BA (Hons) History - University of Portsmouth
A Gold rating in teaching excellence Read more
BA (Hons)


UCAS codeV100

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Explore the past, engage with the present

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Engage with primary and secondary sources to carry out your own in-depth research into the aspects of history that fascinate you the most. We teach a range of British and European topics, from the fifteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on social and cultural history. Above all, we aim to approach these topics in a lively, up-to-date manner.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Explore current debates about the past and how it is interpreted with expert scholars in the field
  • Tailor your course to reflect your particular interests
  • Undertake work or research placements, volunteer roles and internships alongside your study or opt to spend a sandwich year working at home or abroad

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course will equip you with skills that are easily transferable to the workplace such as effective communication, organisation and teamwork. You will have the qualities to go into a range of careers such as publishing, marketing, PR as well as roles in the business sector.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • journalism
  • law
  • teaching
  • administration
  • archive and museum work


James Clark, BA (Hons) History 2016

I loved the range of subjects that are on offer at the University as well as the expertise of all the lecturers and tutors. They really made my time here worthwhile and enjoyable. The sports facilities are absolutely fantastic and the clubs and societies are really welcoming and they really do make your time here special.

James Clark, BA (Hons) History 2016


History, Politics and Social Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The diverse spread of subjects offered and ability to complete your own research
  • The critical thinking, analytical and debating skills you’ll develop
  • The passionate lecturers with a wide range of specialist research expertise

Browse all courses in History, Politics and Social Studies

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

You will begin your studies with an introduction to key concepts and topics. You’ll also develop strong analytical and research skills which you will rely on throughout your studies.

Core units in this year include:

  • Historical Methods
  • Society and Culture in Twentieth Century Europe
  • The Early Modern World
  • Problems and Perspectives
  • History At University
  • History Beyond University

Year two

With a wealth of optional units to choose from you can mould your studies to your strengths and interests.

Core units in this year include:

  • Modernity and the Masses 1750-1914
  • Empire and Identities 1750-1914
  • Introduction to Historical Research

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Ruins, Revolutions And Reunification: Post-War German Society And Culture
  • The Way To The Stars: Film And Cinema-Going In Britain C.1900-C.2000
  • International Politics Of The Middle East
  • France: Crisis, Renewal And Reinvention (1936 To The Present)
  • Guns, Glory Hunters & Greed: French And British Colonisation In Africa
  • Russian & Eurasian Politics
  • In Darkest England: Culture, Conflict And The City 1790-1860
  • Rum, Sodomy And The Lash: Outlaws At Sea 1600 - 1850
  • Public History Placement
  • Race, Slavery And Emancipation In The Americas
  • Introduction To Teaching
  • The First World War: A Social And Gender History
  • From Revolution To Dictatorship - Russia & The Soviet Union 1917-1941
  • Crime, Sin And Punishment In Britain – 1500-1850
  • Learning From Experience
  • Foreign Languages

Year three

Complete a self-researched dissertation or major project, and specialise in your chosen subject area.

Core units in this year are:

  • Dissertation / Major Project
  • History Special Subject 1 and 2
  • Into the Archives
  • Archival Research Project

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Hampshire and the Sea
  • Gender, War and Social Change
  • Magic & Modernity
  • Cinema-going in Wartime Britain
  • Students and Youth in Wartime Britain
  • The French Revolution

Please note that not all options or special subjects will be available at any given time.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


Our teaching approach involves lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. We will teach you the skills to carry out your own research, follow your own initiative and confidently present your ideas to others.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 78% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 14% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 86% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 10% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 90% studying independently and 0% on work placement


There is a clear emphasis on working with your peers to discuss ideas for your coursework. We’ll then assess you in a range of ways to allow you to showcase your learning. Here’s how:

  • essays
  • close textual analysis
  • group and individual presentations
  • a 10,000-word dissertation

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 8% by written exams, 10% by practical exams and 82% by coursework
  • Year two students: 0% by written exams, 22% by practical exams and 78% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 24% by practical exams and 76% by coursework

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Facilities & Features

The Study Centre

A suite of rooms with a comfy seating area, desks where you can work, printers, Mac workstations and access to the wireless network so you can log in using your own laptop. There are also several study rooms where you can work on group projects, alongside access to the University 3rd Space.

Research-Active Staff

You will be taught by specialist staff who are actively undertaking research in this field, ensuring your learning keeps you abreast of the latest developments. Staff are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), the UK's largest research centre of its kind.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

There may be travel costs for placements undertaken during your course. This will be in the region of £500.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Traditionally you may link a history graduate with someone who works in a museum, archive or library. However, employers from every area of industry value today’s history graduates. You will leave with the ability to analyse and manage large quantities of information, communicate effectively, research in groups or independently and write in a concise and informative fashion. All highly employable assets.

You’ll also possess a firm foundation to study history at Masters or PhD level should you want to continue with your research. Our History team run an MA in the History of War, Culture and Society, which is a popular next step amongst our graduates.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • archivist
  • recruitment consultant
  • museum curator
  • public relations officer
  • information analyst

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which means you can earn credits towards your degree for work, volunteer and research placements that you’re involved in alongside your study.

The School of Social Historical and Literary Studies can offer you a number of work experience opportunities in a range of local organizations during your degree course. Currently these include projects at the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the New Theatre Royal, with local government departments and political groups, and a number of our students have worked on small research projects for the local community.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Daniel John Beck, BA (Hons) History student

After graduation there is a considerable amount of careers I could go into. The University helps you develop your career plans and options. I am considering careers in teaching and journalism.

Daniel John Beck, BA (Hons) History student

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates. You’ll also be able to explore course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

If you'd like to tour the campus or meet teaching staff before you apply, find out about our other visiting opportunities.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Booking for Open Days for 2019 entry opens soon. Register here for priority booking.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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