93 per cent of students on history programmes at Aston University agreed that their course has provided them with opportunities to bring information and ideas together from different topics (National Student Survey, 2022)
English at Aston University was ranked top 5 for ‘spend per student’ (Guardian, 2023).
Gain experience for your CV with the integrated placement year.
English at Aston University was ranked top 10 for ‘student to staff ratio’ (Guardian, 2023).
Course outline and modules
What you’ll learn
Working closely with experienced historians, you’ll have opportunities to study topics such as nationalism, state-building and inter-state relations; the history of war and peace; religious and ethnic conflict; trauma and memory; and issues of globalisation in the present that can only be understood by looking to the past. For example, you’ll learn how the British Empire helped to create the NHS, why Britain voted to stay in the EU in 1975 and why Margaret Thatcher became the first pop star of British international relations.
With a global outlook, our teaching is informed by exciting historical research. As part of the course, you’ll participate in field trips to historical sites and get your hands dirty by digging into local archives, as well as conducting original research on a topic of your choosing. Studying cutting-edge techniques such as digital and oral history will give you new insights and further boost your employment prospects.
In English, you’ll harness the power of the written and spoken word to discover how English works in society and become an expert communicator. The English programme has been designed with your future in mind, linking your studies to professionally relevant contexts with practical applications. It is directly informed by the research expertise of our staff, who specialise in disciplines including literary linguistics, forensic linguistics, language education, workplace communication, corpus linguistics, and contemporary and historical literature.
We study everything from poetry and plays to news reporting and social media, providing you with the opportunity to develop skills in linguistic analysis, while exploring literary genres from Shakespeare to post-apocalyptic science fiction, considering periods from the seventeenth century to the present day. You’ll study literacy as a social practice and explore how and why people read and write at all levels of society. You’ll develop theoretical knowledge, cutting-edge linguistic skills, and techniques in close reading and literary analysis, with applications in legal, educational, and business contexts and beyond. We will train you to critically engage with a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, and you’ll have the chance to develop your skills as a writer through our creative writing module.
Together, both history and English will equip you with the knowledge and analytical skills that will enable you to think critically and work independently. This includes how to design a research project, collect and handle data and, most importantly, develop an advanced analytical mindset. This training will be essential for your final-year dissertation, during which you will carry out your own individual research project. This experience will provide you with a skillset that is highly desired in a wide range of industries and areas of work.
- Information for international applicants
Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students. Students from over 120 different countries chose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study, it’s also a great place to live.
Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.
For more information on applying as an international student, visit our webpage: www.aston.ac.uk/international/students-applying
Post-study work visa
Graduate Immigration Route
Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
Choosing to start your Aston journey with our foundation programme in social science will help you develop specialist knowledge to ensure that you are fully prepared to study your chosen undergraduate course. During your foundation year, you’ll have excellent support from academics while group projects will give you the chance to meet new people, make new friends and build a network of peers who will share your university journey. We also have a Learning Development Centre that can provide additional support and offer pre-sessional English language programmes.
For International Students intending to do a foundation year, visit ONCAMPUS
- Year 1
- The Novel Through Time (15 credits)
- Stylistics (15 credits)
- Introduction to Language Study (30 credits)
- Global History in Perspective (15 credits)
This module introduces students to important aspects of political, social, cultural, and economic world history from the eighteenth century to the present. Key themes include colonialism and its consequences, the rise of the state, industrialization, key political ideologies, nationalism, the two World Wars, the Cold War, the resurgence of nationalism after 1989, and the emergence of terrorism as a set of ideas and practices.
Assessment methods: examination
- Making Histories I: Methods, Theories, Controversies (30 credits)
Modern historians adopt a wide variety of different theoretical and methodological approaches to their studies. Following a loose chronological structure, it will offer specific case studies which enable students to explore complex themes such as memory and societal change. By the end of the module, students will have acquired a sound understanding of the multiple ways in which we can think about the past.
Assessment methods: essay, presentation, portfolio
- Contemporary Britain: from the Boer War to Brexit (15 credits)
This module introduces students to the principal events, themes, and debates around British twentieth century history. Reviewing the key episodes of British history between the Boer War in 1902 and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016, we will investigate why Britain lost its position of global dominance in this period and how it coped with the decline of its empire. Throughout the module, we will engage in debates on the ‘master narrative’ of the twentieth century for Britain: was this a century of decline, of transformation, of reinvention, or something different entirely?
