BA (Hons) History
History at USW is rated top in Wales and top 10 in the UK for teaching National Student Survey 2022
Why study BA (Hons) History? Because it is socially relevant and personally enriching. Studying the past will open up an exciting future for you.
As a history undergraduate, you will learn a lot about previous eras, but you will also discover much about how today’s world has been shaped by the past. And you will reflect on who gets to make history. No longer do historians just study the ‘great men’ of the past; now you will consider how all manner of people, including the powerless and the marginalized, have played crucial roles in making things happen.
This course will offer you exciting new perspectives on the past. You will examine history from the close of the European Middle Ages through to the present day. And you’ll go on a global journey that takes in themes in the history of Europe, America, the British Empire and beyond.
Asking questions is at the heart of a history degree. What was it like to live in a society that believed in magic and witchcraft? What was it like to be a Victorian slum dweller? A Comanche Indian in the 1840s? A suffragette? Why did wars start? Why do societies and cultures change over time? To answer such historical questions, you need a range of high-level intellectual skills.
The history team at the University of South Wales will help you develop those skills. You will become an expert researcher, a thoughtful reader, a critical thinker and a compelling communicator. You will become an independent learner, able to set your own agenda, manage your time and work effectively on your own and with other students.
The skills you will develop as a history student will make you highly sought-after in the workplace.
We focus on modern history, from about 1450 to the present day, including regional, national, European, American and global perspectives. The programme is structured to take you from broad historical themes to much more focused historical subject areas. We also encourage students to exercise choice within modules. In some modules you can choose the question, theme, document or data as the focus of your assessments. In others, you can choose the type of assessment that suits the question you are asking. You might, for example, decide that a podcast is more appropriate than a poster presentation.
In the first year of your history degree, we introduce you to some major historical themes, such as the growth of the modern nation-state or the rise of the Atlantic world. We’ll also show how new approaches can illuminate the past. Crime and vice in the 19th century, for example, looks at how Victorians dealt with drug-taking and how contemporary newspapers covered the Jack the Ripper murders.
The second and third years allow you to specialise in areas that interest you most. Our lecturers draw from their own research, whether that’s on early modern magic, the impact of the nuclear industry on populations across the globe, or how history (and whose history) should be represented in public spaces. You will get to undertake your own historical investigation in the final-year dissertation.
Introduction to History
In this module, you will have the chance to acquire the key skills that will help you become a successful history student – from essay-writing to referencing, from research skills through to reading early modern texts. You will also have the opportunity to undertake your own research project using a range of digitised sources.
Crime, Vice and ‘Lowlife’ in Nineteenth-Century Britain
The nineteenth century saw significant changes in the way that criminals were thought about and dealt with. This module explores key themes in that history. We will wonder why the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 became a global news story, why the Victorians fell in love with Sherlock Holmes and why so many of them took opium (the chemical basis of heroin). We’ll also explore the reasons behind the decline of public executions, the rise of the prison, the overhaul of policing, the discovery of middle-class crime and the long-held belief in a criminal class.
Nations and Empires: The Making of Modern Europe, c.1750 to the Present
From the Enlightenment to the turn of the millennium, this module explores the ideas, developments and events that have shaped the Europe that we know today and interrogates the changing currency of key concepts like liberty, nationalism, democracy and capitalism. You will hone your debating skills, your competence in utilising primary sources of history and your writing skills through the module’s learning activities and assessments.
The Atlantic and Making of the Modern World: Old and New Worlds
In 1500 the richest parts of the world lay in China and India. By 1900, that had changed completely. What happened in the centuries after 1500? And why is the Atlantic world so central? Find out how a new ‘Atlantic system’ caused millions to be enslaved. How it changed the way we eat. How it overturned long-accepted ideas about the power of monarchs…and much else besides.
Science, Magic and Medicine in Early Modern Europe
Thinkers of the European Renaissance received a surge of new information from sites of trade and exploration abroad and through newly invented tools for observation and communication. Working without our current categories of 'science' and 'magic', they and following generations attempted to test and absorb knowledge which challenged existing systems for understanding the 'visible' and the 'invisible' worlds. This module considers the questions asked by early modern scholars regarding the nature of the world, the role of religion in daily life, the meaning of ‘monsters’ and natural wonders, and the development of medical knowledge and treatments.
