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Course overview

Contemporary political ideas and practice are heavily influenced by modern history. For example, the political institutions and culture of contemporary America and France can only be understood with reference to the American and French Revolutions of the late eighteenth century.

Politics and history are complementary disciplines, using different methods of research and analysis. On this course you will use primary and secondary historical sources to research, write and debate history. You'll also learn how to compare and contrast different political institutions, systems and behaviours.

The second year History and Politics: A Problem or Solution? module is specifically designed for this course. In this module, you reflect on the complementary nature of the two disciplines. It sits alongside optional modules, covering a wide chronological and geographical range.

Your departments

For more information on what it's like to study with us, see the:

Why choose this course?

Skills for success

The Department of History is ranked 4th in the UK for graduate prospects 

The Complete University Guide 2021

Double your skillset

Benefit from the skills development and assessment methods of studying two subjects

Follow your interests

Complete an optional year-long history Special Subject module, tailored to your interests

Skills for your career

Develop a broad range of professional skills, including for research, analysis and presentations


Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level AAA
Required subjects

A level history

IB score 34; 6 in history at Higher Level

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We are preparing your tutorials, laboratory classes, workshops and seminars so that you can study and discuss your subjects with your tutors and fellow students in stimulating and enjoyable ways. While we will keep some elements of online course delivery, particularly while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place or where this enhances course delivery, teaching is being planned to take place in-person wherever possible. This will be subject to government guidance remaining unchanged.

We will use the best of digital technologies to support both your in-person and online teaching. We will provide live, interactive online sessions, alongside pre-recorded teaching materials so that you can work through them at your own pace. While the mix of in-person and digital teaching will vary by course, we aim to increase the proportion of in-person teaching in the spring term.

You will be taught via a mixture of large-group lectures and smaller, interactive seminars. You might also be taught through tutorials and supervisions. These are one-to-one meetings or discussions with an academic tutor.

All students are assigned a personal tutor at the start of each academic year. Your personal tutor oversees your academic development and personal welfare.

Teaching quality

97% of our class of 2019 graduated with a 1st or 2:1 degree classification. University of Nottingham Degree Outcomes statement

In the past six years, two of our academics from the Department of History have won Lord Dearing Awards. These awards recognise outstanding student learning and are nominated by students and academic colleagues.

29 of our academics from the Department of History have received Advance HE recognition for their contribution to education, becoming Teaching Fellows.

Peer mentoring

All new undergraduate students are allocated a peer mentor, to help you settle into life at Nottingham. Find out more about the support on offer

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Field trips

How you will be assessed

All assessments in the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online unless there is a professional accreditation requirement or a specific need for on-campus delivery and in-person invigilation.

Your assessments will vary according to the topic studied. The majority of assessment is by essay and exam. However, other forms of assessment include:

  • individual or team presentations
  • work on the interpretation of document sources or images
  • poster presentations
  • reviews and reflections on the process of study

Assessment methods

  • Essay
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam
  • Dissertation

Contact time and study hours

You’ll have at least the following hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and workshops, tutorials and supervisions.

  • Year one: minimum of 12 hours
  • Year two: minimum of 10 hours
  • Final year: minimum of 8 hours

Your tutors will also be available outside these times to discuss issues and develop your understanding. In the latest National Student Survey (2020), 95% of students from the Department of History reported that they ‘were able to contact staff’ when they needed to.

We reduce your contact hours as you work your way through the course. As you progress, we expect you to assume greater responsibility for your studies and work more independently.

Your tutors will all be qualified academics. Some of our postgraduate research students may also support teaching after suitable training. You will have a personal tutor from the Department of History and a joint honours adviser from the School of Politics and International Relations.

Our largest lectures, Learning History, and Introduction to Political Theory are typically attended by up to 350 students, whereas the corresponding seminars have a maximum size of 25. Other popular optional module lectures may be attended by up to 75 students. The history Special Subject groups are limited to a maximum of 18.

As well as scheduled teaching, you’ll carry out extensive self-study such as:

  • reading
  • locating and analysing primary sources
  • planning and writing essays and other assessed work
  • collaborating with fellow students

As a guide, 20 credits (a typical module) is approximately 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Study abroad

  • Explore the world, experience different cultures and gain valuable life skills by studying abroad
  • Options range from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad
  • Language support is available through our Language Centre where required
  • Boost your CV for prospective employers

See our study abroad pages for full information

Placements

Work experience gives you the skills and experience that will allow you to stand out to potential employers and is a crucial part of becoming 'workplace-ready'.

The History Society runs a schools volunteering project, which delivers school lessons and after-school clubs in primary and secondary schools around the Nottingham area.

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Why study more than one subject?

Watch our animation about studying a joint honours degree with us.

Modules

Our first-year core modules are designed as an introduction. This means that we will build everyone's knowledge to the same level, so you can progress through to year two.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Politics core modules (60 credits) – learn about crises and controversies in post-war and contemporary British politics
  • History core module (20 credits) – an introduction to the skills and methodologies of history as a discipline
  • History optional modules (40 credits)

You’ll have at least 12 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year one, but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Understanding Global Politics

This module provides an introduction to the study of international relations.

It focuses on some of the main theoretical approaches in the discipline: ways of explaining and understanding global politics, each of which has developed over time rival accounts both of the features of world politics on which we ought to concentrate and of the concepts that we ought to bring to bear in our analyses. It illustrates each of these broad theoretical approaches - and some of their pitfalls - by introducing the study of some 'structural' aspect of global politics, such as conflict, peace, institutions and globalisation.

The module therefore supplies the introduction to international relations that will be necessary for those who go on to study contemporary global affairs and more advanced modules such as those on international political economy, global security, or foreign policy analysis.

Learning History
This module will provide students with the learning skills necessary to make the most of their studies in History. It concentrates upon their conceptions of the subject and their strategies as learners, in order to enable them more effectively to monitor and develop their skills and understanding. Students will be introduced to different approaches to the study of History as well as to different understandings of what History is for. The module aims to encourage more effective learning in History, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare students for more advanced work in the discipline at year two, and enhance the skills listed.
Introduction to Political Theory

This module introduces you to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Burke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The module will be text based.  

British Political History Since 1945

This module will introduce and interrogate British political history since 1945. The module will take students through key issues and controversies in post-war British politics and as they relate to leaders and governments and key debates over controversies. 

The module will explore a range of issues relating to:

  • economic policy
  • social policy and the welfare state
  • industrial relations
  • foreign and defence policy
  • Europe
  • local government
  • nuclear deterrence

Seminars will employ a range of activity-based scenarios to develop student understanding of key crises experienced by leaders and governments since 1945.  

Choose one of two 20-credit history modules:

From Reformation to Revolution: An Introduction to Early Modern Europe c.1500-1800

This module introduces students 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 c.1500 and 1800. Students 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.

