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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Please note: Courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*AA
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

Year 1

The first year of the History degree offers you the opportunity to study a range of periods and approaches to history. Many of the modules cover quite large topics or long periods; these are intended to introduce you to subjects which may be unfamiliar and which pose new questions and new problems, showing you how wide the study of history really is.

You will take ‘Making History’ which will enable you to develop more advanced study skills through working in a small, intensive seminar. These require extensive reading, discussion, and writing about problems of historical interpretation in a defined area, and will focus on both primary and secondary sources. The module is divided into different strands from which you will make your choice.

In addition, you will choose four further modules from a list of approximately 12. You must choose at least one Medieval, one Early Modern, and one Late Modern module. Typically, you will have one weekly lecture and a small-group seminar every two or three weeks. For the seminar, you will be given reading to do in advance, and on the basis of this you and the other students in your group will discuss particular issues. Students are expected to lead the discussion in seminars. Most modules are assessed by coursework essays and by a two-hour examination in May/June, in which you write answers to two essay-style questions.

The modules on offer change each year, as they reflect the research interests of staff; we cannot guarantee in advance that a particular module will be running in any particular year.

Examples of optional modules

  • Modern Times: a Cultural History of Europe, c. 1860-1960
  • Decline and Crisis? Europe 1300-1500
  • The Rise and Fall of American Slavery, 1607-1865
  • Power in Africa
  • Connected Histories: Early Modern Europe
  • Imagining East Asia

Year 2

In the second year, you will study five modules. One of these, ‘Conversations with History’, is a double-module which is taught through student-led seminars. It develops your understanding of issues of historiography, provides an introduction to the writing of more extended historical argument, and prepares you for the final year Dissertation. This is an important feature of our course, and so all Single Honours students will take it. It is divided into different strands covering different topics from which you will make your choice.

Alongside ‘Conversations’, you will take four further modules. These are taught intensively over half of the academic year. There are many other departments in the University, of course, and you may take modules from other departments as well – but you may not take more than 40 credits (normally the equivalent of two modules) across your second and third years. As in the first year, our focus on research-led teaching means that the modules on offer will vary year by year.

Examples of optional modules

  • Conversations Strands: The End of the Roman Empire; Slavery in Modern Africa; Discipline and Modernity
  • Treasure of Heaven: Medieval Monasticism
  • Political Culture in Japan since 1688
  • Gender and Sexuality During Britain’s Long Twentieth Century.

Year 3

The third year allows you to specialise, with a triple-module Special Subject, taught entirely through seminars, which involves close study of primary sources. For this, you will work in a small group with a specialist in the field – with a three-hour seminar every week. In the final year, you will also undertake supervised independent research leading to the writing of a double-module Dissertation. Given this emphasis on focused study and independence, there is no requirement for you to study a range of periods in this year.

As well as the Special Subject and the Dissertation, you will also take a single module in the third year: these are all strongly reflexive in character, encouraging you to think about the ways in which historical knowledge is produced.

You will choose your own Dissertation topic, through consultation with a supervisor. There are some limits, set by the availability of primary material and the expertise of supervisors, but the potential range of topics is very wide indeed: in recent years topics have varied from representation of bandits in twentieth-century Hollywood films to ceremonial in medieval France.

As with modules at other levels, the precise choice of Special Subject and third-year single modules changes from year to year. Our Special Subjects cover a wide range of different periods and historical approaches. This list gives you an idea of some of this range. There are many other Special Subjects available and the list changes from year to year, allowing us to be completely flexible in the opportunities we provide to students with different historical interests:

Examples of special subjects

  • Developing Africa
  • Politics and Welfare: England 1880-1914
  • The Princely Court in Northern Europe, 1350-1500
  • A World Turned Upside Down: Radicalism and the English Revolution.

Examples of single modules

  • Gods, Guns and Globalization: A History of Religion in Africa
  • East Asia in the Historical Perspective
  • Health, Wealth and Happiness
  • History of American Capitalism.


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

Study abroad

The Department participates in the University-wide overseas exchanges with:

  • Boston College (USA)
  • the University of British Columbia (Canada)
  • the University of Hong Kong (China)
  • the National University of Singapore (Singapore).

