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Degree type


Course length

3 or 4 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*AA
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

If you’re creative and curious with an interest in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the BA in Liberal Arts could be what you’re looking for. A highly regarded degree subject with a long-standing tradition, Liberal Arts gives you the freedom to craft a programme of study that is tailored around your interests and career aspirations. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

This course appeals to highly qualified, self-motivated and independent-minded students who are seeking to make creative connections between their subjects. A multidisciplinary qualification that sits outside of traditional boundaries, the course offers exceptional flexibility and the opportunity to learn in some of the UK’s most prestigious Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences departments.

You can choose to focus on two subjects at a deeper level or spread your learning across a wider range of subjects. You will explore a diverse selection of contemporary worldwide issues which will develop your intellectual and critical skills. As such, you will be well placed to take up careers in fields as diverse as law, teaching, publishing and the financial services.

 In the Arts and Humanities you can choose from:

  • Classics and Ancient History
  • English Literature 
  • History
  • Music 
  • Philosophy 
  • Theology and Religious Studies
  • Visual Arts
  • Languages, currently Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish

Up to half of your modules can be chosen from subjects in the Social Sciences (subject to timetable compatibility and entry requirements):

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Geography
  • International Relations
  • Politics
  • Sociology and Criminology

The degree culminates in a dissertation or research project on a relevant topic which draws together the skills developed throughout the course. 

Course structure

Years 1 and 2

The first two years follow a similar structure. In each year you will study six modules, these can be chosen from a minimum of two and a maximum of four subjects. The subjects currently on offer are listed below. 

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement or year abroad)

In your final year, you will complete a research project in your primary subject, and study four other modules, in two or three subjects.

Modules can be chosen from a list of subjects which currently includes:

Arts and Humanities subjects

Classics and Ancient History includes in translation, the history, philosophy, literature and culture of the ancient world, and the study of Greek and Latin at several different levels, opening up the literatures of the Greek and Roman worlds in their original languages.

English Literature includes specific literary genres, such as poetry, drama and the novel. Also, the literatures of specific periods, including Mediaeval, Renaissance, Romantic, Victorian and Modern Literature, as well as studies in the theory and practice of literary criticism.

History includes mediaeval, early modern and late modern history through a range of modules in economic, social, religious, cultural, political and diplomatic history, focusing on Britain, continental Europe, Africa, China and the USA.

Modern Languages and Cultures includes the principal languages of Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Each offers core language modules and ‘culture’ modules which cover a broad range of themes in history, politics, literature, film, the media, linguistics, translation and interpreting.

If you are not specialising in one or more modern languages, you can study a number of languages, currently including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish, at various levels, from beginners’ to advanced level, in the School’s Centre for Foreign Language Study (CFLS).

Music includes musicology, including the history of music, music theory and analysis, and ethnomusicology, and, where these are studied alongside musicology, performance, composition and other practice-based disciplines.

Philosophy includes many of the principal philosophical disciplines, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics, and also the history and philosophy of science and medicine.

Theology and Religion includes biblical studies, Christian theology, including the history of theology, contemporary theology, the philosophy of religion, and ethics and religious studies, including the sociology and anthropology of religion.

Visual Arts combines high-level critical and historical study of visual arts and film with a range of practical skills.

Social Sciences subjects

Anthropology includes cultural anthropology and physical anthropology, and a range of modules concerned with material culture, the physical and social evolution of humans, and topics such as medical anthropology and development anthropology.

Archaeology focuses on particular periods and places, including prehistoric archaeology, Roman archaeology, medieval and post-medieval archaeology, and the archaeology of Britain, Europe, Egypt, India and the Near East, also study of the employment of scientific methods in archaeology.

Business includes modules in entrepreneurship, management and governance, and some students choose to study additional modules in business management and marketing.

Economics includes microeconomics, macroeconomics and topics such as the history of economic thought, environmental economics, development economics, monetary economics and the economics of social policy.

