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?

Study a unique history course in a uniquely historic city. Explore history in all its variety and controversy from the late 15th century to the early 21st century, investigating a range of British and European topics, with additional options available in American and African history, with an emphasis on social and cultural history. Engage with primary and secondary sources to carry out your own in-depth research into the aspects of history that fascinate you the most. And think about how the events and developments of the past continue to shape our present, and inform our future.

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
  • Study in a seaside and port city with a rich and unique history of its own
  • Benefit from a wide range of online resources, including specialist electronic archives of primary sources
  • Make the most of History’s close links with museums and public history organisations in the city and the region
  • 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
  • The heritage sector
  • postgraduate study
  • publishing
  • researcher for media production company


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

Back to top

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
    What methods do historians employ when writing history? How do they tackle big concepts such as class, race, gender and identity? Get to grips with a comparative approach and think about what connects historians working on different time periods.
  • Society and Culture in Twentieth Century Europe
    This unit introduces students to key themes and issues in the history of Europe throughout the twentieth century. Explore the impact of the major global conflicts on European society and culture; investigate the effect that ideas about race had on the life experience of twentieth-century Europeans, and consider the different ways in which authority was challenged in the modern world
  • The Early Modern World
    This unit gives students an introduction to key themes and issues in the history of early modern Europe (late 15th-18th centuries). Challenge old narratives about secularization and modernisation; consider European encounters with extra-European societies; investigate the often-violent impact of religious change; and assess the reasons for large-scale witch-hunts.
  • Problems and Perspectives
    Alongside the broad ‘survey’ units, this is your chance to specialise. Students on this unit are introduced to key case studies in European social and cultural history between 1450 and 2000. Explore 3 key themes, which might include 18th century France, Maritime history, Race and Immigration in 20th century Britain, and Film and History.  Drawing on historiography and primary sources, fain specialist knowledge in particular areas.
  • History At University
    What skills do historians, and history students need to be successful investigators and producers of history, in a range of formats? This unit allows you to hone your skills in research and in presenting information, in written and oral forms. It is based around weekly small-group teaching supported by opportunities for on-line study, case-study work and reflective writing.
  • History Beyond University
    How is History presented and used outside university teaching and research? Who gets to make History, and how might different stories about the past compete with each other?  Explore the opportunities and challenges presented by history and the media, heritage, museums and commemoration, and history in schools, and benefit from two field trips.

Years two and three: Specialist Topics

In the 2nd and 3rd year of your degree, there is plenty of scope for you to specialise in areas of history that interest you the most. These topics are taught by members of staff who are specialist researchers in the field – so you are taught by the experts! You will investigate the rich historiography of your chosen topic(s), and get hands-on- experience with primary sources. Units will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops, and assessed in a variety of ways (possibly including essays; blogs, presentations, group projects). From a consideration of early modern ‘criminals’ to a debate about the impact of the First World War on gender relations, there is a great range of specialist teaching and learning available!

You might choose specialist units that cover the following themes:

  • Urban change and culture in the modern British Empire
  • Magic and supernatural belief in 19th century Britain
  • 18th century France and the French Revolution
  • Crime in early modern and modern Britain
  • Religious change in Sixteenth Century England
  • Challenges to authority in the early modern and modern world
  • Leisure, class and identity in the twentieth century
  • Students, Youth and Protest in Post-War Britain
  • War, social change and memory in 20th century Germany
  • Maritime Empires and cultures in the early modern and modern world
  • Gender and Sexuality in the twentieth century
  • Mobilities and Safety in modern Britain

In addition to these specialist units, you will complete a 10,000 word dissertation (research project) of your own. Your topic might be inspired by the specialist teaching you have undertaken, or you might choose to go for a completely different subject. The choice is yours!


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

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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. 

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

Back to top

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.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

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.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484