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History

BA
  • UCAS code V100
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

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.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • 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.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • History in the Making is Royal Holloway's first year foundation History module. This module covers the broad sweep from antiquity to the modern day, but it is not intended to provide a straightforward narrative. Instead, this module introduces 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 throughout their degree. How have historians discussed themes like Renaissance, Revolution or Gender? What kinds of sources have they used? How do such ideas influence our understanding of historical change? And how has this shaped public debate and public history beyond the academy? 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 will prove essential to successfully completing a university History degree.

Year 2
  • This second-year module gives students the opportunity to write an extended essay on a subject of their own choosing separate from their various Survey Module and Further Subject taught modules. The essay is intended to facilitate and develop the student's powers of independent thought and research, and to help prepare students for their final year dissertation. Students select their topic in discussion with their academic supervisor, who will provide regular guidance across the year.

Year 3
  • This final year module explores the various developments that have emerged within the discipline of History, in particular over the last 50 years, and which today collectively invigorate its study.  It investigates how far and in what ways the practice and making of 'History' has moved from seeking 'explanation' to providing 'meaning', and from identifying 'causes' to deepening 'understanding'. In this way it will seek to provide students with a clear grasp of how History as a discipline is practised in the early twenty-first century, through a wide range of lectures and seminars that reflect the diversity and innovation at the heart of the study of History today.

  • This module explores ‘big ideas.’ Choosing from a range of options, students will focus on one particular theme, developing expertise in this area as they hone their skills of historical analysis and conceptual interpretation. Balancing depth and range, students will 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.

  • In the final year of our History degree, students are asked to complete a dissertation – an extended 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 students have learned over the module of their degree and is a great opportunity to pursue independent research and write about a subject they feel passionate about, supported by an academic supervisor whose expertise matches the chosen field. This is the student’s chance to make a real contribution to history.

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. Throughout this wide-ranging module, we will 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 a number of political thinkers from the Islamic world like al-Mawardi, Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyya.

  • 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. This module explores some of the changes and developments that took place along the way and asks: 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 is an age of change. It has been seen by many as the beginning of modernity, for it witnesses 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 will assess 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.

  • 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 century, 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.

  • The module introduces students to the history of the non-Western world over the past one hundred years or so. 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. 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.

Year 2

World History

  • This module aims to introduce students to digital technologies that have been applied to historical studies. Through lectures, practical workshops and seminars we will develop a grounding to the range of different approaches that have been used for both research and public engagement to study the past.  Students will come away understanding that digital approaches are not independent to historical research but are powerful tools that have the potential to unlock new avenues into research and allow different approaches to a range of research questions.

  • In antiquity, the history of science was not always a narrative of progress, and common beliefs and scientific theory were generally at odds. This module explores some of the 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 and considers topics including horoscopes, music theory, alchemy and atoms.

  • Medieval Monarchy was 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 will operate though a number of case-studies, all running under the thematic headings of: daughter, wife, mother and widow. We will 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 queens could both guide and exercise royal authority. Two case-studies external to the Latin West (Byzantium and the Mongols) offer rich comparative material.

  • 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.

  • At its zenith the British empire controlled over 1/4 of the world’s global real estate, and 1/5 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 19th 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 underlie this module.

  • 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.

  • This module will examine superpower relations during the Cold War, including the collapse of the USSR and the period of uncertainty which followed. It takes a global comparative perspective in telling the history of international relations in the period 1945-91, and the development of a ‘New World Order’ to 1998.  Key themes will include nuclear tensions and the space race, and the proxy-wars waged in China, Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle-East and elsewhere in an era of ‘peace that is no peace’, as George Orwell predicted in August 1945.

  • Refugees are arguably the most important social, political and legal category of the twentieth century and are set to remain so. This survey 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 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. Students taking the module will be encouraged to have contact with local and national organisations in Britain working with refugees.

  • 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.   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.

