History (BA)

Overview

Incite, energise and stimulate your historical imagination by gaining a BA History degree by distance learning

Designed to incite, energise and stimulate your historical 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 about 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 1 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 out of 92 History and History of Art departments in the country, according to the 2012 Guardian University Guide.

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

You have between 3-8 years to complete the programme, which consists of 12 courses. You can choose to pay the total fee in advance (£12,044) or pay as you go (a one-off registration fee plus a fee for each course studied).

Structure

Structure and Syllabus

The BA degree in History is divided into 3 levels. Choose the equivalent of 4 full courses from each level. Courses can be half courses, full courses or double courses. To complete the degree you have to take the equivalent of 12 full courses.

Level 1

Two half Foundation courses from
History and meanings (Half Foundation course)

This course looks at how the understanding of historical time has developed in different societies, and how the interpretation and writing of history has evolved over the centuries.

State, society and the individual in the non-western world (Half Foundation course)

This course looks at changes and continuities in the social framework and fundamental concepts of the non-western world during the 19th and 20th centuries. It focuses particularly on five main areas: the modernisation of the state; the re-ordering of society; the role of religion; the nature of the family and the role of women; the development of individualism.

British social and economic history 1945-97 (Half Foundation course)

This half course will consider aspects of British social and economic history 1945‐97, and the focus will be on the basics necessary to help students understand the nature and workings of economies at the national level, and formation of economic and social policy by governments. This will be done through consideration of some of the recurring themes in modern economic and social history ‐ growth, labour supply, overseas trade and national accounting. The course will also introduce students to aspects of social science and quantitative methods they may not have come across before, which are particularly relevant to twentieth century history. A range of different authors and approaches within the field of economic and social history will be used to achieve this, to broaden students’ understanding of the interaction between economic and social policy and the well-being of the nation.

Level 1

Plus three full Gateway courses from
Conflict and identity in the modern world from 1789 to the present day (Gateway course)

This course aims to introduce students to a variety of approaches to modern history. It takes a thematic path through such topics as revolution, imperialism, war and social change, nationalism, ethnicity and gender. It covers both Europe and the non-European world, and puts its emphasis on new approaches and new interpretations.

The birth of western Christendom AD 300-1215 (Gateway course)

This course looks at the inter-relation of church, society and government in a key period of the evolution of Europe. The main themes are: the formation of the Christian Roman Empire; the place of the Church in the new era of the early-medieval successor states; the role of Christianity in the transmission of culture; the empire of Charlemagne; the challenge to Christian Europe from the Vikings; the nature of kingly authority; and the revival of learning and literacy in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance.

Republics, kings and people: the foundations of modern political culture (Gateway course)

This course investigates the origins of our ideas about human rights and duties, revolution and democracy, consent and liberty, etc. A number of key writings are studied: ranging from Plato and Aristotle in the ancient world to Machiavelli, More, Hobbes, Locke and the Enlightenment in the transition from the early modern to the modern world. Analysis of the development of fundamental ideas about politics and society through these examples sharpens the mind and throws light upon the present in the perspective of the past.

The rich tapestry of life: A social and cultural history of Europe c. 1500-1780 (Gateway course)

This course aims to direct students to some of the most exciting writing in the recent social history of early modern Europe; to introduce students, week by week, to analytic concepts (space, gender, status, identity, etc.); and to familiarise students with primary source material. Topics covered will include masculinity, femininity, sexuality, violence, poverty, life and death, body and mind. The unit does not purport to provide a complete coverage of social history in the period, nor indeed of European history between c. 1500 and 1780, and it draws on material from both Continental Europe and England.

Level 2

Three Group A courses from
From nation state to multiple monarchy: British history, 1485-1649 (Group A)

This course aims to provide a survey, largely political and religious, of the history of England from the accession of Henry VII to the execution of Charles I. Focusing mostly on England in the 15th and 16th centuries, it broadens to include Scotland after the Union of the Crowns in 1603. Wales and Ireland are also discussed where relevant to the main narrative. The principal themes considered are the political changes wrought by the successive dynasties of Tudors and Stuarts, and the opposition they aroused; the chronology and pattern of religious developments with the coming of the Reformation; the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne and its consequences; the impact of demographic, agrarian and commercial developments; the origins, outbreak and course of the ‘British civil wars’, concluding with the execution of the king and the abolition of the House of Lords.

