sharīʿa law a constraint on government, or a tool government can use? How can a Muslim government adhering to sharīʿa law legislate? Can sharīʿa law be reconciled with democratic government? The module is accessible to all: previous knowledge of Islamic or Middle Eastern history is not required.

  • This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, there was not one but two Vietnam Wars – the Vietnamese struggles against the French between 1946 and 1954 and against the Americans from 1955 to 1973. This period, moreover, witnessed nationalist and revolutionary movements in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, the East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya and Singapore, which resulted in the creation of new nation-states. Above all, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union/China was superimposed on Southeast Asians’ fight for independence. This module explores how nationalism and decolonisation in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War. While focusing on how successive American administrations got involved in the Vietnam War, the module also considers the foreign policies of other great powers, such as France, Britain and China, and the agencies of Southeast Asian states. Rather than a ‘military history’ module, its primary concern is the diplomatic and political aspects of the Vietnam conflict.

History of the Americas

  • Beginning with a brief overview of Iberia, Africa and the Americas in the late fifteenth century, this module explores how subsequent encounters between societies on both sides of the Atlantic created the complex world of colonial Latin America. This module examines the social, cultural, economic, political and religious development of Latin America from the first encounters to 1650 and emphasises the transatlantic connections between Spain, Portugal, West Africa and the Americas that resulted in the dynamic movement of people and ideas within and across the broader Iberian world. Themes covered include colonial encounters and issues of translation, religious change and local religiosity, Iberian and indigenous contributions to scientific knowledge, colonial hierarchies and inequalities, exploitation and enslavement, and strategies of resistance. Students gain not only a basic understanding of social transformations in early colonial Latin America, but also approaches to critically analysing the impact of hierarchies of gender, race and status on individuals living in colonial society

  • This module surveys the history of the United States of America from its origins as an independent nation to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. During this formative period the United States experienced rapid and dramatic demographic, territorial, and economic changes, developing from a young nation threatened by European and Native American enemies to a continental power. In charting this period of staggering growth, we explore not only the establishment of political institutions and practices, but how the growing sectional crisis over slavery led to a bloody civil war (1861-1865) that threatened to tear asunder the fledgling American republic. In telling this story, the module interrogates five core themes: Revolution, Democracy, Westward Expansion, Sections and Sectionalism, and the Crisis of the Union. These themes incorporate multiple topics, including (but by no means limited to) Native Americans, race and slavery, reform movements (including women’s rights), and the growth of American capitalism.

  • This module offers an overview of US history since 1900. It examines the social, cultural, economic and political contours of that history, incorporating topics such as westward expansion, industrialisation and urbanisation, the progressive era, the First World War, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the Cold War, domestic developments in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, developments in the 1970s and the rise of the New Right in the 1980s. The module examines the domestic and foreign policy concerns of the Clinton administration. Particular attention is devoted to Clinton’s efforts to reshape his party and his administration’s efforts to secure peace in Northern Ireland and Israel. The module also assesses the varied ways in which the War on Terror reshaped America’s foreign policy and how foreign policy concerns impacted the subsequent election. It concludes with an examination of President Obama’s successful campaign and evaluates the role that racial and religious prejudice played in his election. Particular attention is given to the shaping experiences of race, ethnicity, gender and class in the American experience.

Britain and Europe

  • The Tudors represent a compelling family drama of powerful men and women, passion and betrayal, jealous rivalries and resentments played out over three generations. The Tudor period is one of the most familiar and popular periods of British history, with the charismatic Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I featuring in countless films, TV programmes, and books. Yet beyond being good ‘box office’, the Tudors matter. This was a hugely formative period, which saw dramatic change, innovation, and exploration. During the sixteenth century, institutions were created, laws passed, and precedents set that remain at the heart of the English polity today. The Tudor period saw the beginnings of the modern state, the development of national bureaucracy and administration, the establishment of the Church of England, and the genesis of a belief in national sovereignty. Drawing on the most recent historiography, this module reconsiders familiar assessments of these most infamous of monarchs. In recent years, Henry VII has emerged less as a dour man than a tenacious and farsighted survivor who laid the foundations for the achievements of his son and grandchildren. Edward VI is now considered less a weak and sickly boy manipulated by powerful men, but a young man on the threshold of power. Mary should be considered a political pioneer, the first woman to wear the crown of England and who showed that women could rule with all the power of kings. Elizabeth was less an unimpeachable ‘Good Queen Bess’ than a reckless monarch whose refusal to marry and name a successor ultimately led to the demise of the Tudor dynasty and the accession of a Scottish king to the English throne.

  • This module explores one of the most vibrant centuries in British history. Frequently seen as an age of liberty, luxury, elegance and excess it examines the period from the accession of the Hanoverian George I to the death of George IV at the end of the ‘Regency’ period. Yet beneath this commercially successful and fashionably polite society lay fears of riot and disorder, debt, poverty and rising crime rates. Two striking results of this were campaigns for greater public decency and the expansion of laws imposing the death sentence for hundreds of criminal offences. The module asks: to what extent did the Georgian era witness the birth of modernity, consumer society, commercialised leisure and freedom of the press? Were the British a polite and commercial people, or an ungovernable rabble? How ‘bloody’ was the penal code in a period when public sentiment began to turn against hanging? In answering these and other questions, students also make use of digitised primary sources such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online and The Old Bailey Online.

  • Who were the Victorians? What did they believe in? How far were notions of vice and virtue in conflict in the Victorian period? And how are the Victorian years still relevant to us today? This module offers an overview of the dramatic political, gender, cultural and social contours of life in the British Isles during the Victorian period, so often still seen as the height of British progress and self-confidence. The module is framed between the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne in 1837 - aged just eighteen – and her death in 1901. Topics studied along the way include the role and image of the monarchy; the decline of the aristocracy; the lives of the urban and industrial working classes; race and Black lives; politics in the age of Gladstone and Disraeli; feminism and the Victorian women’s movement; marriage, morality and Victorian sexuality; democracy, citizenship and the demand for the vote from various voices; religion, science and doubt; Victorian art and visual culture; and famine, loyalism and nationalism in Victorian Ireland. This is a module that is essential for anyone wishing to understand not just the Victorians, but the nature of the world they bequeathed, and leaves students wanting to study modern British history in greater depth during their final year of study.

  • This module explores the variety of ways in which the British people experienced the dramatic, fast-moving, and often tumultuous twentieth century. From the soaring ambition of the Edwardian years to the rampant acquisition of the 1980s under Thatcher, communities across Britain were confronted with a relentless series of challenging events and phenomena, including two world wars, and state and society underwent transformative change. At the beginning of our period, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the mother state of the largest empire the world had ever seen; eighty or so years later, the empire was no more, and British home territory had been significantly reduced. Quite apart from the political status and shape of the state, moreover, British mentalities, lifestyles and standards of living were fundamentally different in the 1980s and ‘90s than they had been at the dawn of the century. This module introduces students to the story of how British communities made the remarkable journey from one world to the other.

  • The period from the French Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century witnessed extraordinary transformations in just about every area of Europeans’ lives. New ideas of democracy, nationalism, socialism and women’s rights animated successive generations of radicals and produced major revolutions such as those that shook the continent in 1848. The rapid rise of industrialisation and new technologies like the railway changed the face of European cities like Paris and Vienna, forced societies to confront problems like poverty and epidemic disease, and even altered basic conceptions of time and space. Artistic movements like romanticism and realism jostled with an emergent mass culture founded on widespread literacy, cheap books and daily newspapers. This module addresses these and other dimensions of the social and cultural history of Europe in order to ask both what drove the major changes of the nineteenth century and, just as importantly, how people responded to and made sense of them.