Students can apply to spend an additional year of study abroad. This is normally taken between the second and third years of the degree. If you study on the four-year Joint Honours Modern European Languages and History degree, you will spend your third year abroad at a European university or a work placement.

Placement Year*

You can opt to take a 40 week paid internship (Placement Year) in any country, in your second year of study. If you opt to apply to take a Placement Year you will have the support of the University’s Faculty Placement Officers, to help find placements across many sectors, as well as support from the Department’s own representative. You will be required to undertake an assessment to pass the placement year.

* subject to approval


The BA (Hons) History degree is directed towards acquisition of a high standard of skills in research, analysis and expression, both written and oral. As a student on the course, you will receive a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. The balance between these activities will change over the course of the degree as you develop your knowledge and abilities as an independent learner.

Timetabled contact is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting-point for your development as an independent, self-motivated learner. In the first year, you will spend around 75% of your term-time working hours in independent research; by the final year, this will rise to around 90%. As the QAA History Subject Benchmark statement makes clear (sec 6.6): ‘Most of a history student’s time is spent working independently, reading, thinking and writing’.

In the first year, five modules provide an induction into the discipline of advanced historical study. They offer engagement with different periods and approaches to the study of the past, and experience of the way in which History, as a community of practice, encompasses the diversity of the human experience. Lectures introduce broad historical questions and offer contextualisation and critical commentary; seminars provide an opportunity for you to develop your critical skills through discussion for which you will have prepared in advance. A resource package for each module, provided through the online learning environment and as a physical handbook, will guide your independent research. You will also attend sessions on study skills, tailored to the discipline, covering library resources, note-taking, seminar work and essay writing.

In the second year, there is an increased emphasis on the development of critical and analytical skills. The curriculum continues to require you to engage with a range of periods and styles of historical study, with modules introducing new problems in a more specific framework. One compulsory module develops the induction into the community of practice through progression to a research-led seminar-based learning style. In view of the increased role of smaller-group work, which requires more independent preparation by students, the average timetabled contact time will be lower in second year.

In the third year you will be expected to take further responsibility for managing your own time. The curriculum, while continuing to offer support and guidance, will require you to use the skills in independent study and time management which you have developed in the two preceding years. The Dissertation, in particular, requires you to establish your own research agenda and identify primary historical sources and extended reading lists, giving you the opportunity to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline. In your Special Subject you will be involved in a seminar group which meets for three hours each week to discuss the interpretation of chosen primary sources and to interrogate the secondary literature.

Throughout the degree you will also benefit from the ready accessibility of staff, who will respond to emails within two working days, and each of whom sets aside two hours each week in which students may drop in to see them. This un-timetabled one-to-one contact usually focuses on a specific issue of analysis or argument and gives students a strong sense of personal engagement with learning. You will be encouraged to attend the Department’s extensive programme of research-related activities, including its research seminar series, and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers and other events organised by the student-run History Society. In addition to this, you will be invited to attend regular events organised jointly by the department and the Careers and Enterprise Centre.

Entry requirements

A level offer - A*AA including History

Cambridge Pre-U - D2D3D3 including History

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – D*DD and History A level at grade A (or equivalent) is required

IB Diploma score - 38 with 666 at Higher Level including History

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

  • Ancient History’ is not accepted in lieu of ‘History’.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • Applications for deferred entry may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact us using
  • We welcome applicants who have taken Global and Independent Research Cambridge Pre-U and Extended Project Qualification. These qualifications, however, do not form 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.

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 £22,900 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £22,900 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


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:

  • 83% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £27,000.

(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


We have one of the most highly regarded history departments in the UK and our students love being here. This reputation is the product of the quality and commitment of our staff, and the breadth of our teaching, which reflects the research interests of a Department with an international outlook.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 40 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2021.
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2021.
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.


For a current list of staff, please see the History Department web pages.


The Department of History is located in the heart of Durham, next to Durham Cathedral and Castle, which together form the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are within easy reach of all university colleges, libraries, lecture rooms, and other facilities.

The Department occupies a group of historic townhouses on North Bailey and Palace Green. Originally built as coffee houses and lawyers’ offices in the 17th and 18th Centuries, these buildings now accommodate academic staff, administrative staff and seminar rooms. All postgraduate classes and supervision meetings take place within the History Department.


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The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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