History of Asia and the Near East

  • In AD 700, the very existence of Byzantium was in question. The Byzantine Empire had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital Constantinople was under threat. Yet the state revived and flourished so that by 1050 it was once more a major power stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why Byzantium survived, the profound social, cultural, religious and military changes that took place, and how the Byzantines interacted with the world around them.

  • The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) established Latin Christian rule in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module examines 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, and how those groups reacted to the Latin presence. Through close engagement with the primary texts we look at how the Franks lived in the Near East, and reassess the significance of the early Crusades.

  • Sharīʿa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratization 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, explored through a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the 21st century, and addresses the fundamental questions of the relationship between sharīʿa law, the family and political power.

  • 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, whose narratives are set against the background of Confucianism and the Chinese family and explored across the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the 19th to the late 20th century.

  • 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?

  • 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. Students explore how nationalism, decolonisation and revolution in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War, focusing on both the policies of the great powers and the agencies of the Southeast Asian states and peoples themselves.

History of North and South America

  • This module will examine the social, cultural, economic, political and religious development of Latin America from the first encounters to 1650 and 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 include colonial encounters, religious change and local religiosity, Iberian and indigenous contributions to scientific knowledge, colonial hierarchies and inequalities, exploitation and enslavement, and strategies of resistance.

  • 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 In charting this period of staggering growth, we will 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 will interrogate five core themes: Revolution, Democracy, Westward Expansion, Sections and Sectionalism, and the Crisis of the Union.

  • 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 urbanization, the progressive era, the First World War, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the rise of the New Right in the 1980s. The module considers how the War on Terror reshaped America’s foreign policy and 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.

  • This module explores American economic hegemony from the Atlantic Charter to the end of the Great Recession. Topics in America’s long run ‘rise and fall’ include the Marshall Plan; the ‘Golden Age’ of western economic growth; the rise of welfare spending and economic planning; the fall of the Keynesian consensus; stagflation and the rise of the New Right; the rise of the less-developed economies; the end of the Soviet system; and the collapse of U.S. and UK banking.

History of Europe

  • The Roman Republic occupies a special place in the history of Western civilisation. 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 will 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 will be discussed in translation, together with the evidence of archaeology and material culture which helps us to bring the ancient Romans to life.

  • The traditional historiography of western political thought has a tendency to jump from the Ancient Greeks to Augustine to Machiavelli, ignoring the wealth of ideas and theories to be found in between. This module seeks to supplement, and even challenge, this standard canon by paying attention to the ‘lesser’ thinkers that helped to shape the intellectual dismodule of the medieval and early modern periods. Beginning with Cicero, this module proceeds chronologically to explore the development of central debates about the role and nature of authority in society.

  • 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. We will 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.

  • This module studies the birth of a new European order 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 European politics and society for centuries to come. This module explores 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.

  • The period c.1000–1500 in Europe saw some of the farthest-reaching changes in the continent’s history. The frontiers of western Europe expanded in almost every direction; the powers of both secular and ecclesiastical authorities increased; there was rapid growth in the economy; the emergence and development of new forms of religious life; and the establishment of a European artistic culture. This period also saw the birth of the Inquisition, the persecution of heretics and of perceived sexual deviants; increasingly effective state oppression of political dissent; and growing corruption in institutions. The module has a comparative approach and ranges from the British Isles to the Crusader States.

  • The Tudors represent a compelling family drama of powerful men and women, passion and betrayal, jealous rivalries and resentments played out over three generations. Yet beyond being good ‘box office’, the Tudors matter. This was a hugely formative period, of dramatic change, innovation and exploration. During the 16th 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 will reconsider familiar assessments of these most infamous of monarchs.

  • The accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603 saw the union of the crowns and the establishment of the Stuart dynasty in England. During the century that followed, Britain’s political and constitutional foundations were forged. It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. The demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, left the monarchy changed forever. This module explores a century that would redefine the country and remains critical for understanding the nation today.

  • 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. The module will ask: 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?

  • 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 the major revolutions of 1848. The rapid rise of industrialisation and new technologies like the railway changed the face of European cities, 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.