Reflection on Learning in the Workplace
As a history graduate your skills will be highly sought after by employers. Across your second year, you will undertake a placement of your choosing or on one of the history projects to which we contribute. The USW Careers team will support you to find a placement that will take you one step closer to the graduate career that you would like to pursue. You will also build your online profile and CV ready to make applications for jobs in your final year.
Women in Modern Britain
The changing roles, status and experience of women in Britain is, arguably, one of the most significant revolutions of the past two centuries. Taking the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 as its starting point and ending with the final evacuation of the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in 2000, this module considers the people who have driven, and opposed, change, as well as the social and economic structures that have facilitated, or militated against, change.
Germany: Memory, Identity and Public History
Modern German history is dominated by the First World War, the Holocaust and the separation of the country into two states, but Germany itself has a long history rooted in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. On this module, you will look at how events ranging from the Reformation to the Fall of the Berlin Wall have been remembered and understood by Germans and what impact they have had on German identity and the public understanding of history.
Poor Lives: Poverty, Welfare and History
When did poverty become a social problem? How was poverty understood by the non-poor? Could the poor make their own history or were they helpless victims of forces beyond their control? Why has the idea that the poor are morally weak been such a popular way of understanding poverty over the last 250 years? These, and other, important questions lie at the heart of this module. We will consider the different measures put in place to deal with poverty – including workhouses, the hated means test, charity, and the beginnings of the welfare state – as well as thinking about how those in poverty have skilfully deployed their limited resources to good effect.
A Global History of the Nuclear Age
From Wales, the nuclear age may seem fantastical and remote. Yet it was in Wales that the only ever inland nuclear power station in the UK was commissioned in the 1950s. Similarly, it was in Snowdonia that livestock businesses had to cease operations due to fallout from the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl in 1986. How the nuclear age connects us across space and time – and what it can mean in these changing contexts – is a question that lies at the heart of this module and shapes understandings of ‘the global’.
The Tudor World, 1485-1603
The sixteenth century was a period of reformation, rebellion, revolt and re-generation. This module examines the reigns of the Tudor monarchs from the accession of Henry VII in 1485 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, situating them within the wider context of European political and religious change. The Tudors left a legacy that was to shape the British Isles for decades and centuries to come, and they remain a popular and central feature in national memory. However, the Tudors did not operate in a vacuum. Through a close analysis of the reigns of the Tudor monarchs as well as other European Houses, including the Habsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire and the Valois of France, this module will introduce you to themes regarding power, authority, legitimacy and dynasty as well as the structures that supported royal power, including the nature of government, propaganda and art.
Having explored a lot of history over your first two years, you will have the opportunity to delve deeper into a subject or question that really interests you. It might be directly related to one of the modules you have enjoyed, a subject that we simply haven’t been able to cover or a personal passion that you’ve nurtured for a long time. We will work with you to frame a question, identify sources, and showcase the historical skills you have been developing on the degree programme.
Frontiers: A Global History
In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner pondered the significance of the frontier in the making of modern America. He argued that the ‘wild’ frontier tested settlers, stripped them of their ‘Old World’ sensibilities and transformed them into something new – Americans. Historians have been arguing with Turner’s frontier thesis ever since. Where were the Indigenous peoples – the American Indians – in his analysis? His ‘frontier’ was their ‘home’, after all. Was there a place for women in Turner’s story of intrepid male fur traders, soldiers and settlers? And was the American West an exceptional historical experience – or was it more typical of other frontier histories? In this module, we consider a range of frontiers – including Viking Greenland, the Australian bush, the Argentinian Pampas and the Great American West – and how to write histories that best capture the great diversity of historical experiences of those who comingled and clashed in these fascinating spaces.