British history 1770-1990 (Group A)

Is Britain a class-ridden society? Why does Britain still have its royal family? Is Britain culturally closer to Europe or to America? Could Britain's decline after 1945 have been averted? This course is essential for anyone wishing to understand the political, social and cultural make-up of modern Britain. It offers a broad survey of modern British history, from the reign of King George III through to the fall of Mrs Thatcher in 1990, through the prism of five underlying themes: politics, society, culture, gender and national identities. In doing so it seeks to guide students through the formative events of modern British history, and introduce them to the main historical controversies and debates. Among topics covered are British reactions to the French Revolution, Victoria and the re-invention of the British monarchy, the rise (and fall?) of the Labour party, the Irish question, Appeasement in the 1930s, the impact of two world wars on twentieth-century Britain, and the legacy of the 'Swinging Sixties'. Take this unit to learn why the future Napoleon III served as a British police constable in 1848, to discover which Victorian Premier roamed the streets at night to carry out 'rescue-work' with prostitutes, to understand who or what a 'flapper' was, and to find out why feminist activists lobbed flour-bombs at Bob Hope in 1970. Or simply take this unit to be better able to understand the complexities of the society in which we live today.

Modern times: international economic history c.1901-1990 (Group A)

This course covers the economic developments affecting the UK and the wider world in the twentieth century. The first term is devoted to the UK; topics covered include the Edwardian period and the First World War; the long post-1945 boom; the problems of the 1970s and 1980s; and the Major and Blair years. The second term covers the same period, but extends the discussion to cover the wider developments in the world economy, with particular reference to the ending of free trade and the rise of economic protection in the 1930s, and the factors making for the reconstruction and revival of the world economy since 1945, culminating in the recent performance and problems affecting the world economy since the 1980s.

Twentieth century world history (Group A)

This course can be considered in two parts. The first part looks at the major political developments that took place in different parts of Asia during the twentieth century, focusing on China, Japan, Southeast Asia and South Asia. It explores the impact of imperialism, nationalism, decolonisation, and independence in order to understand the resurgence of Asian nations by the end of the 1990s. The second part looks at the history of the non-western twentieth-century world from the vantage point of developments in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. From empire-building to de-colonization and revolution in the Middle East, to intersections between politics and race in Southern Africa, to radical movements and US intervention in Latin America, much of what it explores complements the first part of the course by making sense of political developments in other continents where the long term trends were both similar but, in some ways, noticeably different.

US history since 1877 (Group A)

This course offers an overview of US history since 1877. It examines the social, cultural, economic and political contours of that history, incorporating topics such as westward expansion, industrialisation and urbanization, the progressive era, the First World War, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the Cold War, domestic developments in the 1960s and 1970s, and the rise of the New Right in the 1980s. It concludes with a contemporary examination of US foreign and domestic policy. Particular attention is given to the shaping experiences of race, ethnicity, gender and class in the American experience.

Level 2

Plus one Group B course from
The Crusades and the eastern Mediterranean 1095-1291

The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This unit is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well. The reaction of these groups to the crusades and the development of their relationship with the settlers is an integral part of the subject. The ‘jihad’ became the channel for Muslim opposition and the Latins discovered that their own resources were insufficient to meet this threat and they appealed for help to Western Europe. The response and the consequences of this reaction for settlers’ tenure of the Holy Land will be analysed. The Frankish way of life will be studied; its institutions, the economic position of the Christian settlements; the role of women, and whether the Latin states represent an early form of western colonialism will be discussed. The preaching and preparation of crusading expeditions, the evolution of the crusading idea, crusading warfare and criticism of crusading will also be studied. The unit will utilize a variety of primary material from European, Byzantine, Muslim and Syriac sources in translation.

Experience, culture and identity: women’s lives in England 1688-c. 1850

This course examines the mental and material world of English women in a period of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation. It exploits the wealth of secondary literature which has appeared on the subject in recent years, and evaluates the dominant interpretations of continuity and change in women’s history. Attention focuses on the diversity of roles women played, the changing scope of female experience, and the different languages available to articulate that experience. Topics covered include: Love and Marriage, Sexuality, Masculinity, Divorce, Motherhood, Work, Consumerism, Material Culture, Print, Polite Culture, Feminism, Politics and Religion. Students will be encouraged to engage critically with the categories, modes of explanation and chronology of recent women’s history.