Making the Middle Ages, 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, students 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 spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

History optional modules

Choose 20 credits from a range of 10 and 20-credit modules:

Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1750-1945

This module provides a chronology of modern history from 1750 to 1945. It concentrates 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
  • economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity.
Making of Modern Asia

We will take a somewhat zigzagging journey through 200 or so years of modern Asian history, sampling events across the region and telescoping onto particular moments to examine specific contexts. For example, when looking at the theme of imperialism we will cover the idea broadly and then take a more extended look at Japanese imperialism or British colonialism in Burma.

When looking at nationalism we'll consider the emergence of "official nationalism" in Thailand and Japan, and more popular nationalisms emerging from liberation struggles. On political economy we compare and contrast Taiwan and China to illustrate the different trajectories of market, plan and command rational economies (relatively speaking).

On the question of democracy we consider whether Asian culture warrants an authoritarian form of "Asian democracy" and whether or not democracy can be "built" and engineered as though it were simply a bridge over water.

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.
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 23 April 2021.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Compulsory core module (20 credits) – you will take the integrated module History and Politics: a Problem or a Solution?
  • Optional modules (100 credits) – choose from modules covering a wide chronological and geographical range, with at least two 20-credit history modules and one 20 credit politics module

You’ll have at least 10 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year two, which counts as 33% towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

History and Politics: A Problem or a 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.

Approaches:

  • Marxist analysis
  • Feminist analysis
  • Structure and agency
  • Post-Structuralism

Themes:

  • Culture
  • Democracy
  • Ideology
  • Class

To encourage participants to engage critically with these themes and approaches, they will be required to apply them to a particular empirical setting, namely the political history of post-war Britain. They will do this individually but also collectively in the form of group work and in particular an assessed group presentation, one adapted from Fielding’s work as convenor of the Politics module Power and the State. 

And at least one of:

Crises and Controversies in European Politics

This module aims to provide you with a systematic introduction to current debates in the comparative analysis of European politics.

The module adopts a thematic approach and focuses on both traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as the study of party systems and representation, elections and voting behaviour, party competition and government formation, executive-legislative relations, as well as emerging fields of interest, such as political participation, extreme right politics, immigration, political corruption and the political and social challenges of globalisation and European integration.

The diverse experiences of liberal democracy in European countries and the political and social changes that they have undergone are discussed thematically in the seminars. In the seminars, a country-expert system is used whereby you are assigned a particular country to cover. The module covers both long-established democracies in Western Europe and newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Democracy and its Critics

Democracy is a contested concept and organising principle of politics both ancient and modern. Its appeal seems to be universal, yet it has always had its critics. 

This module investigates the nature of democratic principles, the arguments of democracy's opponents and the claims of those who say that contemporary life is inadequately democratised. A particular feature of the module is the use of primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates.  

How Voters Decide

Elections are the foundation of representative democracy. The act of voting creates a link between citizens' preferences and government policy. This means that the choices voters make have important consequences.

But, how do voters make these choices? Are they based on the policies that parties promise to enact in the future, or is it more about the policy successes (or failures) that parties have experienced in the past? Does the party's leader make a difference? Can campaigns or the media's coverage change how voters see their electoral choices? Finally, given the importance of elections, why do many citizens choose to abstain from the process altogether?

How Voters Decide will explore the choices that citizens make when they participate in elections and it will provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate arguments about electoral behaviour in Britain and beyond.

International Politics in the 20th Century

The module examines issues and themes in 20th-century international politics, from the eclipse of the 19th-century European diplomatic order to the collapse of the global bipolar system at end of the Cold War.

The course is taught from the disciplinary standpoint of international relations rather than that of international history. Therefore, various theoretical perspectives are brought to bear on each of these themes. For instance, we discuss:

  • the broad differences between the disciplines of international relations and international history in respect of explaining and understanding the international politics of the 20th century
  • questions of causality in international relations with reference to the onset of the Cold War
  • questions about political psychology with respect to the Cuban missile crisis
  • questions about prediction and the purposes of theory in relation to the end of the Cold War

History optional modules by region

You will choose at least two 20 credit history modules from a range.

International

Environmental History: Nature and the Western World, 1800-2000
The module is an introduction to the environmental history of the Western World over the past two centuries. It examines the history of environmental ideas and our changing attitudes to animals and nature, alongside the history of human impacts on the environment using the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain as case studies. Topics include species history, the rise of popular movements concerned with the environment, the role of the state in environmental protection, the history of pollution and pesticide use; the National Park movement and the Nature Reserve and the rise of outdoor leisure and recreation. The role of wildlife television and natural history film-making will also be examined.

Great Britain

Kingship in Crisis: Politics, People and Power in Late-medieval England
Political and constitutional history forms the core of this module, which covers a period when kingship in England was a high-risk occupation. From the mid-thirteenth century until the late fifteenth century a series of political crises rocked the English monarchy, resulting in as many as seven depositions. The module investigates the nature of kingship and the circumstances when a king's authority was challenged.
British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939
This module provides a study of British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939. It focuses in particular on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world, such as the making of the ententes, entry into the two world wars, appeasement and relations with other great powers. It also discusses the wider background factors which influenced British policy and touches on such diverse factors as Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.
The Second World War and Social Change in Britain, 1939-1951: Went The Day Well?

This module surveys and analyses social change in Britain during and after the Second World War, up to the end of the Attlee’s Labour government in 1951. Key issues include:

  • changing gender roles and expectations
  • the experience and impact of rationing, bombing, conscription, voluntary service and direction by central government
  • historiographical debates about whether Britain was united against a common enemy
  • propaganda, mass communication and the management of information
  • planning for a post-war world, including the creation of the National Health Service and the reform of the education system
  • post-war reconstruction of cities
  • reactions to the Holocaust, atomic weaponry, returning service personnel, returning Prisoners of War
  • post-war austerity
  • representations of the period and the construction of memory
Consumers & Citizens: Society & Culture in 18th Century England

This thematic module examines the social and cultural world of eighteenth century England in the period when it enters the modern world.

Areas for consideration include:

  • the structure of society
  • constructions of gender and culture
  • family life and marriage
  • the urban world
  • consumerism and culture
  • the press and the reading public
  • crime
  • social protest & the rise of radical politics
Sex, Lies and Gossip? Women of Medieval England
Later medieval England was a patriarchal society. Women were considered of great importance because of their roles as mothers. However, medieval women were also considered to be more passionate and sexual than men; they were considered wile and guileful and it was thought that they spent much of their time gossiping. Using a wide range of translated medieval sources this course will pose questions about how English women overcame and operated within these stereotypical preconceptions. It will examine women in terms of progression through their life cycle from daughters under the protection of their fathers, to the work available to single women, to married women and the law – mothers under the ‘protection’ of their husbands – and then to widows and the increased opportunities available to these women. In doing so, it will examine a number of aspects of medieval women’s lives from female piety to women and work, medieval attitudes to women and sex and the gendered medieval understanding of power and authority. The course will allow students to recover much of the essence of medieval life. Were later medieval English women merely disadvantaged or were they actively downtrodden within a patriarchal society? Further, it considers the extent to which the foundations of modern gender inequalities were established in the middle ages.
A Tale of Seven Kingdoms: Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age England from Bede to Alfred the Great

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, has forced historians to re-evaluate the Anglo-Saxon period and ask new questions about this crucial formative stage of English history. 