The Empire Strikes Back: History, Heritage and Race in Contemporary Britain
The relationship between the imperial past and the present is contentious and pervasive. It can be studied in relation to statues, museum displays, archives, film, music and television and even the idea of the university itself. Students will learn to negotiate and think critically about legacies of the imperial past in the present, as well as how these legacies can be confronted – on the streets, in museums, on social media and in the classroom.
Vice, Scandal and Depravity: Cities of Sin in Reformation Europe
Cities were the beating hearts of early modern Europe. Centres of commerce, finance, education and power, urban areas were at the forefront of changing religious, political and social landscapes. Yet, their position of power and prestige brought with it many dangers. Sin, greed, corruption, vice, scandal and depravity found welcome homes in cities and towns across Europe. Focusing on specific case studies from across Europe, this module explores the prevalence of vice, scandal and depravity and considers how people, led by religious and secular authorities, behaved in groups against perceived enemies or 'pollutants'. Set against the backdrop of reformation and apocalypticism, students will examine the underbellies of society and place popular and state reactions to them into the wider contexts of toleration and persecution.
Understanding Postwar Britain: Evidence and Debates
The thirty five years following the Second World War are often appropriated by various political interests either as a time of inexorable decline that commenced with the creation of a welfare state and was hastened by growing ‘permissiveness’ and the dismantlement of the British Empire, or as a progressive period of growing social justice coupled with a standard of living and level of personal opportunities and freedom unknown to the majority in previous generations. This module interrogates the ‘headlines’ and widely held assumptions about this period to consider the post-war origins and development of present-day preoccupations such as class, youth culture, sexuality, immigration, gender and consumerism. Drawing on an exciting range of sources, the assessments for the module enable you to pursue the topics of your choice and to present your findings through a choice of formats with an emphasis on communicating complex, contested and sometimes controversial and sensitive material to an imagined public audience.
History is more than learning about the past. It enables us to understand the present and apply our knowledge to issues facing the world today. The rich and enthusiastic teaching environment at USW is underpinned with immersive learning activities such as story-mapping, source analysis, debates, and industry placements to develop students’ skills as historians as well as future leaders in their chosen careers.
Teaching at USW is delivered through lectures, small group seminars, workshops and individual tutorials. Students are taught by leading experts in their relevant fields and are provided with opportunities to work with staff on cutting-edge research projects. Lecturers provide a stimulating on-campus learning environment which is supplemented by detailed online module pages with access to a wide range of additional resources, including primary sources, escape rooms, virtual exhibitions, podcasts, quizzes, and more.
Throughout the degree programme, teaching is supplemented with excellent academic and pastoral care, with each student being allocated a Personal Academic Coach (PAC) from the lecturing team. The PAC provides academic support on an individual basis over the course of the degree programme and fosters a close relationship between the teaching staff and students. Our teaching and pastoral excellence is regularly recognised by students at the annual Student Choice Awards organised by the Student Union.
You will be taught by a team of research experts. Each member of the team is a practising historian, which means that they are active in researching, writing and publishing history. As research experts, each team member also collaborates with heritage practitioners and policymakers to make sense of history in the present day, whether that means contributing to The Slave Trade and the British Empire: An Audit of Commemoration in Wales (2021), commissioned by the Welsh Government, or acting as an educational consultant for a charity such as the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association.
The team’s expertise will expose you to cutting-edge research in your lectures, seminars and workshops. It will give you access to rare primary source materials from archives and private libraries. It will enable you to learn from and engage with a rich network of research collaborators and stakeholders in the wider subject community. It will also feed into opportunities to apply your historical knowledge in ‘real-world’ situations, as highlighted by a recent placement to re-assess the legacies of monuments and statues in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
As research-led teachers, the team are also enthusiastic to learn from students, whose insights and interpretations are valuable in shaping the articles and books that they publish. You can read more about the research expertise of the History Team on the History Research Group page.
You will complete coursework as you progress through the degree programme. Modules are assessed in a range of ways. While essays form the backbone of our assessments and there are a few examinations, many modules incorporate innovative and exciting modes of assessment, including podcasts, story maps, posters, source analyses, heritage guides and book reviews. The range of assessment methods exposes students to digital platforms and outputs, increases their digital literacy and productivity, and recognises the range of transferable skills they need in an increasingly digital workplace.
