History (BA)


Stimulate your historical imagination by gaining a BA History degree by distance learning

Designed to excite and stimulate your imagination, the BA History provides a structured route into the past in all its guises. The diverse subject matter ranges from an introduction to ancient philosophy to civil rights in 1960s America, and from ethnicity, identity and citizenship in modern British life to the interpretation and writing of history.

This programme will enable you to:

  • expand your knowledge and understanding of the past, and reflect on the diversity of past human experience
  • gain a critical insight into the range of interpretations, theories and approaches that historians have adopted and tested over time
  • cultivate a broad range of skills which are highly valued by employers, such as the ability to think critically, assess evidence of many kinds and express ideas with precision. These skills can be transferred to many different careers or provide a grounding for further academic study.
Key dates  
Application deadline 20 October in the year before you intend to sit your first exams
Registration deadline 30 November
Start studying Study materials are usually available from mid-August
Examinations take place May

Prestige and career progression

The programme has been developed by academics within the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Royal Holloway's History Department is currently ranked 12th in the UK in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

Studying history will equip you with a broad range of skills, including critical thinking and writing,  that can be tranferred to many different careers. History graduates can go on to be anything from advertising executives to journalists, teachers to museum curators.

Flexible study period, flexible payment

The BA in History has a modular structure comprising different courses taken over three stages. The fastest that you can complete the degree is three years although the rules allow you to take up to eight years if you prefer to study at a slower pace.

You can either pay the total fee in advance (£13,942) or choose to pay a one-off registration fee when you first register and then a single fee for each course that you take.


Structure and Syllabus

The BA degree in History is divided into 3 stages, each comprising 120 credits.

To complete the degree you have to take the equivalent of 360 credits.

Stage 1 – 120 credits
Stage 2 – 120 credits
Stage 3 – 120 credits

Note: If you choose a Group D (dissertation) course, you must also take the corresponding Group E (examination) course. Group D (dissertation) and Group E (examination) courses follow the same syllabus for each subject, but are assessed using different methods. Not all courses will necessarily be available in every year.

Study materials

How you study

The BA History is offered through distance and flexible learning.

We supply learning materials which are specially designed by University of London academics for self-directed study. You also have access to a significant array of online resources including a fully supported virtual learning environment and online library.

The materials guide you through the syllabus for each course and direct your reading of the textbooks, study packs and library resources.

Virtual learning environment (VLE)

The VLE is like a virtual classroom that we use to deliver the content of the degree through the internet. It provides everything you need to study and to help you manage your learning. The VLE allows you to:

  • access your study materials
  • take part in discussions and seminars with your tutor and other students
  • exchange ideas with fellow students on the course and organise mutual support via email
  • receive notices, seminar dates, dissertation support and other programme-related information.

Study support

Other ways of engaging in online networking and communication include:

  • Online seminars - all courses on the BA History feature a number of online seminars. These are regular, formal, asynchronous discussions that are led by a tutor.
  • Course tutor - the tutor is available to support the course from the time you register through to your examination. We expect you to take part in between three and seven seminars for each course that you study. The seminars take place on set dates usually over a period of about two weeks.
  • Peer to peer support - you can exchange ideas with your fellow students and organise mutual support via email.
  • Student cafe - an informal space within the VLE where you can socialise.

Study materials

We will provide you with the core study materials you need to complete the programme. When you register, we will provide you with:

  • Access to the VLE and University of London Online Library
  • Textbooks (for some courses)
  • The Arts Good Study Guide through the Online Library
  • Programme handbook
  • Guide to the International Programmes
  • Regulations
  • Past examination papers
  • Student registration card.

Sample study material

You are welcome to download the sample course overview and introduction for the course in British Social and Economic History 1945-1997:



The fees below relate to the 2017-2018 session and are subject to annual review.

Academic year2017-2018
Registration fee£ 1,102
Half course fee£ 535
Full course fee£ 1,070
Double course fee (Group C courses)£ 2,140
TOTAL BA£ 13,942
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

When to pay

You can pay fees for BA History in one of two ways: either, on registration, make a single payment covering the registration fee and all course fees, or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, you can pay the registration fee plus the fee for each course you take in your first year and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new course you take.

The registration fee and course fees are payable by the closing date for registrations 30 November.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order

Further details are given in payment methods.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for:

  • textbooks (this may well be in the region of £300 for each of the three Stages)
  • the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.