The history of much of this period of conversions, conflicts and cultural renaissances is documented by Bede, a monk from Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria (c. 673–735). In 793, the world described to us by Bede was thrown into chaos by a Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne, an event that some Anglo-Saxons interpreted in apocalyptic terms. The subsequent settlement of Vikings across Northern and Eastern England profoundly changed the social, cultural and economic structures of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

This course covers the period from the beginning of the seventh century to the end of the ninth, ending with the reign of Alfred, the only English king to ever achieve the moniker 'the Great'. 

The Victorians: Life, Thought and Culture

The module mixes intellectual, cultural and social history to produce an overview of cultural trends in Britain between c. 1830 and 1901. Key themes include:

  • The Victorians, An Overview
  • Religion: Sin and Redemption
  • Poverty
  • Cities
  • Sanitation
  • Sexuality
  • Consumerism and the Mass Market
  • Entertainment
  • Evolution
Poverty, Disease and Disability: Britain, 1795-1930

This module explores the role of the poverty, disease and disability in shaping lives between 1795 and 1930, and how these intersected with ideas of and attitudes to health and welfare. It also examines representations of poverty, disease and disability in museums and on TV.

Themes include:

  • understanding poverty, disease, disability in an age of progress and reform
  • the problem of the poor? Poverty, the poor law and workhouses
  • studying poverty, disease and disability: sources and representations
  • town versus country - the healthy countryside?
  • housing conditions: the slum
  • disease
  • working conditions
  • disability and the deaf
  • ‘madness’: mental illness in an age of reason
  • hygiene and health care
  • unrest and dissatisfaction: resistance, rebellion and riot

Europe

The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575

This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants. The module will examine 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.

  • Venice and international context
  • The Venetian economy
  • Constitution and administration
  • Venice at war and peace
  • Patricians, citizens and popular classes
  • Women in Venice: wives and workers, whores and nuns
  • Urban fabric
  • Patronage and the arts
  • Artisans and printers
  • Religion and the republic
  • Jews and foreigners
European Fascisms, 1900-1945
The module examines the rise of fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the wake of the First World War, setting this in the context of broader developments towards counter-revolutionary and authoritarian politics in the 1920s and 1930s (e.g. in Spain and Portugal). By comparing Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany with ‘failed’ fascisms in Britain and France, it seeks to understand why certain movements were able to seize power and proved more popular than others. The module examines the social composition of fascist movements, the nature of fascist ideology and the relationship of fascism to the ‘inter-war crisis’, which had economic, political and social dimensions. The practice of the Fascist and National Socialist governments in power is also analysed and compared with particular reference to class repression and attempts to build ‘consent’, policies on ‘race’ and expansion through conquest; the module ends by considering the Axis and genocide during the Second World War.
Central European History: From Revolution to War, 1848-1914

This module aims to encourage students to develop a detailed understanding of the major political, social and economic developments in Central Europe between 1848 and 1914. They should become aware of the main historiographical debates concerning the region and the Habsburg Monarchy in particular.

As a result of their historical studies and analytical thinking, students should enhance and develop a range of intellectual and transferable skills.

De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, c.1970-1990

In the 1970s and 1980s, momentous economic changes swept through traditional industrial regions across the West, turning proud heartlands into rustbelts in less than a generation. As the lights went out in shipyards, steelworks, coal mines and manufacturing plants, a way of life was destroyed for millions of manual workers and their families, with profound repercussions on identities, communities and urban topographies. This module examines the social and cultural impact of de-industrialisation in the north of England, the German Ruhr basin, and the American Midwest, using a wealth of diverse primary sources, from government records to popular music, to tease out what it meant to live through a period of tumultuous socio-economic change. The module takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including:

  • 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.
  • The impact of de-industrialisation on manual workers and their ways of life.
  • Changing ideas of social class.
  • Mass unemployment and its social and cultural consequences.
  • Gender and identity, with a particular emphasis on the crisis of ‘muscular masculinity’.
  • Urban decline and regeneration.
  • Youth and youth subcultures in post-industrial cities.
  • Cultural representations of de-industrialisation, with emphasis on popular music, fiction and feature films.
Germany and Europe in the Short 20th Century, 1918-1990

The aim of the module is to provide knowledge about the history of Germany from the end of World War I to the reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It will provide a perspective based on the role of Germany within the European (and broadly global) context from pariah to relevant actor of the European integration process. It will encompass the process of democratisation in the interwar period, the National Socialist dictatorship and the Holocaust and the post 1945 fragmentation until the reunification. It will also include a reflection on the two German dictatorships and the pre and post-unification politics of memory. 

The stranger next door: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages
The module explores the diversity of ways in which Jews and Christians interacted in middle Ages, seeking to offer alternative views to these of Jews as mere victims in a religious struggle or of economic envy. We will study the complex economic interconnections between the two groups, considering the new approaches to the role of Jewish moneylending and international trade and its connections with structures of power in both communities. The module will also investigate crucial ideas on anti- Semitism and anti-Judaism and will look into case studies of intolerance and conflict between Jews and Christians. Themes to study here are the massacres of Jews in the Rhineland during the First Crusade, the persecution of Jews during the Black Death and the construction of Blood libel and ritual murder accusations. The module will also examine the internal life of the Jewish communities of Western Europe looking at communal organisation and leadership. We will consider differences amongst Jewish communities in different locations of the medieval European landscape in their understanding of Jewish Law and tradition, as well as in their own patterns of interaction with the Christian political and religious authorities in different locations. At the same time, we will explore the common cultural and religious characteristics and the creation of extensive national and supranational Jewish networks. Finally, we will evaluate the historiography on the subject and the changing of perspectives on the history of the Jews in Europe, analysing the debates arisen amongst scholars with their own ideologies, methods and approaches.
Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe

This module deals with an important, but long neglected, aspect of life in the early medieval West - sexual behaviour and attitudes to human sexuality. Key issues include:

  • ancient, medieval and modern theories of sexuality
  • Christian beliefs about the family and marriage, and challenges to these
  • the regulation of sexual behaviour as expressed in law codes and books of penance,  including violent sexual activity
  • alternative sexualities
'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthdox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.
Travel and Adventure in the Medieval World

The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’. The lecture and seminar topics include introduce Travel Writing, Monsters, Maps, Crusades, Merchants, Pilgrims, Explorers, Envoys, Missionaries, and Assassins. Examples are drawn from Jewish, Muslim and Christian experience.

Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900

The module introduces students to the cultural historiography on how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities (covering the period 1840-1900). In particular, it focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change. These provide a number of thematic approaches that will build into a composite picture of how experience was reshaped during this period. Topics may include:

  • ‘Haussmannisation’ processes across Europe and the contested terrain of the boulevard;
  • The development of mapping, surveying and statistics;
  • The bourgeois home as a site of identity, the meanings of interior design;
  • The department store and new contested sites of consumer culture;
  • Photography as a means of both identity-creation and detection;
  • The cultural meanings of pollution and waste;
  • Slum literature as a source of anxiety and control,
  • Museum culture, exhibitions, and the ordering of imperial knowledge.
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.

Asia

From the Tsar to the Emperor: Russia in the Early Modern Period 1547–1725

This module studies the emergence of Muscovite Russia as a major player on the European arena by the early 18th century.

It examines:

  • the rapid territorial and racial expansion from the 16th century and its consequences
  • Muscovy’s first civil war
  • the struggle of the Russian crown to curtail the power of its aristocracy
  • the ground-breaking reforms of Peter I
  • the beginnings of Russia’s slow progress towards Westernisation. 
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.

The Tokugawa World: 1600-1868
This module covers two-and-a-half centuries in Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers. Often characterized as a period of relative stability, it was also a time of profound social, cultural and intellectual change. Lectures and seminars address some of the historical forces that would combine to transform society and lay the foundations for Japan’s subsequent encounters with modernity. Key themes include: the premises of Tokugawa rule, control mechanisms and relations with daimyo lords; the self-imposed policy of seclusion, trade and external relations; transport networks, class mobility and urbanization; the emergence of ‘the Floating World’ and the growth of popular culture; natural disasters, famine and economic crises; the responses of competing schools of thought drawing on Japanese, Chinese and European texts to address problems within Japanese society; the ‘Opening of Japan’ and the collapse of the Tokugawa World.
The Rise of Modern China

This module covers the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. It looks at social, cultural, political and economic developments in this period from a variety of angles and approaches.

The module focuses 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.

International History of the Middle East and North Africa 1918-1995

The module offers a knowledge of key developments in the Middle East and North Africa between the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the emergence of a politicised version of Islam. Students should familiarise themselves with the key historical debates surrounding, for example, the relative impact of regional and international factors and begin to work with some primary documentary material relating to political and diplomatic developments. They will also be encouraged to use primary source material from the region and to consider the role which historical events have played in framing current problems in the Middle East and North Africa.

The British Empire

From East India Company to West India Failure: The First British Empire

This module highlights key debates and themes in the history of the ‘first’ British Empire 1600-1807.

Topics include:

  • trade to the East and colonisation to the West

  • how the British government protected their empire and enforced a trading monopoly within it

  • the loss of the American colonies

  • the impact of abolition upon the valuable slave trade.

The module explores the key themes of ideology and identity; the concept of formal and informal empires and the causes and consequences of historical change.

The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of the slave trade in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902. The module is divided into three major geographic and chronological sections. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed. In the second part, we will focus on India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny (aka “the Sepoy Rebellion”). In the final section, we will discuss Britain’s participation in the “Scramble for Africa” and the rise of “popular imperialism” with the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. The final, pre-revision class meeting will also discuss the metropolitan aspects of empire, examining London’s status as “the Imperial Metropolis.
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994

The purpose of this module is to examine current debates in the historiography about the end of the European empires in African and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics which will feature particularly strongly are

  • the emergence of a variety of different forms of African nationalism
  • the ongoing debate about the uneven economic development of Africa during the last years of empire and the first years of independence
  • the controversies surrounding the numerous colonial wars which were fought during the liberation struggle
  • the significance of race including the question of European settlements and migration
  • the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. Countries which will be examined in particular detail will include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, the Congo, Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Rule and resistance in colonial India, c.1757-1857

This module introduces the history of the British imperial expansion in India from the mid eighteenth century, through to the Rebellion in 1857. It covers:

  • the rise of trade relations with India
  • the growth of territorial rule through war and negotiation with Indian rulers
  • resistance to imperial rule through mutiny
  • the debate over sati (widow immolation)

 

Imagining 'Britain': Decolonising Tolkien et al

Politics optional modules

Choose a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 60 credits from a range, which may include:

Politics and Public Policy in China

This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the politics and public policy of contemporary China. You will be familiarised with useful approaches to the study of Chinese politics.

In the first part of the module, you will develop knowledge and understanding of China's leadership and succession, the structure of the party-state and the role of its major branches, central-local relations, and crisis and epidemic management, from the SARS to Covid19.

In the second part, you will compare and contrast the genesis of mainland China's rudimentary welfare state with the example of Bismarck's German Empire, which is widely credited as the birthplace of the welfare state in Europe.

Following an overview of the policy-making cycle and public administration in China, you will explore the challenges of implementing regulatory and redistributive policies under authoritarian conditions. You will put insights into practice by critiquing public policies in China, ranging from labour and migration through education to health.

British Party Politics

Political parties were central to the British political system throughout the 20th century and remain so at the beginning of the 21st. Despite persistent criticism, and perennial claims of their 'decline', parties are an essential component of any student's understanding of British politics and remain the central means by which the electorate passes judgement on the government. 

This module examines the structure, ideology and history of British political parties. Topics covered include how the major and minor parties fought the 2015 general election, along with a discussion of how parties adapt to change.

Global Security

This module explores issues in global security since the end of the Cold War. It focuses on security in a broad sense, from issues relating to the use of force by states, through to violence by non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, and on to the concept of human security. 

The module builds on the first year modules, Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in international security. It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules that require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.  

International Political Economy and Global Development

This module studies the historical development of international political economy with a specific focus on development as well as the different ways this can be theoretically analysed.

While some speak about the internationalisation of the temporary order, others think in terms of more drastic changes and define them as globalisation. Similarly, while some are very optimistic that increasing free trade administered by the WTO will lead to general development, others argue that this is precisely the mechanism, with which underdeveloped countries are kept in a situation of dependence.

Based on the teaching of background information on different IPE theories and the immediate post-war period, it is these kinds of questions the module will be addressing. The module builds on the first year modules Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in IPE.

It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules, which require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.

Social and Global Justice

'Justice' has been one of the key themes of political theory at least from the time of Plato, as questions of who gets what, when, and why are absolutely central to political discourse. Should people be able to keep what they earn with their talents, or is it only fair to take wealth away from those who have it to give to those who have little? Do different cultures deserve equal 'recognition'? 

Recently these questions of distributive and social justice have taken on a global dimension. Does the developed world have obligations to distant others, and do they have rights against it?

This module will look at these questions from a contemporary perspective, looking at ideas about justice from thinkers such as the utilitarians, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Susan Moller Okin, and Bhikhu Parekh.

Political Parties and Party Systems Around the Globe

This module will offer an overview of political party development and the functioning of party systems in democratic states around the world, with a special focus on post-transitional democracies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Applying a variety of analytical concepts, theoretical approaches and empirical indicators to the study of party politics, the module will highlight the institutional and sociological determinants of party organisation development and system stability as well as the consequences of party failure and party system collapse.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

Scenario 1: specialise in History

You will either take two 20-credit politics modules, a 40-credit Special Subject and 40 credit history dissertation.