The skills you learn on the History degree are highly valued by graduate employers. In the second year of the degree programme, you will undertake a work placement to help prepare you for a graduate career. You can join one of the projects which we run in conjunction with external partners or USW Careers will support you to find a placement in a school, museum or business. Recent projects have included a Black Lives Matters-inspired project in Rhondda Cynon Taf called History on the Edge. Students in 2022-23 will be participating in the international Conviction Politics project led by Monash University, Australia, a project to prepare for the 50th anniversary of Welsh Cycling, and smaller projects focusing on the history of Pontypridd. Other students have used their placements as a stepping-stone for careers in teaching or heritage, but your placement will also help you find a career in human resources, management, the civil service or law, among other options.
You will have the chance to take part in field trips within the UK and, when possible, overseas. Some local field trips to archives and relevant historic locations are a compulsory part of your studies, bringing history outside the classroom. We also work with students and with the university’s History Society to offer optional trips in the UK and overseas according to demand. Previous destinations have included Bath, Bristol, London, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Rome. For these optional trips, additional costs may apply.
It is possible to gain international experience by studying abroad, thanks to our links with universities in the USA and Europe, and still complete your history degree within three years.
Dr Christopher Hill
Dr Christopher Hill has research interests in modern British and global history, with a focus on histories of media, nuclear imperialism and social movements. His first book, Peace and Power in Cold War Britain, examines the interplay between radical traditions of liberty and media technologies, particularly through the prism of post-war peace movements and television. Chris is currently undertaking an AHRC-funded project on what the Ghanaian leader, Kwame Nkrumah, called ‘the new nuclear imperialism’ – the furtherance of British and French nuclear programmes through colonial connections and resources. The project will result in two outputs. The first, a single-authored monograph, will explore how imperial norms around race, diplomacy and the environment shaped the structure and trajectory of the British nuclear programme. The second, a co-edited collection of multimedia essays, co-produced with nuclear campaigners, veterans and workers, will explore the legacies of nuclear tests and radioactive materials in regions around the world. You can see a video about the research here.
Dr Ruth Atherton is a social, religious and cultural historian of early-modern Europe. Her research interests focus on confessional identity formation and the nature of sin and salvation in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Germany, especially with regards to the development of early modern sacramental education. She is currently working on a monograph entitled ‘The invisible grace of God’: Sacramental Education in Reformation Germany, 1525-1610 and has published several works on confessional identity formation across early-modern Germany. Dr Atherton is the module leader for ‘Science, Magic and Medicine in Early Modern Europe’, ‘The Tudor World, 1485-1603’, and ‘Vice, Scandal and Depravity: Cities of Sin in Reformation Europe’.
Dr Andy Croll teaches modules on the history of crime, poverty and frontiers. He has written books on Victorian urban history and the rise of a Welsh seaside resort (Barry Island), and articles on topics such as the Victorian underworld, hungry strikers, choral music and the New Poor Law in Wales. Dr Croll leads the modules ‘Introduction to History’, ‘Crime, Vice and ‘Lowlife’ in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, ‘Poor Lives: Poverty, Welfare and History’, and ‘Frontiers: A Global History’.
Dr Jonathan Durrant is the current course leader for BA History. He is a historian of gender in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He has written on witchcraft and gender in Germany and England. Dr Durrant is the module leader for ‘Reflection on Learning in the Workplace’, ‘Germany: Memory, Identity and Public History’, and ‘Witchcraft and Deviance in Early Modern Societies’.
Professor Chris Evans works on industrial history from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries and the history of Atlantic slavery in the age of abolition. He leads the module ‘The Atlantic and the Making of the Modern World: Old and New Worlds’.
Dr Jane Finucane is an expert on Germany in the age of the Thirty Years’ War.
Dr Tim Galsworthy's research focuses on American Civil War memory and the Republican Party in the civil rights era.
