History

BA (Hons)

Critical thinkers, cultural navigators and master communicators - our history graduates are ready to shape the future by understanding the past.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type
Full-time
Entry requirements

BBC (standard offer)

BCC (contextual offer)

Duration

3 or 4 years

UCAS code(s)

V100

Start date

Course overview

The BA (Hons) History programme at Aston University offers an engaging exploration of the past during the modern and contemporary period (since 1789). The course is designed to cultivate critical thinking, research skills, and a deep understanding of historical contexts.

Working closely with experienced historians at every stage, you will follow classes in a wide range of fields including global and British history, history of international relations, history of technology, history of emotions, and the history of slavery.

Each year, alongside your other modules, you will take at least one practice-based module that invites you to get your hands dirty outside the lecture room in a local archive or other heritage institution. These modules are what we call our ‘employability spine’. Thus, as you grow your expertise as a historian, you will be boosting your employment prospects by acquiring real-world knowledge and skills.

Opting for the placement year will also provide you with invaluable real-world experience, preparing you for the job market.

History and International Relations student, Aiyesha Swarnn

“My course was amazing. I learnt a lot of skills ranging from research to analytical skills. I made great friends who supported me throughout my time at Aston, and the lectures also provided me with great help and support. I was excited to graduate as I had learnt so much and was ready to apply what I had learnt to the real world!”

Aiyesha Swarnn
BSc (Hons) History and International Relations
Co-editor, Journal of Intersectional Social Justice

Why History at Aston University?

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Excellent prospects
Aston University was named runner-up in the University of the Year for Graduate Employment Award (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024)
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Opportunity to grow
100% of students felt positive about the learning opportunities available to them (History programmes; National Student Survey, 2023)
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Earn more
Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, earning on average £36,100 five years after graduating (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2023)
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Safe in our hands
100% of students felt positive about the academic support they received (History programmes; National Student Survey, 2023)
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Gold standard teaching
Aston University was awarded Gold - the highest possible rating for the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2023)

Course description

BA (Hons) History

Our BA (Hons) History degree at Aston University will equip you with the expertise, in-depth knowledge, and practical insights needed to challenge and evaluate what people say about history and contribute to how society today understands itself in the light of the past.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK’s second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will inspire and excite you. You will benefit from applied learning, research-informed teaching and authentic assessment. As a student on this programme, you will be one of the first to know about advancements in topical research by staff across the department, even before it is published.

We are also an Adobe Creative Campus meaning you will have access to top-notch software licenses, including Adobe and Solidworks, commonly used in industry.

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies – understanding that intelligence and success come from applying yourself, a willingness to learn and an ambition and drive to excel. 

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What skills we teach
We will help you refine your historical insight whilst building crucial research, analytical and critical thinking skills. You will untangle intricate stories and grasp societal changes, becoming a perceptive, culturally aware thinker ready to excel in various careers.

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Placement year
We all know that taking a placement year will boost your employability – it’s what makes Aston University graduates some of the most employable in the country. It’s for this reason that we encourage every student to take one. The placement year gives you the chance to put theory into practice, gain relevant work experience, and develop professional and transferable skills.

The placement year is optional for BA (Hons) History students. Even if you choose not to opt for the placement year, you will benefit from the practice-based modules in our ‘employability spine’ that will equip you with real-world knowledge and skills.

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Career prospects
As an Aston University history graduate, you will be equipped for a range of different career options. Our recent graduates have gone on to work across the public, private and third sectors for organisations including: Birmingham City Council, Civil Service, IBM, West Midlands Police, Lidl.

How you will learn

At Aston University, you will learn history through immersive experiences, not just textbooks. You will engage in lively discussions, analyse primary sources and explore diverse viewpoints. Study trips, digital tools and hands-on projects will bring history to life. Our interactive approach fosters deep understanding and critical thinking, making learning an exciting journey.

You will be involved in lectures, tutorials, seminars, e-seminars, small group work, project work and independent study. Many of your modules will be in a workshop format, alternating theoretical input with practical analysis and allowing you to test out your understanding in discussion with other students and your tutor. There are also opportunities for group and collaborative work.