At Stage 1, each 15 credit course is assessed by one two-hour written examination. At Stages 2 and 3, each course is assessed by a three-hour written examination, except for the Group D courses which are assessed by a dissertation of 10,000 words. Examinations take place once a year, usually in May. 

You do not have to come to London to take your examinations as we have examination centres around the world, as well as in London. Examinations are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. Your local examination centre will charge you a fee to cover its costs. This fee will vary from centre to centre. For further information please see the assessment and examinations pages of our website.

As well as the formal assessment outlined above, you are strongly encouraged to submit written assignments to be marked by tutors. The assignments are completed on a voluntary basis and do not contribute to your final mark, but do provide an excellent opportunity to review your progress and get feedback from Royal Holloway on your understanding of the subject matter.


Academic Requirements

To be eligible for the BA History you must

*Applications will be considered from applicants who do not meet the normal minimum age requirement for admission. Each application will be considered on an individual basis, and the decision taken at the discretion of the University of London.

If you are not automatically eligible then you will be individually considered by the Admissions Panel. The Admissions Panel will consider qualifications which are not published under the Qualifications for Entrance Schedule, incomplete qualifications (e.g. diplomas / degrees) and substantial relevant work experience. If we cannot accept you with your current qualifications and experience, we will advise you what qualifications you could take in order to become eligible in the future.

English language requirement

The language of instruction, reading and assessment is English. To succeed on our programmes you need a good level of competence in English. If you doubt your ability in written or spoken English we advise you take a course and test in English language before enrolling on the programme.

Required standard of English

You will usually meet the English language requirement for undergraduate programmes if you:

  • hold a UK GCSE / GCE O level in English at grade C or above
  • have five years secondary schooling taught solely in English or have passed GCE A levels or IB in essay-based subjects
  • have passed an International Foundation programme that permits entry onto a recognised UK bachelor degree
  • hold a full Postgraduate award, or a full first degree or Associate degree taught and examined in English from an institute that is acceptable to the University
  • have passed, within the past three years, an Associate degree, Diploma or Higher Diploma awarded by an acceptable institute / polytechnic / university in Hong Kong, Malaysia or Singapore, or
  • have passed, within the past three years, a test of proficiency in English language from an organisation acceptable to the University.

Where an applicant does not meet the required English language level but believes they can demonstrate the required level for admission the University may, at its discretion, consider the application.

Please note if an applicant satisfies one of the above conditions yet provides evidence of a test of proficiency in English language, awarded within the past three years, which is below the University’s minimum requirements then they will be required to retake such a test before being offered admission.

Accreditation of prior learning

If you have studied a syllabus as part of a previous qualification which is comparable in level, content and standard, you might not have to take a particular course as part of your University of London International Programmes degree if we believe that the subject has been covered to the same breadth and depth. This is called Accreditation of prior learning or APL. It is also sometimes known as Credit Transfer or Exemption.

APL may be awarded for up to four full courses at Level 1. For more information about APL please see the APL section of the website.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

Royal Holloway - The Department of History

Royal Holloway [external website] is ranked among the top research-led universities in the UK. It is an innovative and forward-looking institution, acknowledged worldwide for cutting-edge research and excellent teaching. Originally founded in 1886, Royal Holloway is today the third largest multidisciplinary College of the University of London.

The Department of History [external website] has more than 30 research-active staff and over 100 PhD students, making it the largest History department in the University of London and one of the largest in the United Kingdom. The Department is rated in the top national assessment category for teaching and is recognised as world-leading in its research.

Academic leaders

Dr Emmett Sullivan - Programme Director

Emmett Sullivan is the Senior Departmental Tutor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is responsible for the Department’s distance learning provision and the undergraduate research methods and economic history courses. Employed at Royal Holloway for the past 15 years, Emmett previously worked at VUW (New Zealand), La Trobe (Melbourne, Australia), the ANU (Canberra, Australia) and Leicester University, and holds a doctoral degree from the economics programme at the ANU.


Apply online

History Lecture Taster: Gandhi: Saint or politician?

Sarah Ansari, Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London, speaks about Gandhi's reputation as both 'saint' and 'politician', and how understanding both can help us to contextualise his role in the struggle for Indian freedom from colonial rule.