This degree is aimed at students who are particularly interested in modern history and contemporary political issues. Through a wide range of history modules you will develop the skills to write and debate history and to use primary sources. In politics you will learn to compare and contrast different political institutions, systems and behaviours, and gain a thorough understanding of the history of political ideas.
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 developing the skills required for the writing and debating of history. You will also take further survey modules in European history. In politics, you will take modules in contemporary political theory, comparative politics and international relations. You will learn to compare and contrast political institutions and behaviour in liberal democracies and gain a thorough understanding of the history of political ideas.
The core element in Year Two is provided by a compulsory module specifically designed to ensure the intellectual coherence of this degree – History and Politics: A problem or solution? This module permits students to reflect on the complementary nature of the two disciplines as well as on ways in which they may be considered distinct from one another with regards to their methods of research and analysis. This module sits alongside other more specific optional modules, covering an extremely wide chronological and geographical range. In politics your options must be chosen from three designated ‘core’ areas, namely political theory, comparative politics, and international relations.
In year three you will write a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice in either history or politics. In history, your dissertation will normally be linked to your Special Subject, a year-long, in-depth, research-based module, which you may select from a very broad menu. You will also take further politics options.
Please visit the Department of History and School of Politics and International Relations websites.
A levels: AAA, usually including an A in history at A level (general studies and critical thinking are not accepted for A level).
English language requirements
IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
Pearson Test of English (Academic) 67 (minimum 55)
We recognise that applicants have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education.
Consequently we treat all applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) on an individual basis, and we gladly accept students with a whole range of less conventional qualifications including:
Access to HE Diploma
BTEC Extended Diploma
This list is not exhaustive. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.
Please see the alternative qualifications page for more information.
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 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 usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Political Ideas in Revolution
You’ll be introduced to some of the founding fathers of political thought such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli and Hobbes. The evolution of political thought such as the concepts of liberty, equality and the Enlightenment will also be examined. You’ll consider their impact on modern political thought and practice, bringing together key political ideas with historical development. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Problems in Global Politics
For this module, joint honours students will explore a range of issues in contemporary international relations. It focuses on the problems of security and insecurity since the end of the Cold War. You’ll learn to develop critical and reflective thinking using a variety of approaches and methods related to the study of global politics. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Power and State
In this module you will compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern states by examining different topics such as Democratic and Authoritarian Rule, Political Culture and Legal and Constitutional Frameworks. You’ll also be introduced to the method of comparative politics and theory testing. There is a mix of lectures, seminars and workshops on different weeks. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
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 organisation; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars 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 usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars 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 usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
History and Politics: A problem or solution?
This unique and innovative module invites students to think for themselves about the relationship between two seemingly different disciplines, both theoretically and empirically, by encouraging them to reflect on broader conceptual and methodological issues and then apply these to their own understanding of the concept of ‘consensus’ as it is often applied to post-war British history. The module has two principal functions. First, it provides students with an understanding of various methodological approaches that have been applied to the study of political phenomena. In doing so, it will encourage them to develop a more sophisticated critical engagement with the arguments that they encounter. Second, it enhances students’ understanding of some of the concepts that are central to the study of history and politics. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Democracy and its Critics
You will examine the concept and organisation of democracy using primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates. You’ll consider the principles and arguments of democracy and its critics as well as the future for democracy in the context of accelerating globalisation. A variety of approaches and methods will be used to help you develop your skills for the study of political theory. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Civilisation and Barbarism
You’ll explore some of the major themes of international relations using a variety of different sources including novels, essays, manifestos, treatise and film. Power and Order is the underlying theme linking together areas such as imperialism, emancipation, human rights, terrorism and torture among others. The interconnectivity between all of these areas and the sources will help you appreciate texts from the breadth of your studies. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
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 usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
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-13th 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 usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
The Venetian Republic, 1450–1575
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later 15th and 16th 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 usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
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 usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
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 usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
You will also attend a non-assessed weekly lecture module throughout the year called ‘Doing History’. This builds on the first-year core module Learning History and aims to develop your awareness of the craft of the historian, developing essential skills to get the most out of your second-year options and enabling you to determine what sort of historian you are. It also operates as a bridge to your third and final year, permitting you to make informed decisions about your choice of Special Subject, third-year options, and dissertation.
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. You can also choose a topic in politics instead.
Politics and Drugs
This module examines the implications of narcotics abuse for the political system from both a national and international perspective. Contemporary British drug policy will be the explored and questions raised by drug control policy will be discussed. You will consider the production, consumption and trade of drugs as a global problem. You will spend around three hours a week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
This module introduces a range of debates concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to give you an appreciation of the importance of the issue. The reasons for states to develop or acquire WMDs will be explored through core concepts such as deterrence, the security dilemma and organisation theory. You will discuss whether WMDs are good or bad and if Britain should build a missile defence system among other topics. Three hours a week are spent in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78
This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the 19th 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. Three hours a week are spent in lectures and seminars 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.
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.
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’. Three hours a week are spent in lectures and seminars for this module.
With an excellent track record of graduate employment, a Nottingham History and Politics degree will prepare you for a wide range of professions. Some of the most popular of these are journalism, publishing, law, business and finance, national and local government, non-governmental organisations (both national and international), administration, the foreign service, teaching and research-based careers.
A Nottingham History and Politics degree can cater for such a diverse field of employment because apart from gaining specialist knowledge about past societies and cultures and present-day politics and international affairs, many of 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.
For more information on the career prospects of Nottingham History and Politics graduates, please visit our Careers page.
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2013, 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 £20,177 with the highest being £33,000.*
In 2013, 94% of first-degree graduates in the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,498 with the highest being £60,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates, 2012/13.
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 your degree and offers a number of scholarships to help you with tuition fees and living costs.
Key Information Sets (KIS)
KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.
Time in lectures, seminars and similar
Although this figure may appear low, you will undertake a module during your studies which involves over 90% of independent learning. This module is usually a dissertation, thesis or research project and will provide the opportunity to gain research and analytical skills as well as the ability to work independently. You will have a higher percentage of contact hours for other modules.