History BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 year extended)



This course is available as a 3 year degree or a 4 year extended degree.


Explore how past societies developed and behaved to better understand our present and future lives, on our full-time History degree in Cambridge. Choose to study abroad in Canada, take part in European field trips and local fieldwork, and get support to find work placements. Broaden your historical knowledge and develop analytical and research skills that, together, can lead to careers in fields such as heritage, museums and genealogy.

Full description


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need: they help us review what we teach and how we teach it.

Our BA (Hons) History degree will prepare you particularly well for roles that require a substantial body of historical knowledge, such as heritage manager, museum curator or broadcast journalism.

The key skills you’ll learn include research, data analysis, critical thinking and complex problem solving, which are sought after in many disciplines, but make a particularly strong pairing with historical knowledge in areas such as archaeology, genealogy, archiving or the Civil Service.

Our History course, which includes elements of Personal Development Planning, will help you find the most suitable career path or even move on to a postgraduate degree, such as our MA History or MA International Relations.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Global Histories Ideas Connections Spaces and Objects
    This module will focus on the global history of the early modern period. You will be interpreting global in its widest sense, but you will focus on non-European empires and peoples. The structure of the course is thematic. In each week you will focus on how different peoples in different parts of the globe interacted with each other, how their ideas and cultures converged and diverged, and how taking a global approach helps us better understand the history of this period. You will examine ideas: religions, scientific knowledge, languages, and understandings of rulership. You will also examine spaces: borderlands, empires, and cities. But alongside these more particular themes you follow the impact of larger and more widespread changes upon peoples across the early-modern globe: travel, environmental change, and the burgeoning trade that helped join together this increasingly interconnected world. The course will develop your ability to think as a historian at multiple scales: the local, the national, the continental, and the global. It will allow you to contrast the micro and the macro, the big and the small.
  • Uniting the Kingdoms: Early Modern Britain 1485-1715
    This module provides you with an overview of the major political and religious changes that took place in the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It looks at the interconnected development of the monarchy and of parliament from Henry VII’s reign through the Elizabethan period, the Civil Wars and Commonwealth through to the Restoration, the 'Revolution' of 1688 and the Hanoverian succession in 1714. You will examine the Stuart monarchy in Scotland and the union of the Scottish and English crowns under James VI and I and the Union of 1707. You will have the opportunity to engage with the major political and religious debates of the period, including arguments surrounding attitudes towards witchcraft. The module is taught through a mixture of lectures and seminars, and you also have the opportunity to undertake fieldwork and work with a range of types of source material. You will be assessed through the completion of two essays.
  • Creating the Past
    On this module you will identify, examine, and develop the key skills of the historian: critical reading, stylish, persuasive, and accessible writing, and a keen understanding of archives, sources, and historical interpretation. You will analyse the modes of communication by which history is transmitted – from documentaries and books to feature films and newspapers – and develop a critical appreciation of how history is discussed across different forms of media and in different areas of public life. Finally, you will apply those skills and critical understanding to a group project in which you will research, develop, and curate a project on an aspect of Cambridge’s history. This module offers you the chance to get into the archives and make use of the fantastic collections available to historians in Cambridge. Your assessments will involve the application of historical literacies to readings and sources, individual blog posts based on source analyses, and the design for your group project. You will thus develop the ability to work both individually and as part of a group in understanding the past. More importantly you will develop your identity as a historian, an identity you will take with you into the wider world on finishing your degree. This is not just a description of somebody who writes and researches history for a living, but a way of thinking critically about the past and present.
  • Revolution and Crisis in the European World, 1500-1800
    This module deals with the far-reaching changes that took place in the western world from the development of printing in the 15th century to the French Revolution at the end of the 18th. It will involve study of such elements as religious change and conflict (the Reformation and Counter-Reformation), the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, the development of the modern concept of the State, and the American and French Revolutions. You will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the absolutist form of monarchy pioneered in France and how different rulers sought to establish effective control without antagonising powerful and dangerous groups among their subjects. You will learn about the new ideas of the Enlightenment and how these were applied to government through the theory of 'enlightened absolutism'. You will also look at the way in which the balance of power was changed by the wars that tore the continent apart, from the wars of Louis XIV through to the Seven Years’ War and the War of American Independence. You will look at some of the literature of the period and engage with the new ideas about nature, humankind and the rights and duties of rulers and ruled. You will be involved in a variety of different learning experiences, including lectures, study of source material, seminar discussion and library-based research. Assessment is based on two exercises, an essay testing your understanding of the major themes dealt with in the course, and a source-based exercise, in which you will be required to use at least two different pieces of source material to show how they illustrate major themes. Both assessments will test your understanding of the major themes, rather than detailed understanding of individual examples.
  • Making of Modern Britain 1714-1832
    Between 1714 and 1832, Britain emerged from a period of chronic instability to become a global power and the world’s first industrial nation. In this module you will examine some of these transformations, exploring the political, social and economic changes of the period and considering the impact of change on the everyday lives of the men, women and children who lived through it. Most aspects of Britain’s evolution towards ‘modernity’ are contested by historians and a core aspect of the module will be your development of critical skills in relation to these historiographical debates. You will consider, for example, the appropriateness of the term ‘revolution’ with regards to industrial developments in this period; the validity of the ‘moral economy’ with regards to popular protest, and the significance of the ‘bloody code’ as a tool of social discipline and control. You will also examine ideological developments in the period and their broader social and cultural significance, focusing on issues such as the growth of ‘polite-ness’ and new concepts of male and female behaviour. The module encourages you to engage in close reading of academic articles and monographs and to make critical use of online resources, while also allowing you to integrate your learning from seminars, lectures and fieldwork for the purposes of the assessment. The module introduces you to learning tools and time management skills that will start on the way to becoming an autonomous learner, and foster the self-confidence and intellectual resourcefulness valued by employers once you graduate. The module is taught by lectures, seminars and field trips, and assessment is through two written pieces of work: a historiographical review and an essay.

