This course offers the opportunity to combine a broad history degree with an in-depth study of contemporary China, one of the world’s most rapidly changing countries. Most students will devote three-quarters of their time to history and the rest to Chinese studies. In history, you will develop the skills to write and debate history and undertake an independent analysis of a body of materials about a subject of your choice. In Contemporary Chinese Studies, you will have the option to learn Mandarin to degree level and to undertake either an intensive three-week field course in China or spend a semester at our campus there.
The history core is Learning History, a skill- and methodology-based module. The emphasis is on reflecting on the nature of history as a discipline and to develop the skills required for the writing and debating of history. Your other compulsory module is Introduction to Contemporary China. You will be able to choose your remaining modules from a range of history and Chinese studies options. We would encourage you to take Mandarin as one of your options, but this is up to you.
The core element in Year Two is provided by the compulsory module, the Contemporary World since 1945. The focus of this course is not just on global developments, political and economic, social and cultural, environmental and demographic, but also on exploring key historical debates concerning the immediate origins of the world in which we now live. In addition, you will be able to select from a wide menu of historical modules covering a broad chronological and historical range, as well as numerous options from Chinese Studies. The Chinese Studies options include a three-week field trip to China.
In History, your Special Subject (a year-long, research-based seminar) and dissertation (10,000 words) are compulsory and we would encourage you to choose a China-related subject. In addition, you will also take a number of optional modules in Chinese Studies. As in year two, the Chinese studies options available include modules on aspects of China's contemporary society, economy, politics, environment, culture and media.
Please visit the Department of History and School of Contemporary Chinese Studies websites.
A levels: ABB, including A in history at A level
English language requirements
IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
TOEFL iBT 100 (minimum 19 with 20 in Speaking).
Please see the alternative qualifications page.
Flexible admissions policy
We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of some of the modules we offer.
This module will provide you with the learning skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history. You will be introduced to different approaches in the study of history as well as to different understandings of the functions served by engagement with the past. The module aims to encourage more effective learning, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline, and enhance the skills listed. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Introduction to Contemporary China
This is an introductory course designed to provide students with an overview of contemporary China and help students establish a foundation of knowledge and skills to pursue more advanced studies of China in their later years of study. You will examine a variety of topics such as Chinese economy and politics, security and foreign relations, and Chinese media since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 with particular attention paid to the changes in China since 1978. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week.
Popular Culture in China
This module examines the rise of ‘popular culture’ in China and the wider Chinese-speaking world from the end of the 19th century through to the present era. You’ll debate about what ‘counts’ as popular culture in a Chinese context, the module traces the development of specifically ‘modern’ forms of popular culture, ranging from music and film to the ‘mass culture’ of Maoist China and television in more recent decades. The module also focuses on significant sites and periods in the development of modern popular culture, including 1930s Shanghai, postwar Hong Kong, Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s, and the Reform-era PRC. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week.
Introduction to the Chinese Legal System
Studying this module you will gain an introduction to the origin, key elements and characteristics of the evolving Chinese legal system including the history of Chinese law, the organization of the P.R. China as a state and its constitutional laws, the law making process in China, the legal institutions and the Chinese court system, the criminal process, and the civil process and legal profession in China. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week.
Introduction to Business and Economy of China
This module introduces you to the economy, business, institutions and economically-related political aspects of contemporary China with a focus is on the reform period. You’ll gain an overview of macro- and micro- economic, institutional and political factors that affect business and development in China, as well as major economic sectors in China. Issues covered include: economic development, economic reform, exports and FDI, the financial and banking system, state and non-state firms, technology, major challenges including income inequalities, and the state’s role in the growth and management of the economy. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture and a one 1-hour seminar each week.
From Reformation to Revolution: an introduction to early modern history, 1500–1789
This module introduces you to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between 1500 and 1789. You will examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the ‘New World’. You will spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Introduction to the Medieval World, 500-1500
This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500–1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organization; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will have a one hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.
Roads to Modernity: an introduction to modern history, 1789–1945.
In the first semester, the module provides a chronology of modern history from c.1789–1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Contemporary World since 1945
The module surveys and analyses some of the main developments in world affairs since the end of the Second World War. This includes major international events, particularly the course and aftermath of the Cold War, as well as national and regional histories, especially in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; the module also looks at key political and social movements. Attention is paid to political, economic and social forces, with students spending five hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of villains such as the Jew. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
This module addresses evidence for crusader motivation and experience through sources relating to crusading activity in Europe and the Middle East from the late eleventh century to the mid- thirteenth century. It seeks to understand how crusaders saw themselves and their enemies, their experiences and activity on crusade and as settlers, and how this horrifying yet enduringly fascinating process has been interpreted historically. You will have five hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Venetian Republic, 1450-1775
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, its administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. The module will discuss the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender. You will spend four hours each week in lectures and seminars for this module.
De-Industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, 1970-1990.
This module examines the social and cultural impact of economic change in three traditional industrial regions in the UK, Germany and the US in the 1970s and 1980s. It takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including: overlaps and differences between Contemporary History and the Social Sciences; change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding; political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures, among others. You will spend four hours per week in lecture and seminars.
Soviet State and Society
This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Rise of Modern China
In this module you will study the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. You will focus in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of ‘modernity’ in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a ‘modern’ nation-state and society. In this module you will have a two-hour lecture each week.
In this module you will be given a theoretical and applied overview of strategic management in today's operational environment. It introduces and analyses the key concepts, frameworks and techniques of strategic management, which allow them to diagnose complex situations related to real-world business development. For this module you will have a one 1-hour and a half lecture and a one 1-hour and a half seminar each week.