  • Between 1914 and 1947, Europe was in the grip of continent in what the French leader Charles de Gaulle termed a ‘Second Thirty Years War’. The First World War swept away much of the old order, triggering the collapse of the great continental empires and giving birth to a series of parliamentary regimes unstable new nation states. The October Revolution launched a radical new project that redefined the political landscape of the continent and fuelled the emergence of the radical Right. Beset by economic crises and political radicalisation liberalism and parliamentary democracy were soon in full retreat as a series of brutal regimes took power. These new states used repression but also welfare in order to construct new hierarchies of insiders and outsiders as European populations were drawn into new methods of surveillance and persecution. The module examines Italian fascism; Nazism; Stalinism; the civil war and the origins of the Franco regime in Spain; and the Holocaust in a wider continental framework context that highlights the shared experience of Europeans from Moscow to Madrid and from Brussels to Berlin. In the first half of the twentieth century, Europe was the dark continent.

  • Europe has changed more since 1945 than during any other time in history. From a rubble-strewn, war-torn continent to one of the richest, most privileged parts of the world, the transformation has been remarkable. Yet this process was neither inevitable, nor without risks and tensions. This module explores the major political developments of the second half of the twentieth century, including: the consequences of the end of the Second World War; the occupation of Germany, denazification, and the Nuremberg Trials; the postwar tensions between the superpowers which led to the onset and course of the Cold War in Europe; the communist takeover of Eastern Europe; the ‘thirty glorious years’ of economic growth, social democracy and integration in the EEC in Western Europe; decolonisation and its consequences for the European powers; the collapse of the dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece; the oil crises, the end of the ‘postwar boom’, and the rise of neoliberalism; the fall of communism and the demise of the Soviet Union; and the major postCold War events such as German unification and the wars in Yugoslavia.

Optional skills module

  • This module takes students with GCSE level Latin up to Advanced Level knowledge of the language in one year. The objective of the module is to enable students to read Latin with reasonable fluency.

Year 2 or 3

Global History

  • Ancient medicine was a very highly developed discipline, which had a holistic view of the patient, their lifestyle, occupation and diet. Key to health was a perfect balance of four humours in the human body, which corresponded to the four qualities of hot, cold, wet and dry found in food, drink and the environment. Mental and physical health problems were thought to be an imbalance in these humours or qualities - our phrase “common cold” is, for instance, a remnant of this theory. This module introduces the development of ancient medicine from Hippocrates to Galen, and its reception and development in the medieval and Islamic worlds. It also covers topics that are still being debated today, for instance FGM and gender reassignment surgery. A particular highlight is the session on illuminated herbals. The module also includes an employability session, in which we explore the job market in the field of medical humanities and other associated disciplines, and also potential postgraduate opportunities and funding.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, ideas and products across the Atlantic basin during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Through the assigned readings and discussions, we analyse the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other. The primary focus is on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analysing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Themes covered include imperial competition, migration, changing understandings of community and space because of the new encounters, the collection and circulation of botanical and medicinal knowledge, the impact of long-distance trade on daily lives and material culture, the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial forms of coercion and exploitation, and local struggles for rights.

  • This module explores the chief themes of modern political thought through its leading figures from Rousseau (c. 1750) to the present. By the mid-18th century the opulence fuelled by economic development had become increasingly central to social and political thought, and ongoing debates over progress and modernity interacted with the democratic ideals inspired by the American revolution. This in turn fuelled 20th-century debates over liberalism and socialism, the emergence of totalitarianism, the implications of imperialism and decolonisation, and the growing spectre of environmental catastrophe.

  • This module investigates the deep shifts in humanitarian ideas, practices, and organisations over the past century and a half: from imperial ‘civilising missions’, through war and post-1918 efforts to ‘organise the peace’, followed by the reassertion of humanitarian values after 1945 and the challenges of decolonisation, cold war, and then post-1990 ‘complex emergencies’. Students develop a critical understanding of humanitarianism as a changing concept and practice forged through the complex interactions of many actors and institutions in the crucible of national and international politics.

  • This module examines the occurrence of genocide from the colonial period to the present day. It deals with the development of the concept, with a particular focus on the man who coined the term ‘genocide’, the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin and the debates in the United Nations which led to the formulation and acceptance of the UN Genocide Convention in 1948. We consider too the merits of different approaches to studying genocide, including political science and anthropology as well as history. The module then proceeds by examining the following case studies: the colonisation of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. In each case, we do not simply say whether or not genocide occurred but try to understand genocide in the context of the unfolding of a dynamic of violence, usually in the context of war and massive social crisis. We then analyse different explanations for genocide, including issues of nation-building and the ‘world system’ of competing states, race-theory, gender, and social psychological explanations of aggression. The module concludes by examining the promises and problems of genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention.

  • The rise of a xenophobic, demagogic and nationalist political right is one of the most controversial phenomena in contemporary times. Is it fascist, populist or something else? How can we apply these concepts today? The Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election have also caused many to wonder whether the age of globalization and multiculturalism is now past. This module adds a scholarly dimension to such timely debates by tracing the rise of the “nationalist” far right from its early twentieth-century roots to the present day.

  • Sharīa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratisation in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module helps students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, by introducing them to the intellectual structure of the law and then tracing how sharīʿa has been manifested in a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the twenty-first century, including the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East and modern Britain. The module explores various areas of law, including criminal law, constitutional law, property and trusts, and slavery, but it has a particular focus on family law – marriage, divorce and child-rearing – and its impact on gender in Muslim societies. The module uses these case studies to address the fundamental question of the relationship between sharīʿa law and political power: is sharīʿa law a constraint on government, or a tool government can use? How can a Muslim government adhering to sharīʿa law legislate? Can sharīʿa law be reconciled with democratic government? The module is accessible to all: previous knowledge of Islamic or Middle Eastern history is not required.

  • Chinese women found their voice at the dawn of the modern era. Silent no longer, their roles in society changed fundamentally, taking on a complexity never seen before in Chinese history. This module brings these women into life, examining the impact they made not at the margins, but as main actors with their own narratives. Set against the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, the module is structured in two parts. In the first term, there is an examination of the lives and impact of three powerful women: Empress Dowager Cixi; Soong Mei-ling (the wife of Chiang Kai-shek); and Jiang Qing (Madam Mao). The actions of these three figures not only shook up the existing political and social order in their country, but also had a huge impact globally. In the second term, the exploration shifts to a more thematic approach, in order to allow us to appreciate these women in historical context. The main concept that is addressed is Confucianism, and from this follows investigation of the impact of a changing China on several important sets of relationships including mother and daughter, and husband and wife. The module also addresses several roles associated with Chinese women, such as writers, revolutionaries, housewives, factory workers, and prostitutes. It uses a wide range of materials, including translated documents, filmed drama, newspapers, documentaries and biographies.

  • This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, there was not one but two Vietnam Wars – the Vietnamese struggles against the French between 1946 and 1954 and against the Americans from 1955 to 1973. This period, moreover, witnessed nationalist and revolutionary movements in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, the East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya and Singapore, which resulted in the creation of new nation-states. Above all, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union/China was superimposed on Southeast Asians’ fight for independence. This module explores how nationalism and decolonisation in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War. While focusing on how successive American administrations got involved in the Vietnam War, the module also considers the foreign policies of other great powers, such as France, Britain and China, and the agencies of Southeast Asian states. Rather than a ‘military history’ module, its primary concern is the diplomatic and political aspects of the Vietnam conflict.

  • Popular culture now represents some of the most important mediums through which publics engage with the historical past. Films, television, music, graphic novels and videogames representing historical events, themes, and characters are often the principal arena through which audiences interpret, understand and remember the past. This is of particular importance when portraying historic wars and conflicts, as popular culture not only informs and shapes audience understandings of the events themselves, but also extends to wider related issues such as identity, nationalism, remembrance and commemoration, and even affairs of state and international relations. Consequently, the past tendency in some academic quarters to dismiss popular culture as unworthy of serious critical study is increasingly viewed as outdated, particularly with the growth of public history, and the increasing recognition by historians of popular culture’s potent ability to encode, translate, represent and reify a society’s beliefs and practices in profound ways. This module allows students to study a diverse range twentieth and twenty-first century conflicts including the First World War; Second World War; Vietnam War; Cold War; anti-colonial wars of independence; and the ‘War on Terror’, but crucially and uniquely, through the prism of popular culture and memory. The module explores the representation of historic conflict through the medium of popular culture, focusing primarily on feature films, but also engages with other modes of popular culture including television, music, graphic novels and videogames. In the process, students consider the aims, motivations, processes and challenges faced by filmmakers, artists, and other creators in attempting to construct and disseminate narrative interpretations of the past, and what these narratives can tell us about the societies in which they were produced. In addition, students investigate how these popular cultural representations of war are received by audiences, and how they go on to inform public interpretations and understandings of the past, as well as shape collective memory, and attitudes towards remembrance and commemoration.

