History

Undertake your own historical research, take a global perspective on historical and contemporary issues, and understand the past on its own terms and as a crucial way to understand the present.

Research experts

Learn from leading researchers and public academics in our department, including Professor Ronald Hutton and Professor Olivette Otele.

Follow your interests

Our degrees let you pursue your own passions. You can cover a wide chronological and geographical breadth, from ancient British Paganism to the geopolitics of modern Antarctica.

Vibrant community

To extend your historical studies you can attend a variety of exciting events, such as the History Showcase lunchtime lecture series, research seminars, and fascinating talks with guest lecturers.

History at Bristol

We encourage our students to think of themselves as historians from the moment they arrive in Bristol. Our syllabus is research oriented and enables you to progress and become capable of conducting independent, original research.

You will undertake source-based research projects in all three years of your degree, and we actively encourage students to develop and extend their own interests with the support and guidance of academic tutors.

At Bristol we use varied teaching formats and offer a large and diverse choice of units that draw directly from our research interests. All our units include an element of small-group teaching, either as the main focus of study or in support of lectures.

Visit the Department of History's page for more information on the department and our research and teaching staff.

The University is an institution of academic excellence, with staff who encourage you to grow as a person and pursue your own interests. Being able to choose my own modules and investigate areas of history that I have never considered before has been both challenging and incredibly rewarding.

Rosie, BA History

Career prospects

Two people look together at an historic book

Our students secure graduate careers in a wide range of fields, including law, journalism, the media, marketing, finance, government and teaching, as well as going on to postgraduate study.

History trains people to take a complex mass of evidence, make a convincing analysis, and then persuade others that the conclusions drawn are viable. This is a fundamental skill valued by employers, and it is applicable to a wide range of careers.

What our students do after graduating

Course structure

Two students smiling at one another while holding an historical poster.

Bristol students 'do' history as well as read history through a mix of core units and a choice of primary source-based optional units.

In the first year you will study themes in medieval, early modern and modern history. You will then pursue your own pathway through the degree, choosing from a wide range of units. You will undertake one substantial piece of independent research each year.

In your final year, you will produce a 10,000-word dissertation based on extensive engagement with primary sources. You might choose to make this practice-based, combining a written report with a creative or public-facing output such as a walking tour, exhibition or podcast.

You will have the opportunity to contextualise your studies by taking options beyond the Department of History. Alternatively, you can choose to study history with a modern language, with English, or with innovation.

Sample units may include:

  • Aftermath: The Wake of War, 1945-1949
  • Aztecs, Incas and Evangelisers
  • Kingship and Crisis during the Wars of the Roses
  • Red Power and Beyond: Postwar American Indian Ideology and Protest
  • Picturing the 20th Century
  • Teenage Kicks: Youth and Subcultures in Britain since 1918.

Critical and progressive

A bridge going over the harbour in Bristol is surrounded by autumnal trees and people walking around the city.

The city of Bristol has a long and complex history, stretching back over 1,000 years. In 2019 Bristol appointed Professor Olivette Otele as its first Professor of the History of Slavery, to explore the University's relationship with the slave trade. In 2020 Bristol drew worldwide attention when Black Lives Matter protestors toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston.

As a historian at Bristol, you can explore the city's past with optional units like Bristol and Slavery or The Smugglers' City. Our research-active staff have links with the University's Centre for Medieval Studies, Institute for Migration and Mobility Studies and Centre for Environmental Humanities.

History

Our degree gives you the tools to pursue your own passions by embedding choice and small-group teaching at every level. It covers a wide chronological and geographical breadth, from ancient British Paganism to the geopolitics of modern Antarctica.

Why study History at Bristol?

At Bristol we offer you the opportunity to develop and extend your interests through varied teaching formats, and through access to a large and diverse choice of units that draw directly from our research interests. All our units include an element of small-group teaching, either as the main focus of study or in support of lectures.

We encourage our students to think of themselves as historians from the moment they arrive in Bristol. Our syllabus is research oriented and enables you to progress and become capable of conducting independent, original research. You will undertake source-based research projects in all three years of your degree and we actively encourage students to explore their own interests with the support and guidance of academic tutors.

Teaching at Bristol covers topics including contemporary British history, US history, the social and cultural history of the modern world, and medieval and environmental history.

What kind of student would this course suit?

With our emphasis on choice and undergraduate research, this course will appeal to those who wish to pursue independent study. The course attracts students who enjoy discussing ideas and sources and communicating their research in a variety of ways.

Our students have a keen intellectual curiosity about history, a determination to understand the past on its own terms and as a guide for the future, and the desire to take a global perspective on historical and contemporary issues.

How is this course taught and assessed?

Our degree emphasises small-group seminar teaching that facilitates student discussion. Our teaching also includes lectures, tutorial-supported research and group projects. You will be expected to spend longer periods of time on independent study as the course progresses.

Throughout your degree you will undertake original historical research, culminating in your final-year dissertation.

Assessment is by coursework essays, dissertations and research projects, along with written exams and oral presentations.

At the start of your course you will be allocated an academic personal tutor who will follow your progress and give you advice throughout your time at Bristol.

What are my career prospects?

Our students secure graduate careers in a wide range of fields, including law, journalism, the media, marketing, finance, government and teaching, as well as going on to postgraduate study.

History trains people to take a complex mass of evidence, make a convincing analysis, and then persuade others that the conclusions drawn are viable. This is a fundamental skill valued by our civilisation and it is applicable to a wide range of careers.

Find out more about what our students do after graduating.

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our courses.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra (LLB Law)

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