  • 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. Topics 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 module scrutinises the main political, cultural, and social features and the historical “turning points” of this comparatively young nation state of Italy. Students will discover how the past shapes and influences the present in Italian culture and politics and will learn the challenge of the various unresolved issues and how the state reacts to them. It will also explore the forces behind the unification of the country in the 1800s, fascism, the impact of the Cold War, the high levels of politicisation in national life as well as the figure of Silvio Berlusconi who has dominated recent Italian politics.

  • 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 module will examine 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 Europe was the dark continent.

  • Europe has changed more since 1945 than at 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. This module explores the major political developments of the second half of the twentieth century, including the post-war tensions between the superpowers which led to the onset and module of the Cold War in Europe; decolonisation and its consequences for the European powers; the collapse of the dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece; the oil crises, the demise of the Soviet Union; and the major post-Cold War events such as German unification and the wars in Yugoslavia.

  • 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. This module will introduce students to the story of how British communities made the remarkable journey from one world to the other.

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

World History

  • Ancient medicine was a highly developed discipline, which had a holistic view of the patient, their life-style, occupation and diet. Key to mental and physical 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. This module provides an introduction to the development of ancient medicine from Hippocrates to Galen, and its reception and development in the Medieval and Islamic world.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, products and ideas across the Atlantic basin between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. 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. Students will explore the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other.

  • 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. It deals with the development of the concept and the different approaches to studying genocide, from political science and anthropology as well as history, and explores different explanations for genocide, such as nation-building, race-theory, gender and social psychological aggression. Case studies include the colonization of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, and post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

  • 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.

History of Asia and the Near East

  • Sharīʿa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratization 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, explored through a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the 21st century, and addresses the fundamental questions of the relationship between sharīʿa law, the family and political power.

  • In AD 700, the very existence of Byzantium was in question. The Byzantine Empire had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital Constantinople was under threat. Yet the state revived and flourished so that by 1050 it was once more a major power stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why Byzantium survived, the profound social, cultural, religious and military changes that took place, and how the Byzantines interacted with the world around them.

  • 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 explores the transformation from empire to nation state in the Near and Middle East, from Greece to Iran, during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We study the ambitious attempts at modernization undertaken by Middle Eastern governments, as the region came under intense pressure from western colonial powers; focusing on the Ottoman Empire, but with some reference to Qajar Persia. We then explore the impact of World War One, 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 Iran, and the aggressively secular Republic of Turkey.

  • 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, whose narratives are set against the background of Confucianism and the Chinese family and explored across the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the 19th to the late 20th century.

  • 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?

  • 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. Students explore how nationalism, decolonisation and revolution in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War, focusing on both the policies of the great powers and the agencies of the Southeast Asian states and peoples themselves.

  • 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 North and South America

  • “Martin didn't make the movement, the movement made Martin” noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon, but also still emphasise the vital leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. 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.

  • The Reagan Presidency 1981-89 was the catalyst for the neo-libertarian ascendency which has come to dominate American politics.  However, the historiography is divided, and almost bi-polar: balanced analyses are rare and the man himself is ‘off-limits’ in America. This module will look to address different aspects of Reagan’s influence on America, many of which still inform U.S. society, and will concentrate on three main areas - Reaganomics, Social Conservatism, and the Cold War – with a retrospective on the Reagan legacy.

History of Europe

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how Roman leaders employed art and architecture to express their authority and values, from the competitive nobility of the late Roman Republic to the emperor Augustus and his successors. The module also explores how Rome’s Imperial expansion led to increasing contact with other cultures and religions which influenced the art and architectural style of ancient Rome and vice versa.

  • This module spans the four centuries (AD 284 to 641) that marked the transformation from classical antiquity to the early medieval world. Those years witnessed the emergence of a Christian Roman empire, the barbarian migrations, the fall of imperial power in the west, and the rise of the Germanic kingdoms and the eastern Roman empire. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through both literary sources (in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

  • Europe underwent a ‘food revolution’ in the Middle Ages. In c.1100 the diet of even the wealthy was monotonous and based on local and seasonal supplies. By c.1400, courts vied to outdo each other in extravagance and pageantry, and the first celebrity chefs were even writing their own cookbooks. 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.