Ancient and Medieval Worlds 

  • The Later Roman Empire module spans the four centuries that marked the end of classical antiquity and the rise of the early medieval world. The module opens with the transformation of the Roman empire under Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337), and with the conversion of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, in AD 312. Students explore the fundamental political, social and religious developments of the fourth century, which saw the emergence of a Christian Roman empire and the migration of the Goths and Huns towards the imperial frontier. We then compare the contrasting fortunes of the western and eastern regions of the empire in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the west imperial power collapsed under the waves of barbarian invasions, to be succeeded by the Germanic kingdoms of the Goths and Franks and by the rising prestige of the Roman papacy. Yet in the east the empire survived and reached a new peak during the attempted reconquest of the emperor Justinian (527-565), before triumphing in the last great conflict between the Roman and Persian empires with which this module concludes. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through an impressive combination of literary sources (read in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

  • By the middle of the seventh century, the very existence of the Byzantium (also known as the Byzantine Empire) was in question. It had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital city of Constantinople was now under direct threat. Yet the state not only weathered this period of crisis but revived and flourished so that by 1050, it was once more a major power in the region, stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why it survived, how it reversed the long series of defeats and the profound changes that took place in its military organisation, society, religious life, art and culture. It also examines how one key to its success was the way in which it interacted with the world around it, particularly with the Islamic caliphate, western Europe and the Slavonic world. Although the Byzantines frequently fought their neighbours, they preferred where possible to influence them through diplomacy and conversion. Then in the later eleventh century, new enemies appeared on the borders and Byzantium began to contract once more, a series of events that was to provide the background for the later launch of the First Crusade in 1095.

  • The bloody victory of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of Latin Christian rule in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the crusaders maintained their hold on a region which was of immense spiritual, economic and political significance to the Muslim world and the Byzantine Empire as well. The reaction of these groups to the conquest and the development of their relationship with the crusaders is an integral part of the subject; over time the ‘jihad’ became the key channel for Muslim opposition and peaked with Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187. Through close engagement with a rich variety of primary texts and visual imagery we evaluate how the Franks (as crusaders who settled in the Holy Land were known) lived. We consider trade and pilgrimage, as well as the tumultuous politics of the kingdom of Jerusalem, paying particular attention to the role of royal women. The major crusading expeditions of the age – the hopeless Second Crusade, the epic Third Crusade that saw Richard the Lionheart face Saladin, and the calamitous Fourth Crusade that sacked the Christian city of Constantinople, all enable us to interpret the preaching and the motives of both crusaders and Muslims, as well as assessing the aims and outcomes of each of these campaigns.

  • Europe underwent a ‘food revolution’ in the Middle Ages. Between c.1100 and c.1300 the production, supply, preparation and consumption of food had changed dramatically. In the early Middle Ages, the diet of even the wealthy was monotonous and based on local and seasonal supplies. By c.1400, however, courts vied to outdo each other in extravagance and pageantry, and the first celebrity chefs were even writing their own cookbooks. The revival of long-distance trade, improvements in shipping technologies and extensive contacts with new cultures from territorial expansion in the eastern Mediterranean had brought a wealth of new ingredients and new cooking methods to the tables of western Europe. The increasing prosperity of the nobility and mercantile classes, in turn, ushered in a period of conspicuous consumption that increased demand for exotic spices and new recipes. At the same time, however, the ideal of voluntary fasting and of simple eating remained a powerful spiritual inducement and an exemplar of ‘the good life’. Advocates of spiritual and bodily health urged the benefits of simplicity in cooking, and use of ‘natural’ ingredients. Moreover, the spectre of famine from failed harvests was never far away, as population increase before c.1300 put increasing pressure on agricultural resources. As in our own world, feast, fast and famine operated in precarious balance with each other. This module explores the development and expansion of Europe through food: how and why tastes changed; how new technologies and socio-economic change underpinned cultural change; and what contemporaries thought about eating and drinking.

History of Asia and the Near East

  • The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well.

  • From Constantinople to Alexandria: Eastern Mediterranean Cities, 1798-1956
  • This module contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination, each one of these countries struggled with the challenges of modernity, development and democracy for ‘traditional’ Muslim societies. Through these case studies, students are encouraged to consider larger questions. Are Muslims somehow constitutionally incapable of democratic self-government? Is ‘development’ a real possibility or only a dream?

  • Half a billion Muslim women today inhabit some 45 Muslim-majority countries, while another 30 or more countries contain significant Muslim minorities. Their histories, however, are too rarely studied. This module seeks to fill that gap, and offers students the opportunity not only to explore Muslim debates surrounding the role and status of women but also to consider more widely how Muslims - both women and men, individually and collectively – have sought to deal with the challenges faced by Muslim states and societies since c.1800.

History of the Americas

  • ‘Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin’, noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Baker’s perceptive comments strike at the very heart of contemporary historiographical debates. On the one hand, scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon that was rooted in local communities and based upon local leadership and local needs. On the other hand, scholars still emphasise the vital national leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights struggle, particularly from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to King’s 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. This module looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them, as well as addressing the central controversies and debates surrounding King’s movement leadership. The module covers topics including: desegregation of schools, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Albany and Birmingham campaigns, the March on Washington, the Sit-in Movement and tensions with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Britain and Europe

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. As Rome’s power expanded and its political system shifted towards Imperial rule, anecdotes abound as to the opulent and impressive building projects of Rome’s imperial family: thus, the emperor Augustus found Rome brick and made it marble, whilst Nero’s private palace (the Domus Aurea) engulfed most of the city of Rome. Whether true or exaggerated, such tales emphasise the importance of architecture in ancient Rome and the impact and reception of building in the negotiation and contestation of power. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values. It starts with examining how artistic commissions, prestigious public buildings and art-collecting played an important role in competition between the leading politicians of the late Roman Republic. It then moves on to explore the ways in which the ultimate winner of this rivalry, the emperor Augustus, and then his successors, used art and architecture to establish and legitimise sole power and familial succession. We consider in chronological order how images, individuals and social groups mediate and manipulate power through art and architecture.

  • Between 1553 and 1603, England faced the unprecedented situation of being ruled by two successive queens regnant, Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth. Drawing on new sources and interpretations, this module challenges commonplace arguments about their relative successes and failures. Should Mary be considered a political pioneer and England’s most overlooked monarch? Should Elizabeth’s reign not be considered more a triumph of political spin and style than significance and substance? This module urges students to reassess the traditional image of the Tudor monarchy.

  • Beginning with the Restoration of Charles II and ending in the ‘Regency’ period during the reign of George IV, this module examines how men and women’s perceptions of themselves were moulded by their families and wider society, and the extent to which their experiences were determined by gendered perceptions of sexual, racial, and class differences. Much of the module focuses on areas where criminal, ecclesiastical or civil laws shaped (or were shaped by) dominant ideas about gender differences. Among the many topics covered, it explores aspects of male and female sexuality, experiences of marriage and separation, of family life and adolescence; gendered concepts of sin, crime, and juvenile delinquency; the pleasures and perils of new forms of shopping, fashion and entertainment, and the working lives of businesswomen, actresses, prostitutes and male-midwives. Students have the opportunity to engage with a wide range of printed and digital primary sources and learn to present their work through a variety of mediums to academic and wider public audiences.

  • This module explores how the French sought both to describe and transform their society in the turbulent century following 1789, through the lens of innovative works of literature, political thought, art and the social sciences, all studied in translation. The upheaval of the French Revolution and dreams of radical transformation led in turn to socialist utopias, ‘realist’ novels and modern sociology, and to fears of national decline and fantasies of cleansing violence which haunted French society in the years preceding the Great War.