Year two, core modules

  • Britain in the 19th century
    This course will introduce you to the development of Victorian Britain. You'll examine changes in politics and social structure, focusing in particular on the development of the party political system as well as class, gender, sexuality and the economy. You'll also examine key political and social figures such as Robert Peel, Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria and William Gladstone. You'll focus in particular on the emergence of liberalism and on Victorian Britain as a liberal society. You'll be assessed through an essay and an exam.
  • 19th Century Europe
    On this module, you'll explore the development of nation-states in Europe from Napoleon to the outbreak of the First World War. Beginning with the impact of the Napoleonic rule on France and on Europe, you'll look at the ideas that lay behind European revolutionary movements and the ideologies of the regimes that tried to suppress them. You'll cover the 1848 revolutions and the impact of nationalism and liberalism on the Habsburg Empire, Italy, Germany, France and Russia, and consider the unification movements in Italy and Germany. You'll also study major themes, including the Eastern Question, the growth of communism and socialism and the impact of anti-semitism, and major cities, such as Vienna and Paris, in the context of the cultural changes in the European fin de siècle. You'll finish the module by looking at the international tensions that led up to the outbreak of war in 1914. Your assessment will be a 2,000 word essay and a 3-hour exam.
  • History Today: Methods and Approaches
    On this module you'll reflect on the methods of the discipline of History and, in the Personal Development Plan element, on your own progress as a student. You'll also be instructed in Research Methods, in preparation for writing your dissertation in the final year. You'll discuss how to analyse historical sources and consider the merits of varied historical traditions, as well as reflecting on the nature and problems inherent in the process of constructing history. Your assessment will take the form of a set of exercises in which you will reflect on the nature of the discipline of History, show competence in the research skills taught on the module, and reflect on your progress as a student.
  • Britain in the 20th Century
    This course will introduce you to the development of Britain in the 20th century. You'll examine changes in politics and social structure, focusing in particular on the development of the party political system as well as class, gender, sexuality and the economy. You'll examine key political and social figures (such as David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, the Beatles and Margaret Thatcher), the impact of Total War on twentieth century society, as well as unemployment, consumerism and the changing roles of women. You'll also consider the way that the reform tradition came to embrace the welfare state. You'll find this module useful for understanding many current social and political controversies as it explores how today's Britain came into being. You'll be assessed through a 2000-word portfolio and a one-hour exam.