Dr Christopher Hill researches and explores conjunctures between contemporary histories of activism, imperialism, media and nuclear politics. These interests are reflected in his two research-led modules: ‘A Global History of the Nuclear Age’ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.
Dr Rachel Lock-Lewis teaches modern European history on the ‘Nations and Empires’ module and specialises in British social history on the ‘Women in Modern Britain’ and ‘Understanding Post-War Britain’ modules. She is currently researching the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 80s in South Wales and has published work previously on motherhood, parenting and social change in the 1950s and 60s.
We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.
If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.
The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. The University has a Contextual Admissions Policy, therefore, whilst most offers we make are at the top of the range, under the Policy we take certain aspects of an application into consideration and eligible UCAS applicants can receive a personalised offer or have results considered individually when you receive them. Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy Statement.
Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.
The BA (Hons) History is also available as a four-year course including an integrated Foundation Year designed for students who don’t currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry onto the history degree. If you are returning to education after a gap or don’t have the A-level grades to enter the first year, you’ll find the foundation year a supportive, specialised environment where you can meet future classmates and build up skills and confidence. For more information, see https://www.southwales.ac.uk/courses/ba-hons-history-including-foundation-year/
Typical A-Level Offer
BCC - CDD (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).
Typical Welsh BACC Offer
Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).
Typical BTEC Offer
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points).
Typical IB Offer
Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 29 overall including 5 or above in English at standard level
Typical Access to HE Offer
Pass the Access to HE Diploma and obtain a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points.
GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances.
International Entry Requirements
We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.
In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.
However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.
Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course
August 2022 - July 2023 Fees
Full-time UK: £9000
Full-time International: £13700
Part-time UK: £720 per 20 credits
August 2023 - July 2024 Fees
Full-time UK: TBC
Full-time International: TBC
Part-time UK: TBC
At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.
Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.
As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.
|Field Trips||£0 - £250||
Costs covered for domestic trips starting from campus (with exception of local transport in some cases). Any international trips vary from 0-250 depending on subsidies available.
Students may require a DBS check if they choose to undertake a work placement with young / vulnerable people. In this case, they are responsible for covering the cost. The fee covers the cost of the enhanced check, online admin fees and the post office checks.
|Placement expenses: Work Placement||£0 - £100||
Students undertake a work placement of their choice for optional modules offered in the second and third year. In this case, they will be responsible for travel costs and may need to budget for suitable workplace attire depending on their chosen placement. These figures assume at most two hours' local travel for a six-day (30 hour placement) and purchase of one work outfit.
Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs
Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).
To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.
Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly.
When we review applications for a place on the BA (Hons) History degree programme, we are more interested in why you want to undertake a history degree than what you have done so far. You should tell us what has inspired you to take this step, what historical subjects you are interested in, and what your ambitions are for after you graduate. What do you hope to learn on the degree programme? Which skills do you want to develop? Why is history important to you … and society?
International and EU students
Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK.
Studying history provides key transferable graduate skills that are valued highly by employers. It’s the perfect training in how to research, interpret, evaluate and communicate information. Through our innovative modules, you will develop high-level skills in analysis, critical thinking, written, verbal and digital communication, self-management and teamwork. Our history degree equips you for graduate careers in a variety of sectors. Our history graduates have progressed on to careers in all levels of teaching, heritage, museums and archives, the civil service, the legal profession, the voluntary sector, politics, journalism and the media, banking and management. Others have continued their studies and research through postgraduate qualifications in a wide range of career paths such as law, international relations, teaching, human resources, museum and heritage management, performing arts, broadcasting, accounting and, of course, history. You could also consider progressing on to postgraduate research with a Masters by Research or PhD.
We know that employability matters to you, so there’s a strong focus on developing your graduate attributes throughout your degree. The ‘Reflection on Learning in the Workplace’ module in year 2 provides you with ‘hands on’ experience of applying your history skills through either one of our commissioned history projects or through a placement related to your career interests. Furthermore, you will be supported with career planning and skills support by our careers team at USW and through your Personal Academic Coach on the history team.
Our Careers and Employability Service
As a USW history student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.
This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.
Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.