  • This module offers a cultural and imaginative engagement with the ideas and realities of British Imperialism in the past, the present and indeed the future. Students use books, visual and material cultures, fiction, film and radio to explore the ways in which the British Empire has been imagined, understood and remembered from the eighteenth century to the present. The module is split into three main sections, the first looking at the way Empire was imagined and presented at the time of its existence, the second exploring the recent ‘nostalgia boom’ surrounding Empire in the present and the ways in which the imperial past is mobilised in modern debates (surrounding, for example, Brexit), and the third looking at how imperial tropes and understandings have informed science fiction re-imaginings of the past through telling stories about the future. A mixture of traditional and innovative assessments (including source commentaries, blog posts and podcasts) push students to think both analytically and creatively about the role of the past in the present and the future. Students emerge with a highly developed ability to analyse and critique primary and secondary evidence, as well as having gained employability skills relating to independent research, oral and visual presentation, and creative industries. The module presents an exciting opportunity to engage with the cultural history of the British Empire, as well as creative approaches to learning, assessment and employability.

  • In recent years, media images of refugees crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats have been ever-present. But the movement of peoples around this body of water is far from a recent phenomenon. In this module, we explore the reasons why people choose or are forced to leave their homes; how they experience the crossing of borders; and how governments have sought to manage the flow of people; tracing patterns of migration and mobility around the Mediterranean Sea from the nineteenth century to today.

  • The Victorians were both fascinated and repelled by their rapidly growing capital city, often at the same time. For the American writer Henry James, London was not only ‘magnificent’, but also a ‘brutal’ city which had “gathered together so many of the darkest sides of life”. This module aims to take students on a stroll through the streets of ‘Victorian Babylon’ as well as inside its homes, workplaces and municipal and reformatory buildings. The module enables students to navigate its extremes of imperial and consumerist splendour, and crushing poverty. We begin with the people that shaped Victorian London – reformers, radicals, religious groups and immigrants. The module then negotiates the landscapes of the capital – the West and East Ends, suburbia and parks and cemeteries. We take a look inside some of the new civic and disciplinary spaces that shaped Victorian social and cultural life – courts, prisons, asylums and schools. Finally, we focus on the growing material world of ‘Victorian things’ – exploring the new culture of spectacle and display that emerged in the metropolis. A particular methodological focus is on introducing students to exciting new ways of studying the urban experience, and understanding the built environment, by making use of the rich material culture of Victorian London. The module includes at least four site-specific seminars where students analyse surviving objects and environments at first hand.

  • The module examines the intellectual and cultural history of Russia in the turbulent years from the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s to the 1917 Revolution. During this period, Russian society experienced industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation and the erosion of traditional values and social distinctions. The spread of literacy, the rise of popular culture, and mass politics all contrived to change the nature and the values of Russian society. In the absence of any established system of political freedom until the 1905 Revolution, Russian literature was a barometer of popular sentiment and a forum in which the great moral and political issues of the day were debated. The tension between reformism and revolution dominated the period. For many, the obduracy of the autocracy precluded the possibility of seeking a gradual reform of the state. Others struggled to reform the Empire whilst staving off violent revolution. The 1905 Revolution was a seminal moment in Russian history in this period. It heralded the explosion of mass movements onto the political stage confirmed for many observers their worst fears of the anarchy and violence that would accompany social revolution. The emphasis throughout is on the dynamism of Russia in this period as all sections of society struggled to cope with change on an enormous scale at dizzying speeds.

  • From ‘Downton Abbey’ to ‘Call the Midwife’, we might think we know the history of women’s lives in twentiethcentury Britain. Take the 1920s: the slender flapper, cigarette-holder in hand and off to cocktails or a night at the flicks, epitomised the surface glamour of modernity. Possessed of an office job and a vote, she also boasted a swimsuit, sex appeal, and a voguish knowledge of Freud. But was her world really one without limits? This module explores the experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, political, economic and cultural transformation. We determine the constraints on, and advantages gained by, women in relation to education and paid work, citizenship and feminism, war and peace, migration and immigration, and sexuality and family life, among other themes. We look at the places and spaces that shaped women’s experiences, from the home to the workplace and beyond, as well as tracing the ways that family, community and the media all moulded ideas of what it was to be ‘feminine’. Along with gender roles and expectations, we consider how social class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality and location all played their parts in shaping women’s experiences and their hopes for their futures. Drawing on wide-ranging historical scholarship, as well as primary sources including film, autobiography, photography and oral history, we plot the changes in British women’s lives and ask what continuities there are between women’s lives today and the experiences of their mothers and grandmothers.

  • In the first five decades of the twentieth century, the lands of East Central Europe experienced a violent transformation, perhaps unlike any other the world had ever seen. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires collapsed during the war decade of 1912-1923, giving way to fragile nation-states marred by a multitude of problems throughout the interwar period. This module dissects the causes of imperial collapse and highlights its deep-felt consequences for the successor states of Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It explains how multi-ethnic coexistence gave way to conflict, how democracy waltzed with authoritarianism and how eventually these former borderlands turned into the bloodlands of the Second World War. Using a wide range of sources, (including texts, images, comics, and music), the module examines in turn: multiethnic coexistence in the imperial lands; the unmixing of people during the First World War; majorities and minorities in the interwar period; the introduction of liberal democracy and the growing appeal of fascism, communism and authoritarianism; and, finally, the mass atrocities committed by erstwhile neighbours during the Second World War. Throughout this tumultuous period, East Central Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, but came to be nostalgically remembered as a mosaic of ethnicities. The premise of this module is therefore simple: we cannot understand the dynamics of the modern world without understanding the story of East Central Europe in the early twentieth century.

  • The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which, as its recent centenary highlighted, continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. More than 1,000,000 British subjects lost their lives as a result of military service during the conflict, and many more were physically or psychologically traumatised. The destructive force of industrialised warfare led to a very direct civilian encounter with mass death, and families and communities across the United Kingdom suffered unprecedented levels of bereavement. While the rupture between the pre- and post-war worlds should not be overstated, the cultural, social, political and economic landscape of the UK was radically altered by the experience of the conflict. To put it mildly, then, the impact of the First World War on British society was profound and long-lasting, and the conflict retains considerable cultural resonance in twenty-first century Britain. This module explores the British experience of the war and look at the ways in which the conflict has been interpreted and remembered in Britain in the century since it ended.

  • In 1866, the first concrete steps towards a modern, federalised German state were made when the North German Confederation Treaty was signed. Almost a hundred years later, in 1955, the fourth incarnation of the German state since its initial unification under Bismarck in 1871 regained its independence. However, this was not simply a reversion to a previous system. Not only had West Germany ‘arrived’ in the West, adopted a democratic constitution and subscribed to a human rights consensus. A few days after regaining its independence from the Allied occupation forces, West Germany had joined NATO. By 1958, it had cosigned the Treaty of Rome, entering a process of European integration. Still, it also remained a divided country, displaying the scars of the breakdown of empire, the failure of the first German democratic system and a dictatorship that culminated in a war of extermination and genocide. This module gives students an in-depth insight into this history, from the process of unification in the second half of the nineteenth century to the co-existence of two Germanies in the middle of the twentieth century. Yet this is not simply a module in high politics. Instead, the focus lies on the detection and analysis of multiple ‘Germanies’, shaped by its people, their thoughts, concerns and emotions, their artistic production and scientific discoveries, and their ordinary lives. Using a broad selection of primary sources – from political tracts and pamphlets to ego-documents, official data sets and artistic output such as novels, images or music – the module poses the question whether and how our understanding of Germany changes when we shift our perspective to underrepresented groups, from women to Jews to colonial subjects, and finally to those Germans who recreated (exile) communities abroad.