Year two, optional modules

  • The British Empire
    On this module, you'll look at the development of the British Empire from the end of the War of American Independence to the end of the Great War. You'll discover how Britain expanded its hold overseas and the developing nature of British Imperial rule, with a balance between looking at individual colonies (the British Caribbean, India, the Opium wars with China, the development of British rule in Canada, etc.) a consideration of general themes underpinning the imperial experience of the British and the peoples of their empire (conflicting theories about the Empire's economic benefits, and the development of imperial consciousness and culture in Britain and of nationalism in the colonies). You'll study the work of medical personnel, missionaries and engineers. You'll engage with different schools of thinking about imperial history, including both the more assertive apologia school and the 'Subaltern' postcolonialist school. Your assessment will consist of a commentary on document extracts provided for the course, and a seen written examination.
  • The Growth of the USA
    This is a survey module on the development of the USA, 1776-1900. You'll study in outline the major events, concepts and issues that shaped American culture in this period, encountering great leaders such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and examining debates over the meaning of the Constitution, the creation of the American political system, the significance of the frontier and westward expansion in American history, the roots of feminism, and the role of race and ethnicity (particularly the issue of slavery). Much of your time will be spent on the causes and consequences of the American Civil War. You'll consider how the United States was on the verge of superpower status by 1900. You'll be assessed by one essay and an exam.
  • A Social History of Medicine in Europe 1500-1750
    This module explores the changing nature of health, disease and medical practise in early modern Europe. It will introduce you to key issues in the history of western European medicine, such as the role and influence of religion on medical theory and practice and the legacy of classical scientific and medical knowledge. It focuses on specific topics such as government policy, diet and nutrition, reproduction and childbirth, plague and epidemic disease, death and dying, venereal disease, military medicine, the care of sick children, the scientific revolution and the development of pharmacology. In addition to introducing the main changes and developments in the knowledge and practice of medicine, we will also examine a wide variety of multidisciplinary sources and explores methodological issues relating to researching and writing the history of medicine in this period. You will have the opportunity to undertake structured skill development in presentation, debate, analysis and exposition. These skills are necessary for future employability skills, and also relate to other outcomes in the History degree. This module is taught through highly interactive seminars and includes a visit to Cambridge University Library to see the medical collection of Thomas Lorkyn (1528-1591). There will also be an opportunity to visit to the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garrett in London. You will be assessed informally throughout the module through discussion, team based quizzes and presentations. Formal graded assessment will be through one 3000 word essay. The module will also include opportunities for formative feedback.
  • The United States in the 20th Century
    On this module, you'll study the development of the United States during the 20th century as it gained superpower status, investigating social and political change from the Progressive era through to Ronald Reagan's presidency. You'll consider such key figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Al Capone, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Richard Nixon, with topics including US foreign policy, imperialism, the New Deal, McCarthyism, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War and Watergate. You'll evaluate themes such as the continuities and changes in foreign policy, the development of the reform tradition as well as the problems of race. You'll be assessed through an essay and exam respectively.
  • Europe in the Age of the First World War
    On this module, you'll examine the 15-year period that began with war and ended with capitalism entering a new crisis when Wall Street crashed. You'll assess the causes and consequences of the First World War in Europe before turning to the main issues on the Western and Eastern Fronts, including the Battle of the Somme and the Russian revolutions, and the end of other European empires. You'll cover post-war diplomacy, assessing the treaties that shaped international relations after 1918, then examine the reconstruction of Europe after the war. Your studies will conclude with a discussion of the crisis in Europe after the Wall Street Crash and the onset of the Great Depression. You will be assessed through two essays: one on the causes and course of the war, and one on the consequences of the conflict.
  • Gender and Sexuality in Britain: 1880s-1980s
    This module will give you an overview of the history of gender and sexuality in modern Britain between 1880 and 1980, allowing you to appreciate how sexuality needs to be understood as socially constructed and regulated, as well as always historically specific. You'll come to appreciate the shifts in the ways in which men and women have conceived of their appropriate 'roles', paying attention to differences of class, race, ethnicity, geographical location, sexuality and age. From the late 19th century to the ‘Swinging Sixties”, you’ll look at feminist movements throughout the 20th century (from the women’s suffrage movement to the Women’s Liberation Movement) and consider changes in attitudes towards homosexuality. You’ll consider the effects of the two world wars on issues of gender and you'll analyse the effects of gender-differentiated (un)employment in the interwar period, as well as the development of birth control. You'll be assessed by an essay and a report based on a seminar presentation.