Assessment methods: open book examination
- Year 2
- Reading and Society (15 credits)
- Written Text Analysis (15 credits)
- Case Studies in Global History (30 credits)
This module familiarises students with history as an international and global discipline. We begin with a comparison of traditional and more recent historiographical approaches to 'global', 'universal', 'world', 'transnational', and 'international' (or 'diplomatic') history. We then examine a number of case studies of global history, covering topics such as the USA on the world stage, Latin America and the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Japanese Empire, War in Europe, and colonial entanglements in Africa.
Assessment methods: group presentation, literature review, essay
- Making Histories II: Oral and Digital Methods (15 credits)
This module introduces students to new methods and practices for researching and communicating history in the digital age. Making use of some of the most up-to-date transdisciplinary and computational techniques, students will be encouraged to reflect upon the impact of new technologies on traditional ways of studying and presenting the past.
Assessment methods: continuous assessment, project
Choose 30 credits from the following English option modules:
- Language and Style (15 credits)
- Post-apocalyptic Fiction (15 credits)
- Sociolinguistics (15 credits)
- Professional Communication (15 credits)
- Introduction to Corpus Linguistics (15 credits)
- Intercultural Communication (15 credits)
- The Language of the Law (15 credits)
- Literature in Film (15 credits)
- English Language Teaching (15 credits)
- Language at Work (15 credits)
- Spoken Discourse Analysis (15 credits)
- Language in the News Media (15 credits)
- Crime Fiction (15 credits)
Choose 15 credits from the following history option modules:
- Humanitarian Action and Foreign Intervention, 1915 – today (15 credits)
This module traces two key developments of modern international politics: humanitarian action and foreign intervention. We will investigate humanitarian politics in the context of genocide, discussing why the international community has time and again failed to anticipate, prevent, or even merely to effectively stop large-scale crimes against humanity. We will also discuss the more recent doctrine of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and future perspectives for cross-border humanitarian action.
Assessment methods: literature review, research proposal
- The Atlantic World: Slavery and Emancipation (15 credits)
This module investigates the history of slavery and emancipation across the Atlantic World. It follows the slave trade from its origins in the time of Columbus through its slow demise in the nineteenth century and its continuing impact and legacies today. Students will analyse and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources. Special emphasis is placed on resistance to enslavement, including runaways, rebellions and the abolitionist movement.
Assessment methods: presentation, research project
- History of Internationalism: From Karl Marx to Greta Thunberg (15 credits)
What do Karl Marx, Malcolm X, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Greta Thunberg have in common? All of these landmark historical figures believed in internationalism and thought that the success of their cause—whatever this was—depended on being able to include and engage people in other countries and/or the entire world. This seminar will explore the history of internationalism as a set of ideas and practices. Particular attention will be devoted to cases, ranging from communist internationalism, liberal/conservative internationalism, feminist internationalism, ecological internationalism, and the history of international organisations.
Assessment methods: literature review, essay
- Year 3
The Aston placement year forms an integral part of your educational journey and is compulsory for all home students. International/EU students can request permission to opt out of the placement year, but we strongly recommend that it is completed where possible.
- Final Year
- History Workshop (30 credits)
In the History Workshop, students will study and practice different styles of researching, writing, and presenting history to diverse audiences. We will explore growing and comparatively new fields such as public history and different types of online history platforms, but we will also focus on more traditional outlets and publications formats, including monographs, journal articles, and reviews. Practising and experimenting with these different styles, you will develop your skills in historical research, writing, and presentation across a variety of fields, and you are encouraged to reflect on and find your own voice as a researcher, writer, and presenter of history.
Assessment methods: two essays, presentation
- Dissertation (English or History) (30 credits)
This module aims to support you to develop, present, and complete a substantial piece of independent research. You will choose and develop your own topic through consultation with and guidance from an academic supervisor. The aim of the module is both to guide you and to provide you with the freedom to pursue a topic of your choice in great depth, thus producing a substantial piece of independent research that will prepare you for postgraduate study.
Assessment methods: presentation, dissertation (8,000 words)
Choose 30 credits (if completing English dissertation), or choose 60 credits (if completing history dissertation) from the following English option modules .