  • ‘There is no English history without that other history’ – historian, philosopher and critical race theorist, Stuart Hall explained that this ‘other history’ is the “outside history that is inside the history of the English”. Migration – the ‘other’, ‘inside’, and ‘outside’ history is the story of how Britain came to be. This module spans over four centuries and uncovers how the migration of Black and South Asian people, groups, and communities has changed and shaped Britain. It considers the lived experiences of Black and South Asian lives. The module begins by mapping early presences in Britain, from the Roman Empire to Tudor England, to thinking about new domestic economies in the eighteenth century. We then consider the transatlantic slave trade, how empire was experienced ‘at home’, the world wars, and the Windrush Generation. Throughout, we explore how efforts to categorise ‘Britishness’ were made and unmade in legislation, and how modalities of ethnic identity relating to gender, class and nation were formed. By using unique case studies to interrogate Black and South Asian British histories we think about efforts to decolonise Britain’s past and its relationship with current immigration policies. By unpicking the ‘other history’ of Britain’s Black and South Asian citizens, the module investigates how these histories are ‘inside’ the fabric of British history, of what it means to be British and ‘Britishness’. By encountering activists, intellectuals, and new forms of racism across several decades, the module foregrounds ‘English’ or else British history as one of migration, growth and change through a variety of source materials, such as newspapers, letters, material culture, press reports and more.

Year 3

Global History

  • Explorers and Inventors in Classical and Late Antiquity
  • Genocide is far from being an exceptional or infrequent event: by some counts, there have been over 50 genocides since 1945. This module seeks to understand the common roots of this recurrent phenomenon by making connections between a range of very different case studies, from colonial genocides in North America and Australia through to more recent cases in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. We examine the causes of these genocides – from international and domestic factors, through to the reasons individuals chose to kill – and debate the role that ideology, war, competition for resources, and the nation-state system played in each, as well as engaging with issues of victimhood, loss, and living together again in the aftermath. These case studies and themes are explored in relation to developments in the historiography of genocide and anchored in a wide range of primary documentation – from perpetrator accounts, trial transcripts and victim testimony, through to photographs, forensic evidence and mapping technologies.

  • ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him’ (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882). This module offers students an opportunity to engage with leading modern thinkers – including Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud – as they confronted fundamental questions of human existence regarding God, religious belief, science and history. The module concludes at the beginning of the 20th century with the founders of modern sociology (Durkheim and Weber) and psychology (Freud) and their radical new ideas about the role of religions and their apparent decline.

  • This module examines the development of atomic weaponry and its effects on Western society during the 20th century. The A- and H-Bombs are arguably the most influential technological developments of the last century, affecting geopolitics, military strategy, and the shape of post-1945 society, as well as granting to a few the ability to render the Earth uninhabitable. This had a profound effect on politics and society, not only for the leading western states but globally with arms proliferation and the spread of atomic power.

  • This module explores the emergence and subsequent career of international ‘development’ from the late colonial period to the present. It seeks to understand how so many politicians, scientists and ordinary people around the world - in the rich North as much as in the global South - became enthralled to the idea that a concerted and theoryguided push for improvement could equalise living standards and life chances around the world. Not only did this dream survive several rapid changes in direction – from big projects to ‘small is beautiful’, from macro-economic planning to ‘human needs’ - it also proved remarkably resilient to evidence of failure on the ground. When seen from a historical perspective, many policy interventions in the name of ‘development’ did not turn out as expected. Most failed according to the terms they were set up for, and unintended consequences ranged from good to bad. Through an analysis of key intellectual trends in development thought and case studies of landmark development projects from around the world, this module encourages a critical understanding of the desire ‘to develop’ the Global South, and to understand its evolution within the context of geo-political interests, economic globalisation and the sometime self-servicing agenda of the international ‘aid industry’. Reflecting its learning outcomes, this module uses a different assessment model to some other Special Subjects: there is no final exam, but an emphasis on written coursework and oral presentation to be delivered in a variety of contexts throughout the year.

  • This module examines the ups and downs in American-Chinese relations during the Cold War. It examines how and why the United States and Communist China transformed their relationship, from hostile enemies in the 1950s and much of the 1960s to tacit allies by the 1970s. Events and issues covered include the direct and indirect confrontations between America and China over Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam; the roles of the Soviet Union, Britain and Japan in their changing relationships; and their divergent views on such issues as Third World revolutions, nuclear weapons and international trade. Thematically, the module considers how ideology, personality, domestic considerations, cultural stereotypes and alliance politics influenced the foreign policies of Washington and Beijing and the dynamics of Sino-American interactions. Students are expected to approach the subject not only from the American perspective but also from the Chinese viewpoint, by exploring both Western and (translated) Chinese primary sources, such as diplomatic documents, memoirs, public speeches and political cartoons. By placing Sino-American relations in the wider international and domestic contexts, this module shows how the two great powers were shaped by, and helped shape, the global Cold War. It provides valuable historical lessons for managing Sino-American relations in the twenty-first century

  • Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the modern world since 1945. It has been employed across a range of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. This module examines the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence, and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society down to the present day.

  • This module examines the history of Chinese migration in both an internal and external context, engages with the issue of frontiers, and understands the long-term impact of historic migration on China’s situation that is still resonant today. It explores how Chinese human mobility responded to and reflected changes in politics, economics, and culture during the period, and how the lives of Chinese migrants in foreign countries reflected China’s foreign relationships. The focus on frontiers brings in a geopolitical dimension and provides a broader context in which to examine not only China’s interactions with other nations in the process of globalisation, but also how this in turn impacted the course of Chinese migration. This module provides an in-depth study of the relevant issues by tracing the steps of migrants from 1800 to the 1960s across broad geographical boundaries, from Northern China to Taiwan and Hong Kong, and from China to United States and United Kingdom, impacted by key policies of the administrations from Qing imperial government through to the Communist era. Students who have already completed a previous Chinese history module are particularly encouraged to take this module as it not only provides a new level of challenge, but also goes deeper into topics previously explored. The module provides a wide range of dissertation topics, supported by is a large body of source material in English, accessible both online and within the London area.

  • The module provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of South Asia as the subcontinent made its transition from colonial rule to independence during the first half of the twentieth century. By exploring the historical context of a pivotal moment, namely the partitioning of the subcontinent that accompanied independence in 1947, students explore the complex processes involved in both the rise of anti-imperial nationalist movements and the decline of (British) imperial power. The eventual transfer of power, albeit to two separate states - India and Pakistan - represents one of the first instances of decolonisation in the British Empire, and this proved to be a fraught and violent process with long-lasting repercussions for both South Asia as a region and wider global history. Hence, the module merges political history with social, cultural and religious history - it looks at change and continuity from a top-down perspective as well as interrogating it from below. This approach allows students to understand the high-level political negotiations that produced independence as well as to engage with the lived and often painful personal experiences of partition. Major themes include the rise of non-violent and violent Indian anti-colonial movements; ethnic and religious representation in Indian politics; British imperial strategies; the relationship between religion and nationalism; the impact of the world wars; migration and Partition violence (that was often gendered); and the challenges that both states faced when it came to creating new citizens.

  • Humans have always used mind-altering substances as medicines, for spiritual purposes, to assist them in work, and for fun. Drug use was transformed during the modern ‘psychoactive revolution’ by a series of interconnected developments. First, the expansion of global trade during the early modern period brought drugs to new markets: coffee from Yemen and Africa was introduced to the eastern Mediterranean and Europe; tobacco and coca moved from the Americas to the old world; opium from Asia to Europe. Second, capitalism led to the aggressive marketing of drugs as consumer products, such as the cigarette, which in many cases magnified the drug’s harms. Third, modern science created new and more powerful drugs, by isolating the active ingredients of plants and then by creating semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs. Lastly, the real and perceived problems caused by drug use led to demands for legal controls in many societies, and ultimately to the global system of prohibition of some – but not all – drugs based in international treaties that was founded 100 years ago.