OR

Scenario 2: specialise in Politics

You will take a 40 credit politics dissertation, together with two 20 credit politics modules and the 40 credit History Special Subject.

You’ll have at least eight hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year three, which counts as 67% towards your final degree classification.

Scenario 1: specialise in History - core

History Dissertation

During the summer, you will complete a 60-credit dissertation (12-15,000 words) based on primary sources and supervised by a member of staff with expertise in your chosen field.

You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task.

Special Subject

You will focus on a specialised area of history and develops your analysis of primary sources. Examples of 40-credit Special Subject modules, organised by region, include:

Great Britain

  • Anglo-Saxon England in the Age of Bede
  • Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England 
  • The Reign of Richard II
  • The Black Death
  • From Gunpowder Plot to Spanish Match: the Reign of James I (1603-1625)
  • The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652
  • Britain in the Age of the French Revolution: 1789-1803
  • Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
  • Sex and Society in Britain Since 1900
  • British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1960
  • The 1960s and the West, 1958-1974
  • The Politics of Thatcherism, 1975 – 1992

Europe

  • Crisis in Christendom, 1150-1250
  • Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England
  • 'World wasting itself in blood': Europe and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648)
  • European Politics and Society, 1848-1914
  • July Crisis: The Outbreak and Origins of the Great War
  • The Collapse of the Weimar RepublicItaly at War, 1935–45
  • The History of a Relation:Jews in Modern Europe
  • After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s

Russia

  • Russia in Revolution 1905-21
  • Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia

British Empire

  • Imperial Eyes: Race, Gender and Empire in Enlightenment Thought c.1730-1830
  • The Chimera: British Imperialism and Its Discontents, 1834-1919
  • Disease and Domination: The History of Medicine and the Colonial Encounter
  • Suez and the End of Empire

Japan

  • Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78
  • Japan and the Asia-Pacific War: Conflict, Aftermath and Memory

United States

  • Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America

Module descriptions are available on the History BA page

Scenario 2: specialise in Politics - core

Dissertation in Politics and International Relations

This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politic and international relations.

Special Subject

You will focus on a specialised area of history and develops your analysis of primary sources. Examples of 40-credit Special Subject modules, organised by region, include:

Great Britain

  • Anglo-Saxon England in the Age of Bede
  • Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England 
  • The Reign of Richard II
  • The Black Death
  • From Gunpowder Plot to Spanish Match: the Reign of James I (1603-1625)
  • The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652
  • Britain in the Age of the French Revolution: 1789-1803
  • Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
  • Sex and Society in Britain Since 1900
  • British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1960
  • The 1960s and the West, 1958-1974
  • The Politics of Thatcherism, 1975 – 1992

Europe

  • Crisis in Christendom, 1150-1250
  • Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England
  • 'World wasting itself in blood': Europe and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648)
  • European Politics and Society, 1848-1914
  • July Crisis: The Outbreak and Origins of the Great War
  • The Collapse of the Weimar RepublicItaly at War, 1935–45
  • The History of a Relation:Jews in Modern Europe
  • After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s

Russia

  • Russia in Revolution 1905-21
  • Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia

British Empire

  • Imperial Eyes: Race, Gender and Empire in Enlightenment Thought c.1730-1830
  • The Chimera: British Imperialism and Its Discontents, 1834-1919
  • Disease and Domination: The History of Medicine and the Colonial Encounter
  • Suez and the End of Empire

Japan

  • Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78
  • Japan and the Asia-Pacific War: Conflict, Aftermath and Memory

United States

  • Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America

Module descriptions are available on the History BA page

Scenario 1 and 2 Politics optional modules:

Choose two 20 credit modules from a range, which may include:

China in Global Politics

China, as the new and upcoming superpower, has become a focal point of global attention. This module introduces you to the major topics in China’s interaction with the evolution of China’s foreign policy since 1949 as well as its role in the international political economy.

The module will explore how domestic politics and other developments have contributed, on the one hand, to the rise of China as a great power of the first league and to the emergence of a 19th-century European-type of nationalism, on the other.

Much of the module will be an examination of China's political and economic relations with major powers and regions such as the US, Asia, the EU, the UK, Russia and Africa, the responses towards China from these powers and regions, and major issues in their relations. This module will also survey China's role in critical global issue(s) as well as the global order and governance.

Disasters, Politics and Society

Disasters are defined by the United Nations as ‘a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope with using its own resources.’ The failure successfully to reconcile human behaviour with environmental threats has, throughout time and in different places, led to multiple disasters.

This module will examine the relationship between natural hazards and human society, how and why disasters happen and how the impact of disasters can be ameliorated. With reference to cases across the globe, there will be a focus on how social life has mitigated, adapted and evolved in the face of environmental hazards.

We will examine the social, economic and technological processes that mediate the relationship between human society and the natural world. We will examine key themes such as governance, technological innovation, urbanisation and migration, gender, culture and identity, global patterns of production and consumption, health and pandemics, race and class to understand why disasters impact on different people in different ways.

The EU as a Global Power

Against the backdrop of increasingly tense EU-US relations, Brexit, and rising nationalism in Europe, this module analyses the European Union's international role. It first introduces concepts and decision-making processes related to EU foreign policy both, by Member States and EU institutions. In particular, we analyse the processes within the European Communities, and the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policies) / CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policies) frameworks.

The module then critically assesses security and economic policies towards Africa, the Middle East and China. Themes to explain the nature of contemporary EU foreign policies include: European integration, intergovernmentalism and supranationalism, neoliberalism and ethical foreign policy, development aid (including for health and education) and diplomacy, post-colonialism, as well as military and civilian means for conflict-management.

Gender and Political Representation

What does it mean to be represented in politics? This module uses gender as a prism through which to view intersectional debates on political representation. We ask what women’s representation is, what it looks like in political institutions, how gender norms shape access to and participation in political institutions, why women's representation matters for policy outcomes, how it impacts on social movements and voting behaviour, and how it matters in global governance.

Our approach is broadly comparative, focussing on theories and case examples from both high-income countries in the Global North and low- and middle-income countries in the Global South. Our wide selection of countries also allows us to consider what role women’s participation can have in quality of governance and democracy. We recognize that global norm diffusion is key to boosting women’s representation, from gender quotas and gender mainstreaming in the UN's Beijing Platform for Action to the gender equality provisions in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and our discussions will also be of interest to students of international relations. The module engages with diverse perspectives and methodologies and will enable students to develop transferable skills in analytical literacy that can be applied across the social sciences.

Ideas and Politics in Contemporary Britain

The aim of this module is to explain and assess the nature and role of ideas and ideologies in British politics. It examines how and why the policies of the 'mainstream' British parties (Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) have been affected by ideas and ideologies, on the one hand, and by political pragmatism, on the other. 