- Cognition and Style (15 credits)
- Marriage in Literature: Class, Race, Gender and Money (15 credits)
- Language and Literature in Education (15 credits)
- Ghouls, Goths and Vampires (15 credits)
- Leadership and Management Communication (15 credits)
- Advanced Leadership and Management Communication (15 credits)
- Language Contact and Globalisation (15 credits)
- Advanced Corpus Linguistics (15 credits)
- Reading and Wellbeing (15 credits)
- Learning English (15 credits)
- Creative Writing (15 credits)
- Language as Evidence (15 credits)
- Child Language Development (15 credits)
Choose 30 credits (if completing English dissertation) from the following history option modules.
- Twin Periods: The Interwar Years and post-1989 History (15 credits)
In this module, we will explore similarities, resemblances, and parallels between the interwar years (1919–1939) and the post-1989 period. We will examine the beginnings of both eras, which were marked by major victories of Western liberal powers over central and eastern European authoritarian regimes. We will then investigate why the initial enthusiasm following victory did not hold but instead gave rise to years marked by economic crisis (Wall Street crash in 1929 and the global financial crisis in 2008/9). Finally, we will discuss similarities between the nationalist turn of international politics from the late 1920s and the rise of right-wing and populist political movements in the past decade.
Assessment methods: presentation, essay
- Bullets, Bombs and Bitcoin: History and Technology since 1990 (15 credits)
This module aims to enable students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of history through the lens of technological development and its interactions with the world around us. Case studies will include the evolution of the internet, the history of smart cities, industrial revolutions, the development of technological modernity and how people reacted to it.
Assessment methods: fixed time window examination
- Rage, Shame, and Hope: Emotions and Politics from the 19th to the 21st Century (15 credits)
How can one understand the history of revolutions and wars without thinking about rage and honour? How can one describe discrimination without discussing shame? This course explores the field of “history of emotions,” analysing how these can be used as a category of historical analysis. It also investigates how emotions are defined; how they changed over time; how they varied depending on constructed notions of gender, class, race, and space; and how they affected historical developments.
Assessment methods: coursework, presentation
- Teaching History in the 21st Century (15 credits)
“Who controls the past controls the future,” says George Orwell. But who controls the past? This module explores the past, present and future of history education. It looks at a wide range of teaching practices, including schools, universities, museums and public history, in both local and international context. Students’ individual interests will determine the module content. Whether you are considering a career in teaching, want to build skills for educational outreach and lifelong learning, or if you are just curious about the subject, everyone is welcome.
Assessment methods: practical teaching session, teaching observations
Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.
- A Levels
BBC (standard offer)
BCC (with EPQ or Core Maths minimum grade B)
BCC (contextual offer*)
29 points overall with grades 5, 5, 4 in 3 higher level subjects.
Standard level Maths and English grade 4 required in lieu of GCSE English and Maths grade C/4.
- BTEC, Access & other
BTEC Extended Diploma – DDM (standard offer)
The University also accepts the BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate/BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma and BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/BTEC Level 3 Diploma for entry onto degree programmes, provided that they are studied in combination with other qualifications that are equivalent to three full A2 Levels.
We accept the QAA-recognised Access Diploma which must consist of 45 credits at Level 3. You must obtain a minimum of 30 distinction and the rest must be at merit or distinction. Please note that we do not accept the English and Maths components within the Access qualification and you must meet the GCSE entry requirement.
- T Levels
The following T levels are accepted qualifications for this course:
- T-Level - Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction Grade D
- T-Level - Digital Production, Design and Production Grade D
- T-Level – Education and Childcare Grade D
- T-Level – Onsite Construction Grade D
- T-Level – Building Services Engineering for Construction Grade D
- T-Level – Digital Business Services Grade D
- T-Level – Digital Support Services Grade D
- T-Level – Health Grade D
- T-Level – Healthcare Science Grade D
- T-Level – Science Grade D
GCSE Maths – grade C/4
GCSE English Language or English Literature – grade C/4
- Learn more about admission to this course
Whilst the grades listed here are our entry requirements, we understand that predicted grades are only an estimate. We will therefore consider applicants with predicted grades that fall below these entry requirements if the application is of a high standard (however, initial offers will not be lower than stated above).