  • 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.

  • From the Restoration of Charles II to the ‘Regency’ period under 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. Students will 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 will 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, while innovative projects will push students to think analytically and creatively about the role of the past both today and in the future.

  • 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. This module takes students on a stroll through the streets of ‘Victorian Babylon’ and inside its homes, workplaces and municipal and reformatory buildings. The module enables students to navigate its extremes, from imperial and consumerist splendour to crushing poverty. A particular methodological focus will introduce students to exciting new ways of studying the urban experience and built environment, by making first hand use of the rich material culture of Victorian London.

  • This 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, debates we see reflected in the literature of the time. The emphasis here 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.

  • The slender flapper, cigarette holder in hand, off to cocktails or the flicks epitomizes the surface glamour of modernity. With an office job, a swimsuit, sex appeal and a voguish knowledge of Freud, she was ready for anything. But how real were her gains? This module explores the words and experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation, the constraints on women in war and peace, in work and at home, the expectations and their outcomes.

  • In the first four decades of the twentieth century, the lands of Eastern Europe experienced a violent transformation. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires were replaced by fragile nation-states shaped by multi-ethnic tensions, nationalist awakenings, ethnic cleansing, the failure of parliamentary government and the appeal of authoritarianism. Throughout this tumultuous period, Eastern Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, and so this module provides an essential background to understanding the dynamics of the modern world.

  • The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. 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. This module will explore 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 began.

Year 3

World History

  • Explorers and Inventors in Classical and Late Antiquity
  • This module seeks to understand the common roots of the recurrent phenomenon of genocide 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 debate the causes of these genocides and 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.

  • ‘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. Students will seek a critical understanding of how politicians, scientists and ordinary people - in the rich North as much as in the global South - became convinced that a concerted push could equalise living standards and life chances around the world, and likewise how this dream survived failure on the ground and continued to evolve through geo-political interests, economic globalisation and the international ‘aid industry’.

  • This module examines the ups and downs in American-Chinese relations during the Cold War, from hostile enemies in the 1950s and much of the 1960s to tacit allies by the 1970s. Students will approach the subject not only from the American perspective but also from Chinese viewpoints through both Western and (translated) Chinese primary sources, revealing how the two great powers were shaped by, and helped shape, the global Cold War and teaching 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.

History of Asia and the Near East

  • 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, which claimed the life of Emperor Frederick I of Germany, tarnished the reputation of King Philip of France, and set in opposition the iconic figures of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. Students on this module will assess the motives and actions of the crusaders and their Muslim opponents and explore their legacies down the centuries.

  • The Causes and Consequences of the Fall of Constantinople (1453)
  • This module examines the history of Chinese migration in both an internal and external context, engaging with the issue of frontiers and the long-term impact of historic migration on China’s situation today. Students will explore how Chinese human mobility responded to and reflected political, economic and cultural changes from Qing imperial times to the Communist era, and how the lives of Chinese migrants in foreign countries reflected China’s interactions across broad geographical boundaries from Taiwan and Hong Kong to the United States and United Kingdom.

  • This 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. Students explore the rise of anti-imperial nationalist movements and the decline of (British) imperial power, seen both from a top-down perspective and from below. The eventual transfer of power to two separate states - India and Pakistan - was a fraught and violent process with long-lasting repercussions for both South Asia as a region and wider global history.

History of North and South America

  • 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 the nature of the American nation state and the status of African Americans within that nation. These contentious issues of politics and race were not truly resolved by this bloody conflict, and to understand America’s more recent history and politics students must get to grips with the Civil War in which the modern American nation was forged.

  • This module provides a detailed and intensive overview of the history of African American Islam. It focuses primarily on the development of African American Muslim communities in the twentieth century including the Nation of Islam and the Imam W.D. Mohammed community.  Students will explore the career and legacy of Elijah Muhammad’s national minister, Malcolm X, as well as recent studies highlighting the work of women in the original NOI, the resurrection of the movement, and the NOI’s work with Black Lives Matter and interfaith outreach.