It also explores the ideas, ideologies and policies of minor parties and 'new social movements' (ecologism; fascism, Nazism and racism; feminism; multiculturalism, and nationalism) and their significance for the study and practice of politics in Britain today.

Middle East and the World

This module covers:

  • Introduction – background history, empire and its importance, Sykes Picot
  • 1910-20s - WW1 and Balfour Declaration
  • 1930-40s inc. Palestine, WW2, beginning of the Cold War and creation of Israel
  • Cold War and the Middle East - Egypt and Suez, and Arab-Israel conflict
  • Turkish history and politics – including foreign policy
  • Nationalism – Kurdish and Pan-Arab
  • “Terrorism” – Iranian revolution, Iranian hostage crisis, Palestinian issue, Lebanon, Libya, plus the end of the Cold War – USSR to Russia, Chechen wars x2, Arab-Israel again. Islamic state - religion/terrorism/nationalism nexus
  • 1990s - First Gulf War and policing Iraq (including Iran-Iraq war 1980s). Authoritarianism as a legacy of the Cold War – Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya
  • 2000s - Iraq War
  • 2010s: The Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil war
  • Legacy and contemporary issues – Iran nuclear issue, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
Political Challenges and Multiple Crises in the Global Economy

The global economy presents a wide variety of political challenges and can create multiple types of crisis for states and the actors within it. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the whole system under pressure and revealed its fragility.

This module analyses some of these challenges and crises, which range from sovereign default to the global free trade system and the impact of climate change, to help us understand and explain the international political economy. It draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations theory, international political economy, security studies, and economic history to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of global politics.

Democratic Backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe

This module studies the politics of democratic backsliding in East and Central Europe. During the last three decades the region of East and Central Europe has undergone a historically unprecedented development of democratic transition from communism, the establishment and consolidation of democratic institutions, political parties and party systems, as well as the integration into Western political, economic and security alliances, most notably the European Union. Recent trends towards democratic backsliding in the region have cast doubt on the success of post-communist transformation.

This module focuses on the politics of democratic backsliding in East and Central Europe in the context of contemporary debates surrounding the de-consolidation of democracy across the globe.

The Politics of Ethnic Conflict

Questions relating to nationalism and ethnic conflict have become more prominent in political debate since the end of the Cold War, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the continuing importance of constitutional crafting as a means to manage ethnic diversity within states. 

This module evaluates differing definitions of the 'nation' and 'ethnic group', examines different state strategies to manage diversity such as multiculturalism, assimilation and integration, and considers different explanations of conflict between different ethnic groups. 

It then examines in more detail strategies adopted by particular states to manage their diversity. The countries of India, America, France, Afghanistan, the UK, and Germany are focused upon, but students are encouraged to use material relating to other countries if they have particular knowledge of these cases.

Politics Placement

This module involves a part-time placement (one day a week) in an external organisation, and is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to students of politics. Pre-placement training will be provided via three half-day workshops at the beginning of the module.

Each placement will be arranged by the work placement officer. Placements will be provided by organisations involved in private, public and third sector organisations, such as the civil service, charities and political parties.

Departmental mentoring will take the form of a weekly drop-in tutorial with the module convenor, in which experiences are shared and work is undertaken on the assessment tasks. Group presentations will occur during the final four hour workshop, at which time each group will critically reflect on their experiences of the ethos and goals of their host organisation.

Populism, Elites and Democracy

Populism is a contentious term. Over the last few decades we have witnessed a surge of ideologically diverse populist movements with strong democratically elected leaders acting in the name of ‘the people’ across the globe. For some, populism is illiberal, anti-pluralist and a danger to democracy; for others, it is the ultimate democratic act of popular sovereignty.

This module examines the controversial relationship between populism and democracy. It surveys key theoretical developments in democratic theory and the populist literature to compare mainstream and alternative definitions/conceptualisations of populism. The modules examines the problematic relationship of elites (‘the 1%’) – whether financial, social or political – in relation to liberal democracy and the masses (‘the 99%’). It explores concepts and events key to the populist surge, such as ‘post-truth’ politics, the polarisation of politics, the ‘friend/enemy’ relation, ‘us versus them’ relation, ‘elites’, ‘democratic leadership’, ‘representation’, the 2019 prorogation of the British Parliament, and ‘identification’.

You will have the opportunity to examine a range of different progressive and regressive populist leaders/associations, such as: Donald Trump, Vikor Orbán, Hugo Chávez, Brexit 2016, the UK general election 2019, the Yellow vests movement, the Danish People’s Party, Fidesz, the People’s Party, Occupy, Syriza, Podemos, Jobbik and Alternative for Germany.

Responding to Violent Extremism

This module will bridge the gap between academic study and pragmatic policy. It will consider how extremist ideas come into politics through extremist versions of ideology and religion, based on theories of prominent writers in the field.

It will consider political ideologies’ reliance on power and the role of violence through past case studies such as anarchism, Nazism and religious extremism. The module will also look at responses to terrorism utilising a case study approach that explores the United Kingdom’s and United States of America’s methods.

Russia and Great Power Politics: From Lenin to Putin

"Russia is a Great Power or it is nothing” – this belief has dominated Russian foreign policy thinking in the past as it does today. The module develops an understanding of Russia’s international politics in historical perspective – from the October Revolution in 1917 until today. Why is being a Great Power so important to Moscow and how successful has the country been in achieving and maintaining this status in the international system? What is Russia’s self-perception as an international actor and how does this contrast with the country’s international image?

Within the framework of relevant theoretical approaches to the study of international relations, the module will focus on a wide range of historical events and developments that will lead to a better understanding of Russia’s role in the world today. Themes to be discussed will include, amongst others:

  • Stalinism and Soviet foreign policy
  • Gorbachev’s ‘New Thinking’
  • Military power and foreign policy
  • Russia and its neighbours
  • The annexation of the Crimea
  • Human rights and international relations
Secret Intelligence and International Security

This module is an introduction to the concepts and practices of secret intelligence and its place within international security. The module is split into three sections.

The first examines conceptual issues and models; the second explores some of the roles of intelligence in the 21st century; and the third examines how intelligence actors can actively shape international relations. These are highly relevant issues, which are regularly in the media. 

Special Relationship? Anglo-American Security Relations

The Anglo-American so-called 'Special Relationship' has provoked controversy since the term was coined after World War Two. To some commentators it has represented an attempt by the UK to hide its decline by lofty rhetoric and becoming the 'poodle' of a Superpower. To others, it has been a relationship that has served the interests of both countries and provided a foundation for Western cooperation.

This module explores the salient aspects of a relationship that has been built around security, conventional and nuclear. On the one hand, it investigates areas of collaboration, such as nuclear and intelligence sharing, where the US and the UK have worked closely together. On the other, it uncovers issues that have provoked tension between the two sides and it seeks to understand the depth of these disagreements.