  • Stories are everywhere, and the human mind is wired to love them. And one of the jobs of historians is to tell stories - the stories of the past. Historians also have other tasks - evaluating evidence, making responsible arguments, and weighing the ethical issues involved in giving voice to some figures from the past rather than others simply because chance - or the interests of the historical 'winners' - led to one source being preserved, while another was lost, forgotten, or destroyed. This module explores the critical questions and techniques of narrative analysis, considering the problems and pitfalls faced by historians, novelists and dramatists in their effort to bring the past alive. We will explore case studies drawn from history, fiction, and film representing the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds, and the issues we raise will be relevant to students whose interests lie in any period.

Ancient and Medieval Worlds 

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. As Rome’s power expanded and its political system shifted towards Imperial rule, anecdotes abound as to the opulent and impressive building projects of Rome’s imperial family: thus, the emperor Augustus found Rome brick and made it marble, whilst Nero’s private palace (the Domus Aurea) engulfed most of the city of Rome. Whether true or exaggerated, such tales emphasise the importance of architecture in ancient Rome and the impact and reception of building in the negotiation and contestation of power. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values. It starts with examining how artistic commissions, prestigious public buildings and art-collecting played an important role in competition between the leading politicians of the late Roman Republic. It then moves on to explore the ways in which the ultimate winner of this rivalry, the emperor Augustus, and then his successors, used art and architecture to establish and legitimise sole power and familial succession. We consider in chronological order how images, individuals and social groups mediate and manipulate power through art and architecture.

  • This module covers the crucial transitional period in which Christianity came to dominate the Mediterranean world, from the accession of the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine in 306 to the death of Augustine of Hippo in 430. The fundamental political, social and religious changes that took root during these dramatic years, which also witnessed the early Germanic invasions into the Roman empire, are brought to life by a broad spectrum of translated literary texts and material culture. Students engage with a wide selection of influential writers: Eusebius of Caesarea (Constantine’s biographer), the last pagan emperor Julian ‘the Apostate’, the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, the orator and teacher Libanius, and the Church fathers Jerome (with his ascetic circle of female students) and Augustine (author of the Confessions and City of God). We also examine other forms of evidence: the laws of the Theodosian Code, the inscriptions left by the Roman senatorial aristocracy, and an array of surviving examples of Late Roman art and architecture. The scope and diversity of these sources reflect the transformations of the period itself and offer dissertation opportunities for students with interests ranging from religious and political history to gender studies or the Roman empire’s ‘Decline and Fall’.

  • Ancient medicine was a very highly developed discipline, which had a holistic view of the patient, their lifestyle, occupation and diet. Key to health was a perfect balance of four humours in the human body, which corresponded to the four qualities of hot, cold, wet and dry found in food, drink and the environment. Mental and physical health problems were thought to be an imbalance in these humours or qualities - our phrase “common cold” is, for instance, a remnant of this theory. This module introduces the development of ancient medicine from Hippocrates to Galen, and its reception and development in the medieval and Islamic worlds. It also covers topics that are still being debated today, for instance FGM and gender reassignment surgery. A particular highlight is the session on illuminated herbals. The module also includes an employability session, in which we explore the job market in the field of medical humanities and other associated disciplines, and also potential postgraduate opportunities and funding.

  • The century from about 1050 to 1150 was one of profound upheaval and dynamic change in Europe. Old states were strengthened, and new ones founded under increasingly centralised power; demographic growth resulted in the expansion of towns and new rural settlements, while relative peace brought by strong government resulted in unparalleled opportunities for the emergence of new cultural forms. At the centre of all these changes was the Church, both as an institution and as the director of Christian life, and at the heart of the Christian life lay monasticism. From its beginning in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, monasticism had always represented the striving toward human perfection. But by c.1050, many Europeans found the contemporary forms of religious life far from perfect. The needs of society had made monasteries not only refuges from the world but vital components in the operations of that world. Monasteries were part of the system of land ownership, and thus of local power. But they differed from other political agencies in one respect: they were also mediators of divine power. A ‘revolution’ in religious life occurred between c.1080 and 1150 because many came to understand these two functions as incompatible. But how religious life should be led – through personal austerity or in strictly regulated communities, in poverty or in comfort, with sexes mixed or kept apart – became a battleground among reformers. We look at the varied hopes and ideals of reformers, and the lengths to which they went to realise them.

  • In October 1187 Saladin, the Muslim ruler of the Near East, captured Jerusalem for Islam. This crushing blow to the people of Western Christendom triggered the Third Crusade. Over the next five years the most prestigious monarchs and nobles of the day strove to regain the holy city. These campaigns claimed the life of Emperor Frederick I of Germany, tarnished the reputation of King Philip of France, and set in opposition the two iconic figures of the crusading age, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. This module assesses the motives and actions of the crusaders taking in a broad spectrum that encompasses preaching, recruitment, finance, logistics, diplomacy and travel, as well as the progress and outcome of the campaign in the Holy Land. It also includes a detailed understanding of Saladin’s response to the crusade. The final weeks of the module look at the memory and legacy of this campaign down the centuries. Saladin stands as an iconic figure in the history of the Near East as the man who defeated the crusaders, while in the West he moved from being ‘the son of Satan’ to a man admired for his chivalric virtues and dashing charm.

  • The capture of the capital of the Byzantine empire (also known as Byzantium) by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1451-1481) on 29 May 1453, was one of the pivotal events of the later Middle Ages. The module opens with a survey of the background: the decline of Byzantium, the rise of the Ottoman Turks and importance of the Italian maritime republics of Genoa and Venice. It then turns to the unsuccessful Ottoman attack on Constantinople in 1422, the subsequent Byzantine bid to secure western military aid at the Council of Ferrara/Florence, the disastrous crusade of Varna of 1443-4 and the lead-up to the final Ottoman attack. We make a detailed examination of the many contemporary accounts of the siege and consider their evidence as to why Mehmed II succeeded where so many others had failed in the past. Particular attention is paid to how eyewitnesses explained the disaster, and how they balanced metaphysical reasons such as the judgment of God and the wheel of fortune with practical ones, such as human weakness, the role of heavy cannon and a desire to blame anyone whom they disliked. Finally, the aftermath of the fall of Constantinople is examined: the call for a crusade to retake the city and the efforts of Pope Pius II to orchestrate a united response to the Turkish victory.

History of the Americas

  • The American Civil War was the defining moment in the history of the United States. The American populace, north and south, white and black, found themselves grappling with two issues – what would be the nature of the political union that formed the backbone of the American nation state, and what would be the status of African Americans within that nation. Ostensibly, these matters were resolved as the bloody conflict resulted in the abolition of slavery and the settling of political debates about the relationship between states and the federal government. But were these contentious issues of politics and race truly resolved? America’s post-Civil War history certainly suggests not. Moreover, a cursory glance at modern America points to a continued schismatic discourse about the power of the federal government and the issue of race. Put simply, if one is to understand the nation’s more recent history and politics they must get to grips with the Civil War, the crucible in which the modern American nation was forged. This module takes a chronological approach to the period from 1848 to 1877. Starting with the sectional divisions over slavery in the 1850s and ending with the tumultuous conclusion of the Reconstruction period, this module explores the key causes, consequences, events, personalities, interpretations and legacies of the American Civil War. It approaches these important questions and themes from a range of historical standpoints, including military, social, political and cultural perspectives.

  • This module provides a detailed and intensive overview of the history of African American Islam. It focuses primarily on the development of three African American Muslim communities in the twentieth century including the Nation of Islam and the Imam W.D. Mohammed community. The module examines the formative years of the Nation of Islam, the Islamic themes in Elijah Muhammad’s leadership and the efforts that other Muslim communities made to challenge his legitimacy as a Muslim leader. The module focuses largely on Elijah Muhammad’s national minister, Malcolm X. It examines Malcolm’s conversion, ministry, politics and debates surrounding his assassination. The module assesses the NOI’s continued growth after 1965 and the splintering of the community in 1975 into orthodox and unorthodox factions. The module examines the rise of Malcolmology in the 1990s and popular culture. The module also introduces students to recent studies that explore the work of women in the original NOI and the organisation’s relationship with Muslim communities in and beyond the US. The second half of the module focuses on the resurrected NOI. Topics within this half of the module include a detailed examination of the Million Man March in 1995, Louis Farrakhan’s leadership, racial politics, the Justice or Else March and the NOI’s work with Black Lives Matter, and interfaith outreach.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, ideas and products across the Atlantic basin during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Through the assigned readings and discussions, we analyse the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other. The primary focus is on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analysing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Themes covered include imperial competition, migration, changing understandings of community and space because of the new encounters, the collection and circulation of botanical and medicinal knowledge, the impact of long-distance trade on daily lives and material culture, the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial forms of coercion and exploitation, and local struggles for rights.