Applied modules and the option for a placement year will provide hands-on experience and enable you to explore everyday issues, preparing you to tackle the complexities of a rapidly changing world. At the start of your course, you will be allocated a personal tutor who can offer individual study advice and guidance. You will also benefit from access to the University Library's extensive collection of over 25,000 books and electronic journals.

What you will learn

Driven by the needs of industry and individuals, our course provides you with a comprehensive understanding of key historical concepts and an ability to critically analyse these, alongside the opportunity to specialise in areas of history that interest you.

First year

In the first year, you will learn to utilise various resources and digital tools effectively. You will critically analyse primary and secondary sources, handle historical materials and engage with diverse historiographical approaches, dissecting modern historical debates. You will undertake your first practice-based module and engage with archives or museums in the city.

Second year

With the fundamentals mastered in the first year, your second year will see you delve more deeply into global histories, history of technology and history of slavery. You will master historical methods, navigate digital technologies, engage with local debates and conduct more practice-based research, this time about Birmingham and the Midlands.

Placement year

The placement year is optional for BA (Hons) History students. While we recognise the significant employability benefits that come with opting for a placement year, it's important to highlight that for this programme it's entirely your choice. Aston University graduates are renowned for their employability, and we highly recommend considering a placement year. Our award-winning careers and placements team are on hand to support you through every step of your placement journey.

Final year

In final year, you will take our flagship module History Workshop, learning about public exhibitions, history-based VR experiences and digital stories, alongside other genres. Your dissertation will address complex historical issues and train you to craft compelling and original arguments. You can also choose from a range of optional modules.

Bart Stawera history and international relations student

My placement year at City Year UK

Bart Stawera spoke to us and reflected on his placement experience and his journey after graduating.

Course objectives

  1. Prepares you for a range of careers through an employability spine, offering real-life work experience, regular contacts with potential employers, authentic assessments, and transferrable skills such as critical thinking, oral and written communication, high-end creativity, teamwork, project management, digital skills, and data management.
  2. Enhances your resilience in a continuously changing world of work through a deep understanding of historical development, and the role of human, political, social, cultural, and economic factors therein.
  3. Develops your problem-solving skills by highlighting crucial junctures in history and the way humans have confronted crises such as war, poverty, and violations of human rights.
  4. Develops your intellectual and cognitive skills by engaging with, reflecting on, and effectively handling ambivalences, contradictions, and complexities of modern historical developments across different global regions, including the history of the Global South, Black History, and the evolution of science and technology.
  5. Develops your critical and research skills by enabling you to find, assess, contextualise, and critically engage with various types of primary source (including archival) materials, using methods of data analysis, processing and interpretation, including approaches in digital history.
  6. Enables you to develop and carry out independent historical research projects and to find your own voice as researchers, writers, and presenters of history.
  7. Enables you to apply and transform your historical knowledge into different formats and platforms, with an emphasis on digital skills (e.g. by producing virtual exhibitions, policy briefs, websites, apps, and podcasts).
  8. Provides you with the skills to identify, analyse, and effectively communicate about key historical events and processes since ca. 1800, with an emphasis on British and Global History, including often neglected yet important topics such as slavery and Indian partition.

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Year 1 modules

In your first year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Global History in Perspective15
Making Histories I: Methods, Theories, Controversies30
Contemporary Britain: from the Boer War to Brexit15
Archive and Museum Project15
War and Genocide15
Inventions, Discoveries, and Cures: Science, Technology, and Medicine since 175015
Total105

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Identities and Inequalities I15
Introduction to Social Theory15
Introduction to Discourse Analysis15
The Novel through Time15
Rewriting Shakespeare15
Law for Business15
Introduction to Marketing Management15

*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.