Education includes central issues in school and higher education involving the study of the historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological and political dimensions of educational theory and practice, and the development of the social sciences in the modern and postmodern periods.

Geography includes human geography and a range of modules concerned with geographical theory and methods as well as special topics in urban transformation, environmental change, development, and hazard and risk.

International Relations and Politics includes politics in Europe, the USA, the Middle East, and the Far East, as well as the history of political thought, or international relations, with a special emphasis on the Middle East and the Far East, and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.

Sociology includes theories and methods, social structures, social policy, social exclusion, and the sociology of health, the city and popular music.

Criminology includes theories and methods, crime and deviance, policing, sociology of punishment and the criminal justice system.

Certain elements of the course are defined by the choice of subject, for example:

  • If your principal subjects include one or more modern languages then your studies will be extended from three years to four. The third year is spent abroad either studying at university, teaching English or undertaking internships.
  • Liberal Arts includes the opportunity to transfer onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway after Year 2. If you are selected your studies will extend from three years to four.
  • If your primary interest lies in the Social Sciences, you should apply for the Combined Honours in Social Sciences degree instead.
  • If you are only interested in modern languages subjects, you should apply for the Modern Languages and Cultures degree instead.
  • Your choice of modules is subject to availability, timetable compatibility and the approval of the Director of Liberal Arts. You may also be required to meet specific A level or equivalent requirements.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


Methods of learning will vary according to subject choice but are likely to include a blend of lectures and small-group seminars alongside tutorials, language classes, workshops and practical classes. Alongside formal learning sessions will be informal one-on-one support, and self-directed learning, such as research, reading and writing.

Seminars, workshops, and practical classes take place in much smaller groups than lectures, small enough to allow one-on-one interaction with the academic team. The small-group format and one-on-one attention from your personal academic advisor are embedded into the learning experience to help you get more out of your studies.

As you progress to the final year there's an increased focus on self-directed learning and independent research, including a major project, as you begin to prepare for professional or postgraduate life.


Your choice of subjects and modules will determine the ways in which your work is assessed, and are likely to include essays, examinations and seminar presentations. Assessment is designed to evaluate your knowledge and understanding of the modules, test your critical thinking and determine your ability to relate your learning to real-world issues.

In your final year, you will also complete a research project or dissertation – supported by one-on-one supervision – that makes up one-third of your final-year marks. At this stage of the course the content is heavily self-driven. You will be expected to think independently and take greater control of the direction of study.

Entry requirements

A level offer – A*AA

  • To study English Literature, History or Music, an A at A level (or equivalent) is required in the subject.
  • To study Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian or Spanish at an advanced level, an A at A level (or equivalent) in the language is required.
  • To study Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish ab initio, an A at A level (or equivalent) in a modern foreign language is required.
  • To study Chinese or Japanese ab initio, an A at A level (or equivalent) in a modern foreign language is desirable but not essential.
  • To study Economics, an A at A level (or equivalent) in Mathematics is required.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – D*DD and subject-specific A levels (or equivalent) as above.

IB Diploma score – 38 with 666 in higher level subjects.

There are also higher level subject requirements.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
  • We are happy to consider applications for deferred entry.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £25,500 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £25,500 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Liberal Arts

Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 85% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 70% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £25,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Liberal Arts

Studying a Combined degree at Durham can provide considerable flexibility and choice across Durham University’s breadth of world-renowned, research-led education. It allows you to create an academically ambitious degree, suited to your individual interests, strengths and career plans.

Liberal Arts is a flexible, multidisciplinary degree for those who want to specialise in two or more principal subjects. It offers you the opportunity to construct a distinctive programme of study shaped by your particular interests and aspirations and enables you to make creative connections between your subjects. In the Liberal Arts course, you can take modules in almost any subject in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

For more information see our department webpages.


  • 90% of courses are in the UK Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2021.
  • Top 50 in Arts and Humanities subjects in the QS World University Rankings 2021.
  • Top 20 in The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings by Subject 2021. 


Find out more:

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