Britain and Europe

  • “At last I can live like a human being!” Throughout Roman literature, stories such as Emperor Nero’s celebration of his vast Golden House in Rome abound, and reveal how the domestic sphere was used to construct notions of belonging and status in the Roman world. Students will compare textual sources like the letters of Cicero and Pliny the Younger with archaeological remains from Rome, Pompeii and beyond, bringing to life the sounds, smells and sights of Roman domestic space in all their multisensory complexity.

  • From Henry VII to Charles II, this module explores how the English monarchy represented its authority and power in the midst of the great political and religious changes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing on a wide range of textual and material sources, students explore how different rulers sought to sustain and enhance their authority through how they represented themselves, and consider how the success or failure of royal image influenced the dramatic events of the English Reformation, Civil War and Restoration.

     

  • Belief was a powerful force in early modern societies. In this deeply religious age, the European Reformations unleashed divisive and contested debates about what true, orthodox belief constituted, such that people were even willing to die for it. Yet this was also a world imbued with belief in the superstitious and the supernatural, a world of witches, demons and angels. This module focuses on how the often-multifaceted aspects of belief shaped the lives and social relationships of ordinary women and men. We consider how different social groups, especially those, like women or peasants, whose voices for a long time were marginalised from mainstream historical accounts, responded to changes in religious belief enacted by the Reformations and how this could inspire or restrict them. In addition to our main focus on Europe including the British Isles, we also consider confrontations of Christian with non-Christian beliefs in the global context of a colonising, missionary age. Throughout the module, we think about where the boundaries lay between the true and the false, the miraculous and the deceptive, the rational and the irrational. You read miracle accounts, witchcraft trials and Devil Books and have the opportunity to turn the pages of some of the College’s collection of sixteenth-century printed books.

  • ‘At the height of the imperial age church people liked to argue that religion and the British empire were inseparable – that the visible, commercial and political empire was woven into the fabric of another, invisible country – a spiritual empire.’ [Hilary M. Carey, Empires of Religion]. This module critically interrogates that assertion, asking and answering the question of how far empire was interested in the spiritual mission, and how far missionaries can be considered agents of imperialism. In so doing it interacts with issues of how we define imperialism, how useful the idea of cultural imperialism can be to the modern historian, and how we might talk meaningfully about ‘the colonising project’. Students are introduced to the history of British cultural engagement and encounter with indigenous peoples within and outside of the empire; analyse and discuss the socio-economic, cultural and religious impact of Christian mission in the ‘age of expansion’; and tease out issues of cultural encounters, indigenous agency and resistance, race, racism and cultural chauvinism, and the impact of mission literature and experience on the British public’s own imaginative engagement with nonwestern peoples. Students emerge with a complex understanding of colonialism, in all its variegated forms, and how it has shaped (and continues to shape) the modern world.

  • In the 1850s photography was established in Britain – and altered how Britons saw themselves forever. This module looks at the relationship between images, society and culture, from the arrival of the camera to cinema and early TV. From the work of art photographers Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron to camerawielding asylum doctors and ‘spirit photographers’ who believed they could portray the dead, photography became a core part of Victorian culture. Photography transformed understandings of place – and changed the way the British saw the Empire. The novelty of the photographic technologies, like the stereograph, often fascinated and delighted. We also look at the role of photography in everyday life – from the staid Victorian family portrait to contemporary scandals over pornography. Term two focuses on watching and reading films – and how this new medium represented twentieth-century Britain. Class, race and gender were reconfigured on the silver screen. We explore the growth of film culture in the 1930s, the impact of the Second World War on film and Postwar British film culture including 1940s costume drama and New Wave Cinema in the 1960s. We finish with the arrival of early TV and a Coronation Street case-study. Students look at a wide range of visual sources including newly digitised collections of photography (e.g. The Wellcome, Imperial War Museum, Frith Collections) and independent research is strongly encouraged. Each term begins with an ‘orientation’ session Introducing methods and techniques for film and image interpretation.

  • This module examines critical engagement with commercial and industrial society in Britain during the long nineteenth century. Waste, competition, selfishness, vice and urban poverty were seen as concomitant to the advance of commercial society, and as the 19th century’s first industrialised nation, Britain offered radical and socialist as well as conservative critiques of these developments. Arguments ranged from alternative visions of modernity to returning to a more idyllic past, and set the background for the modern environmental movement emerging in the later 20th century.

  • Inverts, deviants, androgynes, tribades, sodomites, pansies, sapphists, sissies, tomboys, brown hatters, dykes, perverts: queers. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Britain these, and many other such terms, have been employed to identify and codify queer sexual practices and identities. Beginning with the emergence of homosexuality as a defined modern identity in the late nineteenth century, this module goes on to explore how queer identities were constructed and contested, described and debated in both mainstream culture and in the queer subcultures that emerged and took shape, laying the foundations for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identities as we understand them today. We consider how queerness captured the fascination of the medical profession, the legal system, the media and the general public. Moreover, we investigate the interaction between these dominant discourses and queer people themselves, examining how queer people lived and loved in times of turbulence, from the interventions of sexologists to criminalisation, to same-sex desire in times of war, to the creation of modern queer communities. Along the way we also ask questions about how to research queer history. This module is multi-disciplinary, engaging with a diverse range of primary source material (including textual and audio-visual) and in particular makes use of oral history sources as a way of accessing the lived experience of queer people.

  • In 1914 the French poet Charles Peguy wrote that the world had changed more since he started going to school in the 1880s than during the previous two millennia. Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, the rise of mass politics and the decline of the established religions all ensured Europe was in a state of political and social flux during the fin de siècle. Established hierarchies and authorities - the patriarchal authority of the father, the sovereignty of emperors, kings and parliaments, the self-confident economic rule of the bourgeoisie, the spiritual leadership of the European churches - were being challenged by the rise of new ideologies of liberation: secularism, occultism, nationalism, anarchism, socialism, feminism. The module adopts a thematic approach to explore a range of topics through which Europeans endeavoured to make sense of, and navigate a path through, this changing world. Visions of change were shot through with ambivalence. Optimism about the creative powers of the market and faith in technological, material and political progress were undercut with darker apprehensions of disorder, decline, and decay. Politicians, journalists, artists, scientists and writers fiercely debated ideas of race, class and gender and wove a richly varied imaginative tapestry that reflected on the unstable world around them. Their conflicting prescriptions for political, social and moral reconstruction showed that the very shape of the modern world was ‘up for grabs’.

  • Europe, as an “ideal” and imagined landscape, is a very old concept. What often impressed past observers was the deep richness and brightness of European cultures, their diversity and yet also their many common values. This module explores the journey towards the European Union, how this united Europe was built, and especially how it has been perceived by political movements, politicians, and scholars both in previous decades and in the present, offering students a better understanding of the world in which we live today.

  • For too long, the history of the Holocaust has been dominated by perpetrator-led studies that advance its unfolding through the lens provided by the political scientist, Raul Hilberg, in his still-influential book The Destruction of the European Jews (1961). Hilberg’s paradigmatic model, built on long consultation with Nazi documents presented at the Nuremberg trial of 1945-46, suggested that the ‘Final Solution’ (the Nazi euphemism for destruction) unfolded over four stages: identification, expropriation, concentration and annihilation. This model continues to sustain scholarship though it completely neglected the victims’ perspectives. ‘The Holocaust Witness’ is a counter to the narrative limitations of that model. This interdisciplinary module advances a witness-centred history of the Holocaust through examining case studies of emigration, insurgencies in ghettos, cultural resistance, the difficult rebuilding of life and communities in the postwar period, and the impact of digital technologies on mediations of survivor-hood. It takes students through the emergence of the Holocaust witness as a cultural and juridical category in the twentieth century via a range of first person, collective and curated, testimonial, visual and oral documents.