Year three, core modules

  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The individual final Major Project module allows you to engage in a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific discipline. Normally the topic will be agreed in consultation with academic staff and an appropriate supervisor will be appointed to supervise you in your chosen topic. The topic may also be drawn from a variety of sources including: Anglia Ruskin research groups, previous or current work experience, the company in which you are currently employed, or a professional subject of specific interest (if suitable supervision is available). The project topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The chosen topic will require you to identify and formulate problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop software and/or media artefacts as appropriate, process data, critically appraise and present your findings. Regular meetings with the project supervisor and or/group workshops should take place, so that the project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction. The assessment will normally include a substantial written report, including a bibliography.
  • History Special Subject
    This module will allow you to interrogate a specialist area of contemporary research in the subject area, particularly those with ongoing research being produced by staff members in the Department. For History, this topic might be either ‘Twilight of the Raj’or ‘Bells to Boomboxes: Sound in Britain, Europe and America, 1500-1980.

Year three, optional modules

  • Russia: Revolution and Reaction
    On this module, you'll look at the huge changes that occurred in Russia from the turn of the century to the death of Josef Stalin in 1953, including the late tsarist period and the First World War. You'll consider the causes of the 1917 revolutions and the start of the Soviet period, assessing why the Bolsheviks were able to stay in power and the type of system that emerged under Lenin. You'll then examine why Stalin came to power and the origins and nature of Stalinism and how the USSR survived the Great Patriotic War. Your assessment will comprise two essays, one on the Leninist period and one on the Stalinist era.
  • Leisure and Popular Culture in Britain, 1800 to the Present
    From the music hall to Reality TV, from Victorian melodrama to the soap opera, this module will show you how popular culture has changed in Britain over a 200-year period, allowing you to understand the cultural forms you most enjoy in an historical context. You'll look at the growth of modern media and explore arguments about popular culture such as social control and the emergence of mass culture in Britain. You'll also uncover the extent to which a popular culture (created by the common people) exists or has existed. If you're hoping to enter media-related professions, or just have a general interest in popular culture, this module will give you plenty to think about. Your ability to develop solve complex historical problems in a critical and analytical way will be assessed through two 1500-word essays.
  • End of Empires
    On this module, you'll look at the process by which European empires declined and collapsed through the course of the 20th century. You'll examine the expansion in European empires that occurred at the end of the First World War, and the impact of the Depression and the Second World War. You'll consider the role of nationalist movements in putting pressure on the colonial powers before and during the war, and how these movements took advantage of the changed international situation after 1945. You'll also examine the interest of the superpowers in decolonisation during the development of the Cold War. You'll consider why the end of Belgian and Portuguese rule in Africa was attended by so much conflict and the problems posed by white rule in Rhodesia and South Africa, as well as the establishment of the Commonwealth and the post-war impact on British society of large-scale immigration, leading up to the Falklands War of 1982 and the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. You'll be assessed through a document commentary and an end-of-module seen examination.
  • Capitalism in Crisis: The Depression and War in Europe