Year 1 outcomes

On successful completion of the first year, you will be able to:

  • Access a variety of audio-visual, manuscript paper, and electronic resources, and use a variety of digital tools appropriately for the retrieval and presentation of information.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the difference between primary and secondary sources and the ability to interrogate, read, analyse, and reflect critically and contextually upon a variety of primary and secondary materials.
  • Demonstrate experience in handling and critically reflecting on primary historical materials in archival, digital, and other contexts.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with history as an academic discipline and engage critically with a range of historiographical approaches and arguments.
  • Develop and sustain arguments in a variety of forms, formulating appropriate questions and analysis.
  • Communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably, with structured and coherent arguments, and appropriately to different audiences.
  • Work collaboratively and participate in group work, as well as work independently and manage time.
  • Demonstrate awareness of important social, cultural, and political forces and trends in modern history and the ability to use concepts such as nationalism, modernity, genocide, or technological change to examine modern historical developments.
  • Identify key events and developments in contemporary British history and to place these in a wider international context.
  • Interrogate common perceptions and misrepresentations of historical topics and engage with public historical debates.

Year 2 modules

In your second year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Case Studies in Global History30
Making Histories II15
Humanitarian Action and Foreign Intervention, 1915 - Today15
The Atlantic World: Slavery and Emancipation15
Bullets, Bombs, and Bitcoin: History and Technology since 190015
Birmingham and Midlands History Project15
Total105

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
East Asian Politics and Society: China and Japan15
North American Politics and Society15
South Asian Politics and Society15
West European Politics and Society15
Politics and Society of the Middle East15
Post-apocalyptic Fiction15
Literature in Film15
Professional Communication15
Health and Society15

*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.

Year 2 outcomes

On successful completion of the second year, you will be able to:

  • Examine in depth historical cases from different global regions and make meaningful comparisons between them.
  • Assess and critically reflect on global and international historical issues and processes such as transatlantic slavery, colonial rule and decolonisation, humanitarian politics, and technological change, including the ability to challenge Western-centric approaches.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of historical methods and methodologies and the ability to apply these to different contexts.
  • Find, engage with, and critically juxtapose secondary academic literature on specific fields of historical research.
  • Critically reflect on the chances and risks of digital technologies and the ability to work effectively and responsibly with them.
  • Demonstrate awareness of current historical topics and debates within Birmingham and the Midlands.
  • Collaborate with others to plan and carry out historical research and present results orally and in concise, accessible written format.
  • Communicate their own research findings effectively in different formats to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

 

Placement year modules

The placement year is optional for BA (Hons) History students.

If you opt for an integrated placement year, you will spend your third year on placement. You will be fully supported throughout the process by our award-winning Careers and Placements team.

Placement year

Module TitleCredits
Integrated Placement Year120

Placement year outcomes

On successful completion of the placement year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate increasing personal and professional development through a placement, domestically or overseas, and ability to articulate their application and potential transfer through applied reflection.
  • Apply your knowledge, skills, and competencies within a real work-based situation, or in a foreign context.
  • Manage future learning and reflect upon own learning and development.
  • Reflect on the practical applications of subject knowledge.

Final year modules

In your final year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Dissertation (History)30
History Workshop30
Total60

You will choose four of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Twin Periods? The Interwar Years and post-1989 History15
Teaching History in the 21st Century15
Emotions, International Politics, and Culture, from the 19th Century to the Present15
Reinventing the World: Industrial and Technological Transitions15
The History of Internationalism: From Karl Marx to Greta Thunberg15
The History and Politics of Decolonisation15
Contemporary Social Movements15
Creative Writing15

*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.

Final year outcomes

On successful completion of the final year, you will be able to:

  • Design, research, and present a sustained and independently conceived piece of writing within the framework of a structured research project.
  • Identify, evaluate, and effectively engage with contradictory historical evidence, conflicting viewpoints, and historical controversies.
  • Assess and analyse complex historical problems from multiple perspectives, drawing on a range of primary and secondary sources, and using a variety of relevant tools and methodologies to derive compelling and original explanations and arguments.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a broad range of genres of historical writing and communication and the ability to apply your research skills in diverse practical formats, such as exhibitions, documentaries, policy briefs, virtual reality installations, websites, or databases.
  • Demonstrate digital literacy and the ability to use and combine a range of digital tools for researching historical issues and producing real-world outputs.
  • Demonstrate command of professional communication skills, such as public speaking in academic and non-academic contexts, teaching and moderating debates, working with others effectively, and producing concise pieces of historical research catering to diverse specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Demonstrate effective project management skills, from identifying relevant historical problems and research design to planning the implementation of the project and completing it towards a deadline.
  • Place present-day cultural, political, technological, and social developments in a historical context and thus effectively contribute to current debates.
  • Speak with your own voice as a researcher, writer, and presenter of history on a variety of issues pertaining to contemporary British and global history.