Ethnicity, identity and citizenship in modern British life

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the history and functioning of multi-ethnic Britain. It covers the history of immigration and settlement of minorities and explores contemporary issues which concern Black and Asian groups. Students will re-examine their own identity to understand immigrant experience and ethnic conflict. The ways in which racism and ethnicity have affected Britain and the effectiveness of public policy are covered. Ethnic groups' reaction to British society is considered.

Modern political ideas

The course examines the main currents of political thought in Modern European and World History from Rousseau to the present, e.g. The Eighteenth Century and the French Revolution; Commercial society and its enemies (Hume, Smith, Rousseau); the French Revolution (Paine, Wollstonecraft); reactions to the revolution (Hegel); The Nineteenth Century, Early socialism (Owen, Fourier, Saint Simon); Tocqueville and the American model; Marx and communism; Mill and liberalism; Nietzsche and modernity; Bakunin and anarchism; The Twentieth Century - Anti-imperialist theorists (Fanon, Gandhi); Orwell and dystopia; green political theory.

Level 3

Two Group B courses from
The Crusades and the eastern Mediterranean 1095-1291

The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This unit is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well. The reaction of these groups to the crusades and the development of their relationship with the settlers is an integral part of the subject. The ‘jihad’ became the channel for Muslim opposition and the Latins discovered that their own resources were insufficient to meet this threat and they appealed for help to Western Europe. The response and the consequences of this reaction for settlers’ tenure of the Holy Land will be analysed. The Frankish way of life will be studied; its institutions, the economic position of the Christian settlements; the role of women, and whether the Latin states represent an early form of western colonialism will be discussed. The preaching and preparation of crusading expeditions, the evolution of the crusading idea, crusading warfare and criticism of crusading will also be studied. The unit will utilize a variety of primary material from European, Byzantine, Muslim and Syriac sources in translation.

Experience, culture and identity: women’s lives in England 1688-c. 1850

This course examines the mental and material world of English women in a period of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation. It exploits the wealth of secondary literature which has appeared on the subject in recent years, and evaluates the dominant interpretations of continuity and change in women’s history. Attention focuses on the diversity of roles women played, the changing scope of female experience, and the different languages available to articulate that experience. Topics covered include: Love and Marriage, Sexuality, Masculinity, Divorce, Motherhood, Work, Consumerism, Material Culture, Print, Polite Culture, Feminism, Politics and Religion. Students will be encouraged to engage critically with the categories, modes of explanation and chronology of recent women’s history.

Ethnicity, identity and citizenship in modern British life

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the history and functioning of multi-ethnic Britain. It covers the history of immigration and settlement of minorities and explores contemporary issues which concern Black and Asian groups. Students will re-examine their own identity to understand immigrant experience and ethnic conflict. The ways in which racism and ethnicity have affected Britain and the effectiveness of public policy are covered. Ethnic groups' reaction to British society is considered.

Modern political ideas

The course examines the main currents of political thought in Modern European and World History from Rousseau to the present, e.g. The Eighteenth Century and the French Revolution; Commercial society and its enemies (Hume, Smith, Rousseau); the French Revolution (Paine, Wollstonecraft); reactions to the revolution (Hegel); The Nineteenth Century, Early socialism (Owen, Fourier, Saint Simon); Tocqueville and the American model; Marx and communism; Mill and liberalism; Nietzsche and modernity; Bakunin and anarchism; The Twentieth Century - Anti-imperialist theorists (Fanon, Gandhi); Orwell and dystopia; green political theory.

Level 3

Plus one Group C double course from
Blasphemy, irreligion and the English Enlightenment 1620-1720

This course examines the intellectual and political consequences of the radical ferment (both popular and philosophical) of ideas spawned in the English Revolution of the 1650s. The unit texts include clandestine manuscripts, like the subversive ‘Treatise of Three Imposters’ which argued that Moses, Mahomet and Christ were all religious frauds, and printed works by critics like James Harrington, Thomas Hobbes and Charles Blount. The primary objective will be to study the anticlerical, heterodox and openly irreligious components of the Republican attack upon Christianity. The second line of enquiry will explore how the attack on Christianity of the 1650s developed into a systematic rejection of all revealed religion in the later 17th century. Attention focuses upon arguments that set out to destroy the authority of the priesthood and to reject the authenticity of the Bible, as well as their accounts of ‘other religions’ like Islam and Judaism which were used to criticise Christianity.

Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement in the USA

‘Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin’, noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Baker’s perceptive comment goes to the very heart of contemporary historiographical debates. On the one hand, scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States between the 1940s and 1970s as a grassroots phenomenon that was rooted in local communities and based upon local leadership and local needs. On the other hand, scholars still emphasize the vital national leadership role played by Martin Luther King Jn, in the black struggle, particularly from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to King’s assassination at Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968. This unit looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and examine the tensions that often existed between them, by using a wide range of written, spoken and visual sources.

The clash of powers and cultures: Sino-American relations during the Cold War

This course examines the ups and downs in Sino-American relations during the Cold War. It looks at how and why Communist China and the United States were transformed from hostile enemies in the 1950s and early 1960s into tacit allies by the late 1970s. Events to be covered include their direct and indirect confrontations over Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam; the role of the Soviet Union in their changing relationship; and their divergent policies towards such issues as Third World revolutions, nuclear weapons, and international trade. At a thematic level, the course will consider how ideology, personalities, domestic considerations, cultural stereotypes, and alliance politics influenced their respective policies and the dynamics of their interactions. Students are expected to approach the subject not only from the American perspective but also from the Chinese one, by exploring both Western and Chinese (translated into English) primary sources, such as diplomatic documents, memoirs, public speeches, newspapers, and political cartoons. By placing Sino-American relations in the wider domestic and international contexts, this course will enhance our understanding of how the two great powers – and two different cultures – shaped, and were shaped by, the global Cold War.

Note: 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, project support and other programme-related information
  • ask questions regarding the administration of the programme
  • seek help for technical problems  you may encounter.

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 iedas 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:

  • CD-ROMs that direct your studies
  • Textbooks (for some courses)
  • The Arts Good Study Guide
  • Access to the VLE and University of London Online Library
  • a Programme handbook
  • a Guide to the International Programmes
  • Regulations
  • Past examination papers

We also provide all students with a student registration card.

Fees

Fees

The fees below relate to the 2014-2015 session and are subject to annual review.

Academic year2014-2015
Registration fee£ 956
Half course fee£ 462
Full course fee£ 924
Double course fee (Group C courses)£ 1,848
TOTAL BA£ 12,044
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 per year if you are taking four courses in one year);
  • tuition costs (if studying at a teaching institution);
  • the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.

Note

Fees are subject to annual review and the University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.

Assessment

Assessment

At Level 1, each half course is assessed by one two-hour written examination. At Levels 2 and 3, Group A and Group B units are assessed by one three-hour written examination. The Group C double course is assessed by one three-hour written examination and a dissertation of 10,000 words. These examinations are held 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.

Requirements

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 University of London’s Special Admissions Panel. The Special 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

All students must have regular access to a computer and the internet. This may be for accessing the Student Portal, downloading course materials from the virtual learning environment or accessing resources from the Online Library. You will also need suitable hardware capacity on your computer for document storage as well as basic software such as a PDF reader.

We recommend that you use the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome and that your screen resolution is 1024 x 768 or greater. JavaScript and cookies must be enabled to access particular online services such as the Student Portal.

Some programmes have courses or modules that use additional software. Where this is the case, information is given with the relevant course descriptions.

Leaders

Academic leaders: Royal Holloway - History

Founded in 1885, Royal Holloway is the third largest multidisciplinary College in the University and one of only a few colleges nationally which is allowed to use the ‘Royal’ title. The College enjoys an international reputation for the highest quality teaching and research across the sciences, arts and humanities.

The Department of History, the largest History department in the University of London, is rated in the top national assessment category for teaching and is recognised as world-leading in its research. Further details can be found on the Department of History website [external link].

Apply online

History Lecture Taster: Gandhi: Saint or politician?

Dr Sarah Ansari: Head of the History Department 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.