Why study history?

Most people have an interest in history. At some point in our lives, we’ve all wondered why particular things happened in the past, or why people behaved the way they did. But history isn’t just about the past – it’s also about helping us to understand the present. How can we best deal with the Syrian refugee crisis? Is fake news really a recent phenomenon? Can the EU survive after Brexit? History can provide important insights into all of these questions.

Studying for a degree in history can be hugely rewarding. Not only will you learn about the past, and how to investigate it, but you’ll also acquire skills that can be applied in a wide range of careers. For example, you’ll learn how to evaluate evidence, develop an argument, and communicate that argument in a convincing way. You’ll become an independent thinker and problem solver who manages their own time and learning.

“For me, the qualities of my degree focus on the skills I gained. These include writing and vocabulary skills, being able to form a reasoned conclusion by acknowledging both sides of an argument, researching, and problem solving. All of these skills are extremely relevant to a wide range of careers.”

History graduates are especially valued by employers because of these skills, and graduates routinely find work in government, business, the media, education, marketing, and law.

“Many of my friends have gone into the Marketing sector, as many skills transfer very well. I myself have gone into journalism as I now work at Manx Radio. I also know many people who have done conversion courses to Law because, again, the skills learned fit extremely well into that sector.”

If you’re not yet sure what career path to follow, a history degree is a great way to gain important new skills while keeping your career options open. If you’d like some more inspiration, have a look at What can you do with a history degree?

What does a history degree involve?

Studying history at university is rather different to studying the subject at A-level. To begin with, you won’t spend much time in class – around 10 hours a week – so the onus is very much on managing your own time effectively.

Class-time will involve lectures, seminars (which are often student-led and involve group discussions), and individual tutorials with your module tutor.

However, most of your time will be spent preparing for classes and working on assignments. You’ll also spend a lot of time reading and thinking about the topics you’re studying – you have to give yourself time to evaluate what you’ve read, and come up with your own informed opinions about it.

Assignments will vary. You’ll have to write many essays, but you’ll also be assessed through oral presentations, book reviews, and source analyses. Sometimes you’ll be assessed on groupwork, where you have to work on a project with a small team of classmates. All of these assessment types are designed to help build different sets of skills.

Unsurprisingly, studying history involves lots of reading, so if you don’t like reading, then this probably isn’t the degree for you. But if you like learning new things, and are excited at the prospect of doing your own research and uncovering new information, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy studying history!

Where to study? 

Every university history course is different, so it’s important to make sure that you choose the right one for you. Think about what periods, regions or issues interest you the most (the classical world, medieval Europe, the Industrial Revolution?) and make sure that you choose a university with expertise in those areas.

NEXT: Studying at UCM

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