    On this module, you'll examine the extraordinary 15-year period that began with the global financial crisis and the Great Depression and ended with the Second World War and a very different world. You'll explore the different types of political systems and ideologies that existed in 1930s Europe, assessing the crisis of liberal democracy and the prevalence of authoritarian forms of government, such as the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. You'll also examine international relations in this decade, focusing on some of the key crises such as the Nazis' invasion of the Rhineland and the Spanish Civil War. You'll assess the build up to the outbreak of the war in 1939, and question whether war could have been avoided. You'll then look at the war itself, examining the spread of Nazism across Europe, the relations between Winston Churchill and other world leaders, and the Holocaust, before considering the end of the war in Europe and the Allies' victory, assessing whether the war led to Europe being eclipsed as two new superpowers emerged. You'll be assessed through a class presentation/report and an essay.
  • The Cold War: the world divided
    On this module you'll examine the Cold War, starting with the debates that surround the origins of hostilities between East and West, and ending by questioning whether anyone actually 'won' the Cold War. You'll assess international relations between the USSR and USA after 1945 and examine the consequences of these relations, including the founding of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. You'll also assess Britain's role in the onset of the Cold War. Other areas you'll focus on are the 1960s and the revolutionary challenges in the USA, France and Czechoslovakia, détente, and the Second Cold War. You'll consider the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe and what the collapse of the USSR meant for the post-Cold War world. Your assessment will consist of two 1,500 word essays.
  • The Era of Thatcher and Blair
    On this module you will consider and contrast the long term effects of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair on British politics since the 1970s. Firstly, you will study how Thatcher deviated from One Nation Conservatism of the 1950s and 1960s, the diagnosis she made of how a society (and government) should function, and the reasons for her electoral triumph in 1979. You will then go on to consider her time in office through the lens of both her core supporters on the one hand and the British left on the other. You will have the opportunity to analyse the effect of Thatcher’s policies on class relations in the UK, and the story of privatisation and reforms to the City of London. The popular platform of Right to Buy, share ownership and moving the low paid out of paying income tax will also be considered. You will then analyse how she has continued to shape British politics since her fall from office in 1990. In doing so, you will look at how she influenced politicians such as John Major, Gordon Brown and, principally, Tony Blair. You will consider how Blair not only learned from Thatcher, but looked across the Atlantic to Bill Clinton and the New Democrats, too. You will consider charges that Blair was a ‘Thatcherite,’ as well as arguments for and against the legacy of New Labour. Throughout, you will have the opportunity to access primary source material via the Margaret Thatcher Foundation online archive and the Reagan online archive.

Optional modules available all years

  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme module will allow you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You may choose to take two language modules in place of options on your course from the second semester of your first year, or in the second or third year. You can choose from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. In order to experience the learning of a new language, you must select one that you have not learned before.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure.

Your assessment will comprise a variety of methods designed to emulate real-world approaches to history and encourage you to practise the skills that will likely be required in your future career.

As well as exams and essays, these include field trip reports, internet search reports, document analyses, case studies, book reviews and geography tests.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, we believe in thinking critically about the past, present and future to challenge perceptions and better understand communities and people.

With expertise from gender issues to literary analysis to exploring how the past has shaped our modern world, all our staff members are active researchers. This is reflected in our teaching, allowing us to support our students with the latest theories and practices, as well as essential employability advice.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Study abroad

You can apply to study abroad for one semester in Canada, and get funding to help you cover the cost.

Field trips

Every year, we take our students on a field trip to a European city to broaden their historical understanding of the area. In 2018, we visited Berlin.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2019/20 or 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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