  • This module provides students with a deep understanding of the genocide of the European Jews during World War II, the events commonly known as 'the Holocaust'. Students will explore the evolution of Nazi ideology, the creation of ghettos and death camps, and how the murder of the Jews was carried out across Europe. The evidence for collaboration and resistance will be examined, as will the liberation of the camps, the early collection of postwar testimonies, and the competing attempts to explain the Holocaust in history.

  • ‘Going out on the town’ is a centuries-old means of having a good time. This module explores the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of urban leisure in twentieth-century Britain. Taking in both the interconnected realms of daytime and night-time recreation, we consider the ways that popular culture both shaped and reflected how individuals and communities (re)created, imagined and lived out their identities. Here, social class, gender, sexuality, race, age and nationality are all of central importance. We consider how popular culture help generate a sense of self through looking at case-studies ranging from Edwardian music hall patrons to 1970s punks. We reimagine the spaces and places of urban leisure, from music halls to cinemas, via a host of venues including pubs, cocktail bars, dance halls, youth clubs and nightclubs, noting how going out to dance, sing, talk, watch, shop, eat, drink and get high all offered myriad ways of enjoying everyday life, as well the means of escaping from it. Our key conceptual themes also include: time and leisure; spaces of leisure; the impact of technologies; the role of the state; the impact of war; and the influence of imperialisation, Americanisation and globalisation. Alongside engaging secondary literatures, this module uses an illuminating range of primary sources, including: visual sources such as photographs and films; audio sources including oral histories and songs; and textual sources such as social surveys, autobiographies and novels. Together with rich archival collections (nearby in London and across the country), these sources offer students exciting opportunities for dissertation research, with possible themes ranging from interwar cinema to 1990s club culture and much more besides. If going out matters to you, come and discover its history and appreciate how popular culture helps us to understand who we once were and who we have become today.

  • ‘What a superb woman she is, right and beautiful!’ Margaret Thatcher, eulogised here by the poet Phillip Larkin, was Britain’s first female Prime Minister, residing in 10 Downing Street (between 1979 and 1990) for longer than any other politician in twentieth-century Britain, and the first party leader since Lord Palmerston to win three successive general elections. Arguably, she was the first political leader since William Gladstone to give her name to a political ‘ideology’. But what exactly was Thatcherism, and why does Margaret Thatcher remain such a deeply controversial figure, so politically and culturally relevant to contemporary society? This module evaluates how far Thatcherism succeeded in its objectives, especially when measured against Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society’. Students who take this module have the opportunity to study the origins, the controversies, and the impact of the turbulent Thatcher years. Module content focuses on exploring the interactions between the political, cultural and personal histories of Britain from 1970 through to 2000. Party politics form an important part of the module - the Heath administration of 1970-4; Labour in power and in opposition; the economic ‘revolutions’ of Thatcherism; the challenge of the SDP; and the rise of New Labour under a youthful Tony Blair. You explore the multiple points of ‘crisis’ for the British state - the Winter of Discontent of 1978-9; the race riots of the early 1980s; the impact of the Falklands War; the AIDS pandemic; the Miners’ Strike of 1984; the challenges of Scottish and Welsh nationalisms; and the intractable Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’. You also explore the exciting wider cultural contexts of this period, for instance through popular music; the Greenham Common women’s protests; and the impact of immigration upon both existing and new minority communities. The module also explores Britain’s broader place in the wider world - Thatcherism and the Soviet Union / Cold War and, perhaps inevitably, Britain’s troubled relationship with continental Europe including entry into the EEC in 1973, the 1975 Referendum, and the rise of Euro-scepticism. The module exposes you to a wide and ever-growing array of primary sources - written, visual and oral - as it seeks to make sense of the Thatcher era both in its own terms and in historical memory.

  • Beginning with the Restoration of Charles II and ending in the ‘Regency’ period during the reign of George IV, this module examines how men and women’s perceptions of themselves were moulded by their families and wider society, and the extent to which their experiences were determined by gendered perceptions of sexual, racial, and class differences. Much of the module focuses on areas where criminal, ecclesiastical or civil laws shaped (or were shaped by) dominant ideas about gender differences. Among the many topics covered, it explores aspects of male and female sexuality, experiences of marriage and separation, of family life and adolescence; gendered concepts of sin, crime, and juvenile delinquency; the pleasures and perils of new forms of shopping, fashion and entertainment, and the working lives of businesswomen, actresses, prostitutes and male-midwives. Students have the opportunity to engage with a wide range of printed and digital primary sources and learn to present their work through a variety of mediums to academic and wider public audiences.

  • In the first five decades of the twentieth century, the lands of East Central Europe experienced a violent transformation, perhaps unlike any other the world had ever seen. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires collapsed during the war decade of 1912-1923, giving way to fragile nation-states marred by a multitude of problems throughout the interwar period. This module dissects the causes of imperial collapse and highlights its deep-felt consequences for the successor states of Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It explains how multi-ethnic coexistence gave way to conflict, how democracy waltzed with authoritarianism and how eventually these former borderlands turned into the bloodlands of the Second World War. Using a wide range of sources, (including texts, images, comics, and music), the module examines in turn: multiethnic coexistence in the imperial lands; the unmixing of people during the First World War; majorities and minorities in the interwar period; the introduction of liberal democracy and the growing appeal of fascism, communism and authoritarianism; and, finally, the mass atrocities committed by erstwhile neighbours during the Second World War. Throughout this tumultuous period, East Central Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, but came to be nostalgically remembered as a mosaic of ethnicities. The premise of this module is therefore simple: we cannot understand the dynamics of the modern world without understanding the story of East Central Europe in the early twentieth century.

  • This module extends, chronologically, from the making of metropolitan Berlin before 1914 to the ramifications of reunification after 1990. Topics include, among others: Berlin society in its various classes, milieus and communities; women across the decades and regimes; high culture and (ethnic, artistic, sexual and criminal) subcultures; the built environment from Wilhelmine grandeur, Republican sobriety, Nazi and Communist showcase architecture to post-war and post-wall reconstruction; the flowering of Jewish Berlin and its extinction; revolution, counter-revolution and the ‘golden twenties’; political activism in the Weimar, Nazi, and Communist eras; anti-fascist resistance, East Berlin dissent and West Berlin non-conformism; conquest, occupation and division; four-power-status, cold war and détente; the Wall and its fall; in short, everything from high politics to low life.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, large and small seminar groups and occasionally in one-to-one tutorials. Outside classes you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every module, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle, which provides a wide range of supporting materials. A Personal Tutor will guide and support throughout your degree and you will be supervised individually by a member of staff when preparing your second-year independent research essay and your final-year dissertation.

Some module units are assessed solely by modulework, others by a combination of examinations, modulework, online quizzes and presentations. In your second year, you will write a 5,000-word independent research essay, and in your final year you will research and write a dissertation based on primary sources.

You will take a study skills module during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This module does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

A Levels: ABB-BBB

Required subjects:

  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.

T-levels

We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:

  • AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
  • AAA – Distinction
  • BBB – Merit
  • CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
  • DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)

Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate preparation programme

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.

A History degree gained at Royal Holloway provides valuable training for many professions as well as a basis for further study. It is highly regarded by employers because of the skills and qualities students develop. It demonstrates that you enjoy being challenged, are able to understand complex issues and have an understanding of other values and cultures, all of which equip you to operate successfully in a fast-changing and increasingly globalised and multi-cultural environment.  

On graduation you will be informed and independent - armed with key skills, such as: problem-solving, organisation and planning, as well as research and analysis.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,800

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25, the fee is £9,250 for that year.

**This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such annual rise has not yet been set for courses starting in 2024 but will advertised here once confirmed.  For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

100%

of research impact is world-leading or internationally excellent

Source: Research Excellence Framework 2021

Top 25

in the UK for research quality

Source: Complete University Guide, 2024

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