European History

  • “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.

  • 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 to the death of Augustine of Hippo (author of the Confessions and City of God). 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 through a spectrum of translated texts and material culture that students will analyse and debate.

  • The century from c.1050 to 1150 was one of dynamic change in Christian Europe. Old states were strengthened and new ones founded under increasingly centralized power; demographic growth resulted in expanding settlements; while relative peace encouraged new cultural forms. Monasteries were centres of religious and social activity, and new debates now arose over how both personal and communal religious life should be led. Students will explore the varied hopes of the competing reformers, and the lengths to which they went to realise their ideals.

  • 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.

     

  • Is it true that religion and the British empire were inseparable? This module critically interrogates that question, examining how far empire was interested in spiritual mission and how far missionaries can be considered agents of imperialism. Students need to define imperialism, particularly cultural imperialism, in order to explore the history of British cultural engagement and encounter with indigenous peoples within and outside the empire, and will emerge with a complex understanding of colonialism 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. Through a wide range of visual sources, students look at the role of photography in everyday life – from staid Victorian family portraits to contemporary scandals over pornography – and how the new medium of film and TV represented twentieth-century Britain as class, race and gender were reconfigured on screen.

  • 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, sodomites, sissies, tomboys, brown hatters, dykes, perverts: queers. Since the late nineteenth century these and many other such terms have been employed in Britain to identify and codify queer sexual practices and identities. With a particular emphasis on oral history, this module explores 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.

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe was in a state of political and social flux. Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, the rise of mass politics and the decline of established religions saw existing hierarchies and authorities challenged by new liberating ideologies: secularism, occultism, nationalism, anarchism, socialism, feminism. Through a wide range of sources, students will explore contemporary debates over race, class and gender, the conflicting prescriptions for political, social and moral reconstruction showing how 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 trace its unfolding through the different stages of the Nazi ‘Final Solution’. This narrative completely neglects the victims’ perspectives, which are the focus of this module. Students examine case studies of emigration, insurgencies in ghettos, cultural resistance, the difficult postwar rebuilding of life, and the impact of digital technologies on mediations of survivor-hood, drawing upon 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.

  • New experiences of leisure assumed rapid social and cultural ascendency in Britain in the twentieth century. Radio and cinema propelled audiences towards the reinvention of recreation and entertainment. Listening to music, dancing, drinking and eating, shopping, and playing and watching sport; all were hugely popular and flourished in urban settings. This module explores how leisure and popular culture interacted with the existing forces of class, gender, sexuality, race, age and nationality, and influenced how many individuals (re)created, imagined and lived out their identities.

  • Margaret Thatcher 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. But what exactly was ‘Thatcherism’, and why does Thatcher remain such a deeply controversial figure, so politically and culturally relevant to contemporary society? This module will seek to evaluate how far Thatcherism succeeded in its objectives, and allow students to explore the complex interactions between political, cultural and personal histories of Britain from 1970 to 2000.

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: AAB-ABB

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.

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 Pathways

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, the International Study Centre offers the following pathway programmes:

International Foundation Year - for progression to the first year of an undergraduate degree.

International Year One - for progression to the second year of an undergraduate degree. You can join the International Year One in January 2021 and progress to degree study in September 2021.

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**: £17,700

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 loansscholarships 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 2020/21, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2021/22 has not yet been confirmed.

**The Government has confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2020/21 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course. For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has recently confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2021, we will award an automatic fee reduction which brings your fee into line with the fee paid by UK students. This will apply for the duration of your course.

Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions. Fees shown above are for 2020/21 and are displayed for indicative purposes only.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

95% overall student satisfaction

Source: National Student Survey, 2019

Top 20 in the UK for History

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020

8th in the UK for the impact of our research

Source: THE, REF, Institutions ranked by subject, 2014

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