Chinese Business Law
This module aims to provide an overview of the development of Chinese business law in the context of economic globalization and in particular of China's WTO membership. The module mainly include: Political Economy of Business Regulation in China and China's WTO Membership; Introduction to the Chinese's Legal System and Law Making Process; Chinese Contract Law, Law on Business Organizations, Company Law and Corporate Governance in China, Chinese Antimonopoly Law and Intellectual Property Laws. It concludes with discussions on the possible impacts of China's integration into the economic globalization on its domestic business regulation. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week.
Social Change and Public Policy in China's Reform Era
In this module you will learn how the Chinese central government has responded to socio-economic changes by issuing a number of key policy initiatives, most notably in the field of social security, health, education, labour, innovation and the environment. In the first part of the module participants will be sensitized about the interplay between socio-economic transformation, administrative reform and public policy making during China's reform era (1978).
Typical Year Three Modules
This module involves the in-depth study of a historical subject from which you will create a 10,000 word dissertation. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task.
Kings, Saints and Monsters in England, 450-850
This module examines cultural and political changes in the southern half of the island of Britain between the fifth and ninth centuries, in particular the development of kingship and kingdoms as a form of political organisation, and the effects of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Italy at War, 1935-45
Spending three hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935–45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences. As source material you will have the chance to explore diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers and magazines, newsreels, as well as examining the representation of the war in literature and cinema.
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853-1878
This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the nineteenth century as the world of the samurai was confronted by Western expansion and the Age of Steam. It explores the forces at work in Japan’s rapid transformation from an ‘ancien régime’ under the rule of the Shogun into a ‘modern’ imperial power. Original documents examined in class draw on the growing range of Japanese primary sources available in English translation, together with the extensive works of Victorian diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other foreign residents in the treaty ports. You will have a three hour seminar each week to study for this module.
From Racial State to Reconstruction: women and gender relations in Germany, 1939-45
This module adopts a perspective of women´s and gender history to explore the history of Germany in the period from the beginning of the National Socialist dictatorship up to the division of Germany into two post-war states in 1949. It will examine National Socialist discourses, policies and practices in relation to women and gender relations by drawing on records of public authorities and institutions concerned with educating and training the female population in line with Nazi precepts, mobilizing labour for the Nazi war economy, sustaining home front morale, and combating ‘threats to the race’. You will have a weekly three hour seminar to study for this module.
In this module you’ll learn China under the communist party in the pre-reform era of 1949-1978. You’ll examine how China was organized and governed, changes in rural and urban society, the family, the economy and the Chinese workplace under Mao Zedong's CCP. You’ll have an hour a week of both lecture and seminar learning during this module.
China Through Film and Literature
In this module you will first examine the close linkage between literature and cinema in China and the consequences and then explore trends in modern Chinese literature and cinema, with a primary focus on different genres and themes developed since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. By placing Chinese literature and film within their cultural, social and historical contexts, you will analyse, interpret and appreciate such phenomena. You will analyse individual texts in translation and films with English subtitles to increase your awareness of the major developments in literature and film as they are embedded in the wider changes in contemporary China. You will have one 3-hour practical class each week studying this module.
Media and Communications in Globalising China
Media systems are critically important in any modern political system, and this module leads you directly to the heart of understanding how the media relates to contemporary society and politics in the People’s Republic of China. It introduces you to the unprecedented transformation in contemporary Chinese media and communication in the context of economic reforms, development of new media technologies and globalisation through a two hour weekly lecture.
China's Political Economy
This module examines the interaction between politics and economy in China during the economic reform period from 1978 onward. Particular attention will be given to the progress and periods of China’s reform, the political context of major economic policies, reform of major aspects of the economy, evolution of economic institutions, as well as an overview of economic development in China prior to 1978. The module will highlight the role of the political factors and state policies in China’s economy, which is important for a good understanding of the reform and economic development in China. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week.
With an excellent track record of graduate employment, a Nottingham history and contemporary chinese studies degree will prepare you for a wide range of professions. Some of the most popular of these are journalism and publishing, law, business and finance, national and local government, non-governmental organisations (both national and international), administration, teaching, library and museum work, and research-based careers.
A Nottingham history and contemporary chinese studies degree can cater for such a diverse field of employment because the skills that you will acquire are versatile, wide-ranging and transferable. You will learn to think critically, to analyse large amounts of data, to construct logical arguments, to communicate knowledge intelligibly, to work effectively in teams, to manage time and workloads, and to lead discussions and presentations. These skills will develop your capacity to learn and adapt and will therefore equip you with the tools you need to develop your future career.
Your acquired knowledge of contemporary China, both with or without Mandarin language skills, will give you a competitive edge in an increasingly global economy and job market.
For more information on the career prospects of Nottingham History graduates, please visit our Careers page.
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2012, 92% of first-degree graduates in the Department of History who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £19,546 with the highest being £30,000.*
In 2012, 90.9% of first-degree graduates in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £19,333 with the highest being £24,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates, 2011/12.
Careers Support and Advice
Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.
Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.
Scholarships and bursaries
The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help.
There are several types of bursary and scholarship on offer. Download our funding guide or visit our financial support pages to find out more about tuition fees, loans, budgeting and sources of funding.
To be eligible to apply for most of these funds you must be liable for the £9,000 tuition fee and not be in receipt of a bursary from outside the University.
* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.
The International Office provides support and advice on financing you degree and offers a number of scholarships to help you with tuition fees and living costs.
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