Entry requirements

  • A Levels

    BBC (standard offer)
    BCC (with EPQ or Core Maths minimum grade B)
    BCC (contextual offer)

  • Contextual offers

    Aston Ready is our contextual offer scheme that could reduce your undergraduate offer by one or two grades. Assessed at the point of application, there are no additional forms to fill in.

Contextual offer criteria

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.

29 points overall in the IB diploma with grades 5,5,4 in 3 higher level subjects.

You must also have Standard Level grade 4 in Mathematics and grade 5 in English Language.

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.

 

The following T Levels are accepted qualifications for this course:

  • Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction - grade D
  • Digital Production, Design and Production - grade D
  • Education and Childcare - grade D
  • Onsite Construction - grade D
  • Building Services Engineering for Construction - grade D
  • Digital Business Services - grade D
  • Digital Support Services - grade D
  • Health - grade D
  • Healthcare Science - grade D
  • Science - grade D
  • Accounting - grade D
  • Finance - grade D
  • Management and administration - grade D
  • Design and development for engineering and manufacturing - grade D 
  • Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing - grade D
  • Legal Services - grade D 

GCSE Maths – grade C/4

GCSE English Language or English Literature – grade C/4

Year 1 entry: We may consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a first year degree elsewhere. You must meet the GCSEs and A Level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.
Year 2 entry: Please note that second year transfers are not part of the standard admissions process and is up to the discretion of the admissions team and tutor. Applications are only considered if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, applicants for second year entry must meet the GCSEs and A Level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have successfully passed (or be expected to pass) your first year with 120 credits on an equivalent programme at another recognised university with very similar module content. The equivalency of the programme is reviewed by the Admissions Tutor and you will be required to provide an official copy of the programme specification of this. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.
Year 3 entry onwards: We will not be able to consider any application for Year 3 or final year. 

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our undergraduate programmes. Students from over 120 countries choose 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.

Qualifications in your country

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

International students can enter at Year 2 of this course having completed an undergraduate year one programme at the required academic level with approved teaching partners ONCAMPUS Aston or NCUK.

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.

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.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

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.

Graduate Immigration Route

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£9,250
During placement year:£1,250

International students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£18,250
During placement year:£2,500

More information on fees

For Home students: Tuition fees for UK/Home students may change in line with government policy.

For International students: The International students fee is a fixed annual fee for the duration of the Programme, except whilst on placement when a placement year fee applies.

Scholarships

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.

Explore our scholarships 

Assessment

You will be assessed through a combination of written and oral examinations, class tests, individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments. Special emphasis will be placed on authentic assessment.

Career prospects

Our BA (Hons) History programme will prepare you for a range of careers across the public, private and third sectors. Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, according to the 2023 Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO). This data shows that five years after graduation, employed Aston University graduates have the 15th highest median salary among all UK Higher Education Institutions, with a median salary of £36,100.

The transferable skills that our history programmes provide mean that our graduates are successful in finding employment in a wide range of roles such as:

  • Area manager
  • English language tutor
  • Tax specialist
  • Journal editor
  • Marketing executive
  • Research assistant
  • Media researcher
L'myah Sherae - Politics and Sociology graduate

One of the best decisions I made

L’myah Sherae knew she wanted to work in race relations and politics from a young age. She completed her placement year at the Houses of Parliament and now runs her own political campaigns company.

Our students achieve some amazing things during their time with us and after they graduate - whether it's setting up their own businesses, landing competitive graduate schemes, or making real differences within their communities.

Hear from our graduates

Alumni

Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.
 

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.

Read more

How will a placement year benefit me?

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.

Find out more

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

 

Register your interest