Entry onto our Foundation Programme may be offered as an alternative to the degree course if lower entry grades are achieved. Aston University welcomes applications from students with a wide range of qualifications from the UK and overseas, including combinations of qualifications. If your qualifications are not listed here and you wish to check whether they meet the entry requirements for this course, please contact the university.
Please note that General Studies does not contribute towards the UCAS points requirement but is welcomed as an additional qualification.
Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements.
For more information about qualifications view our Aston in your country webpage.
Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston. Find out more.
*For details on our Aston Ready contextual offer scheme, please see here.
Learning, teaching and assessment
What you’ll learn
You will engage in a range of learning activities including lectures, tutorials, seminars, e-seminars, group work, project work, and independent study. Many of your modules will be taught in a seminar format, bridging theoretical input with practical activities, and allowing you to develop your understanding in discussion with your tutor and fellow students. You will complete a major piece of independent research (a dissertation) in the final year.
At university, there is a much stronger emphasis on reading and on your own private, independent study than at pre-degree level. The University offers training courses in study skills, and the Library’s Learning Development Centre provides one-to-one instruction, workshops and study guides for academic research and writing. You will be allocated a personal tutor who can provide you with help and advice throughout your studies.
To help you manage your learning, we set out your work for the year in a standardised online learning environment, which provides full details of all modules, including week-by-week breakdowns, reading lists and all coursework assignments for the year.
Assessment is through a combination of exams, coursework, essays, portfolios, presentations, and an extended dissertation in your Final Year. Exams take place in January and May/June.
The course will develop your communication, critical thinking, team working and presentation skills - all of which are in high demand by employers. What’s more, you’ll undertake an integrated placement year during the course to further boost your employability.
Dr Volker Prott (History)
Dr Robbie Love (English)
Fees and scholarships
UK students (2024/25)
Annual tuition fees: £9,250
During placement year: £1,250
International/EU students (2024/25)
Annual tuition fees: TBC
During placement year: £2,500
The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as home students. Further information can be found here.
Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.
At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs. Find out more about our scholarships here.
History graduates go on to a range of professions with recent roles including Academic Librarian, Archivist, Broadcast Journalist, Conservation Officer, Editorial assistant, Civil Service Administrator, Heritage Manager, Human Resources Officer, Marketing Trainee, Museum Education Officer, Museum/Gallery Curator, Policy Officer, Research Assistant, Solicitor and Languages Teacher. English graduates go on to a variety of professions in industries including publishing, marketing, education, journalism, entertainment, politics, and law.
Recent graduates have gone on to work at companies including IBM, Interserve, Capgemini, Virgin Active, and the BBC.
Aston University was recognised as the 'Best University Placement Service'.
The Careers and Placements team at Aston University won the 'Best University Placement Service' category at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards 2022. This was achieved by launching Virtual Employability Festivals and recognising the power of peer-to-peer communication by pairing 500 students looking for placements with 500 students who had completed placements.
Frequently asked questions
- Why study history?
Why study history? Isn’t it a bit narrow? Dr Brian Sudlow, a history lecturer at Aston University, explains the benefits of studying history.
- Why study History and English at Aston University?
Employed Aston University English graduates earn £5,300 (23 per cent) more than the UK average, five years after graduating (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2021). English at Aston University was ranked 2nd in the UK for ‘graduate prospects’ (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2021). A whole range of potential careers are available after graduating, across the public, private, and third sectors.
- Why do a placement year at Aston University?
The innovative Aston University placement year offers the chance to apply your learning in a work or study placement in the UK or overseas. Whether you choose to study abroad or do a work placement, Aston University’s links with employers and universities around the world mean you will have a wide range of options to boost your employability and explore the world of work. Our work placements give you the opportunity to apply what you have learnt on your course while gaining valuable professional and paid experience. It can enhance your graduate employment prospects and help you to make more informed career decisions. Around one in five of our placement students are offered graduate jobs by their placement employer.
- Why should international students choose Aston University?
Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students. Students from over 120 different countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study – it is also a great place to live.
Aston University’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence, and opportunities, and as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career.
Choosing to start your Aston University journey with our Foundation Programme in Social Sciences will help you develop specialist knowledge to ensure that you are fully prepared to study your chosen undergraduate course.