The first part of the module looks at the period of the Cold War, when both countries were focused on the threat from the Soviet Union. The second part of part of the module looks at the post-Cold War period and how the relationship has fared amidst the US-led War on Terror and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The War in Iraq

This module will comprehensively deconstruct the causes, conduct and consequences of one of the most controversial wars of the modern era: the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It will assess how the road to war was paved at the United Nations and through the formulation of a 'coalition of the willing'. It will then critically evaluate how the swiftly concluded invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein gave way to a vicious insurgency.

The adaptation of the US military to the demands of counter-insurgency warfare will be analysed, as will British military performance in southern Iraq. The module will end by critically assessing the effectiveness of the 'surge' strategy under the implementation of Gen. David Petraeus, and evaluating the utility of 'analogical reasoning' through comparisons with the Vietnam War.  

The International Politics of Human Rights

Why are some states better at protecting, respecting, and fulfilling their human rights obligations, while others are not? Understanding the conditions under which governments protect human rights is crucial for the field of International Relations and policy makers alike. This module will discuss cutting-edge research within and beyond the human rights field.

You will learn about autocratic state behaviour, safeguards within democratic systems, the campaigns and challenges of NGOs and international organisations, and the wide-ranging effects of globalisation across the different categories and dimensions of human rights. The module will apply theory and empirical insights from these different fields of inquiry in order to understand the relative protection and enjoyment of human rights across different country contexts.

By the end of the module, you will have a clear understanding about human rights research and its effects on the real world.

From Dictatorship to Democracy and Back?

At the dawn of the 21st century, the status of democracy across the world is uncertain. In Central and Eastern Europe, it has become the only game in town, but in other regions like Russia or the Arab World it has suffered reversals. To make sense of these events, this module examines and is structured around some of the big, important questions that have long interested political scientists around the questions of democracy.

What is democracy? Why are some countries democratic and others not? How did democracy emerge in different countries? What difference does democracy make for people's lives? The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on the design, functioning and influence of democratic institutions.

History Special Subject areas

Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia

This module explores twentieth-century Russian history through the analysis of:

  • film
  • literature
  • visual art
  • architecture
  • first-person testimonies (diaries, letters, memoirs, etc.)
  • political texts
  • scholarly commentaries.

Themes include:

  • the role of culture in late imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet Russia
  • the meanings and forms of ‘culture’ in the past
  • the significance of ideas and ideology in political and social change
  • the nature of power, authority and legitimacy, and of dissidence, opposition and resistance
  • the construction of social identities
  • the political and social roles of history and collective memory
  • the social structures of space and place.

Module convener: Dr Nick Baron

Victorians in Italy: Travelling South in the Nineteenth Century

This module examines the history of travel to and within Italy in accounts written by British travellers in the period c.1780-c.1914, especially these key topics:

  • methodologies necessary for analysing travel writing as historical evidence
  • the nature of the 'Grand Tour', including the experiences of women travellers
  • collecting and the development of notions of taste
  • the changing nature of travel writing in the nineteenth century, including the Romanticisation of travel
  • the appearance of middle class travellers as 'tourists'
  • the 'guide book', a new genre of writing
The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe
This special subject surveys and analyses the place of Jews in modern European history. Throughout the modern period, Jews lived in Europe as part of a minority. The module is concerned to analyse the enduring, productive and resilient relation between Jews and non-Jews. It is the contention of this module that the story of the relationship’s development and evolution can tell us a great deal of the history of Europe as a whole.
The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652

This module surveys and analyses political, religious, social, cultural and military changes during the civil wars fought across the British Isles and the British Atlantic between 1639 and 1652. The major topics to be explored include:

  • the causes of the civil wars
  • the mobilisation of civilian communities
  • the course of the civil wars
  • the impact of war on individuals and communities
  • religious and political change
  • the growth of religious and political radicalism
  • print culture and propaganda
  • the changing roles of women
  • the issues surrounding the public trial and execution of the king
  • the abolition of the British monarchy and the House of Lords
  • the ‘Celtic dimension’ of the conflict
  • the Civil Wars in the British Atlantic
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78

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 four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.

Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England

This module explores religious ‘faith’ in England from c. 1215 to the beginning of the Reformation in 1534.

The English church made great efforts in this period to consolidate Christianity amongst the masses through wide-reaching programmes of instruction, regulation and devotion. However, historians disagree as to how successful the church was in its efforts.

The module investigates the relationship between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ religion and examines how the church sought to maintain its authority in matters of faith. It asks how people responded and the degree to which they fashioned their own religious practices and beliefs. It also considers the violent repression by church and crown of those deemed ‘heretics’.

It looks at the condemned teachings of the Oxford academic John Wycliffe and the significance of those who followed his ideas, known as Lollards.

Module convener: Dr Rob Lutton

The Black Death

In 1348 the Black Death arrived in England. By 1350 the disease had killed half of the English population. The module concentrates upon the stories of the epidemics' survivors and what they did to adapt to a world turned upside down by plague. It examines the impact of this unprecedented human disaster upon the society and culture of England between 1348 and 1520. It examines four particular groups of survivors:

  • Peasants
  • Merchants
  • Gentry
  • Women

The module explores English society through translated medieval sources. Themes include:

  • Impact of the Black Death
  • Religious and scientific explanations of the plague
  • Changes in peasant society and how peasants lived after the plague  Merchants, their lives, businesses and shifting attitudes towards them
  • Gentry society and culture in the fifteenth century and the development of an entrepreneurial ‘middling sort’
  • Women’s lives and experiences in a post-plague patriarchal society The module poses a simple question: How central is the Black Death in explanations of long-term historical change and the evolution of the modern world?
After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s

In the historiography, the 1970s and 1980s are often referred to as a ‘landslide’ (E. Hobsbawm) or a ‘time of troubles’ (A. Marwick) for the West, which, it is argued, followed upon the ‘Golden Age’ of material affluence and cultural liberalisation that characterised the post-war period. At the same time, historical scholarship is only just beginning to make inroads into a field that has been extensively documented by cultural critics, the media and the social sciences. The module will engage critically with the dominant conceptualisation of the 1970s and 1980s as crisis decades and ask about the contribution that Contemporary History can make to our understanding of the period. It focuses on the UK and W-Germany as case studies, but will also look at developments in the West more broadly, exploring economic, social and cultural change as well as continuity. It takes thematic approaches, analysing topics including:

  • Détente and the second Cold War;
  • the crisis of industrialism and structural economic change;
  • social change and continuity, with special emphasis on the class structure;
  • the disintegration of consensus politics and the rise of the New Right;
  • liberalisation, new social movements and cultural politics;
  • domestic terrorism, the public and the state; heritage, memory and nostalgia.
British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1950

The module explores the cultural transformations in Britain brought on by the shift to a Fordist economy (roughly covering the period 1920-50), and the social and cultural contestations that resulted. It takes chronological and thematic approaches, and topics may include:

  • New experiences of factory work and the rationalisation of diverse areas of everyday life;
  • New forms of advertising and commodity culture, and the anxieties and opportunities these produced;
  • New forms of industrial urban leisure (e.g. the cinema and dance hall) and their role in promoting social change;
  • Performances of self-hood and the contested politics of movement and habit;
  • The perceived impact of Americanisation on national traditions, values and ways of life;
  • The rise of the ‘expert’ across a range of fields to manage working-class behaviour;
  • The development of social science and the problems of knowing ‘the masses’; Post-WW2 reconstruction and the early years of the Welfare State;
Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America
Once dismissed as the “Me Decade” (Tom Wolfe), or a time when “it seemed like nothing happened” (Peter Carroll), the 1970s have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent American historical scholarship. This module introduces students to the narratives of crisis and decline that defined the 1970s and which helped make the decade such a transformative period in American life - recasting the United States and its society, politics and culture in significant and far-reaching ways - whilst encouraging students to think critically about those narratives and their utility for subsequent processes of political, socio-economic and cultural change. We will explore developments such as the growth of identity politics and the cult of the individual, debates over American foreign policy abroad and social policy at home, the rise of populist conservatism, the market and neo-liberalism, anxieties over the city, the environment and the political system, and a broader political and cultural power shift from Rustbelt to Sunbelt, as we seek to understand why the 1970s are now regarded as the decade “that brought us modern life - for better or worse” (David Frum).
Imperial Eyes: the Body in Enlightenment Thought, c.1730-1830

This module explores the role of empire and ideas of race, gender and disability in the eighteenth-century enlightenment. The module includes topics such as:

  • What role colonial encounter played in Enlightenment theories of human development
  • How Enlightenment scholars imagined bodily difference
  • The place of the slave trade in Enlightenment thought
  • Enlightenment ideas of the body, sexuality and disability
  • Colonized people's responses to Enlightenment thinking
Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England

This module evaluates the ways in which ideas during the Renaissance had an impact on both long-distance exploration and interstate relations. Also, of primary importance will be situating Tudor England in a pan-European context, thereby helping students better understand the rise of this island nation to become a global superpower. Topics covered will include:

  • Renaissance attitudes to human potential
  • Motivations for overseas exploration and travel
  • Beginnings of European imperialism
  • Continuities and changes in diplomacy
  • Religion and foreign policy
  • Travel literature and cultural diplomacy
  • Xenophobia and cosmopolitanism
Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
International history is dominated by wars; historians and international relations scholars focus with an almost obsessive zeal on the causes and consequences of conflict. The intermittent periods of peace are rarely scrutinised, other than to assess the imperfections of peace treaties and thus extrapolate the seeds of future wars. This module offers a corrective to this tendency, taking as its focus the multifarious efforts that have been made since 1815 to substitute peace for war. These include diplomatic efforts (e.g. post-war conferences, legalistic mechanisms such as the UN, arms control protocols, etc.), and those advanced by non-state actors (e.g. national and transnational peace movements, anti-war protests, etc.). Taking a broad definition of the term peace , and focusing predominantly (though not exclusively) on Britain, this module revisits some of the pivotal episodes of the 19th and 20th centuries, exposing and interrogating the often complex relationship between war and peace that emerged, and thus arriving at an alternative history of the period.
A Green and (un) Pleasant Land? Society, Culture and the Evolution of the British Countryside

This module explores the relationship between society, culture and the British countryside between 1800 and 1918. It examines both perceptions and realities, and reveals a dynamic British countryside which both reflected and shaped society and culture and forged an enigmatic relationship with the urban. Themes include:

  • perceptions and popular representations of the British countryside
  • constructing a rural idyll
  • Englishness and national identity
  • exposing the reality of living and working conditions in the countryside
  • the (un) healthy countryside? - poverty, disease and insanity
  • the agency of the labouring population
  • the radical countryside
  • constructing gender in the British countryside
  • the leisured countryside
  • animal-human relations
  • the preservation and conservation movement 
  • the evolving relationship between town and country
  • public history: representations of the British countryside 
The past that won't go away: the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
This module examines the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), its underlying causes and legacy for present-day Spain. Commencing with the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931, students will consider the principal historical forces and conditions that gave rise to the outbreak of war in 1936 in Spain. The module is delivered through a combination of lecture and student-led seminars in which students present their understanding of a specific historical event, theme or ideas through their study of primary and secondary sources, and respective historiographical debates. Thus, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the war through propaganda, myth, revolutionary ideology, anti-clerical and gendered violence, as well as, for example, the significance of Badajoz and Guernica. The conflict is also considered in the wider context of the ‘European Civil War’; specifically, the role of military interventions on the part of regimes in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union, and the influence of non-interventions by Britain and France. Using Helen Graham’s notion of the ‘past that won’t go away’, the module concludes with a reflection on the legacy of the Civil War in contemporary Spain.
From Revelation to ISIS: Apocalyptic Thought from the 1st to 21st Century
The need to infuse the present moment with apocalyptic meaning is an important theme in the history of ideas. Concerns about the day of judgement, Antichrist, the millennium and the end of time have a significant impact upon many different individuals and societies throughout history, finding expression in literature, architecture and a wide variety of artistic media. In some cases, apocalyptic anxiety directly influenced the actions of kings, emperors, ecclesiastical leaders and religious communities. Students will uncover systems of belief about the end of history and trace the impact of such traditions upon states, societies and religious institutions.
Plague, Fire and the Reimagining of the Capital 1600-1720: The Making of Modern London

In 1665, London suffered the worst plague epidemic since the Black Death, killing over 97,000 people. The following year, the Great Fire destroyed four-fifths of the ancient City of London within three days. This module explores the impact of these events and places them within the context of the 1660s and the city’s past and future history.

We will investigate how Londoners across the social spectrum responded to natural disasters and crises, the challenges that these presented to community values and group identities and how the spread of news reflected fears over religious difference and terrorist plots. The module also examines the changing character of the city across the period including concerns over health, the environment and the use of green space.

Transnationalising Italy: A History of Modern Italy in a Transnational Perspective

The module looks at the history of modern Italy (19th-21 century) from a transnational framework in order to illuminate different facets of the connections between Italy and the wider world. The module makes use of the methodological innovations of a transnational approach to put emphasis on movement, interaction, connections and exchange. It examines key moments and developments in the history of modern Italy by addressing the connections and circulations (of ideas, people, and goods) that cross borders. 

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (e.g. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements e.g. work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Optional field trips

Field trips allow you to engage with source materials on a personal level and to develop different perspectives. They are optional and costs to you vary according to the trip; some require you to arrange your own travel, refreshments and entry fees, while some are some are wholly subsidised.

For additional costs relating to Politics, please see the Politics and International Relations BA course page.

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. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* 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.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

As a History and Politics graduate, you will have gained the following key transferable skills:

  • critical thinking
  • data analysis
  • constructing logical arguments
  • communication
  • teamworking
  • presentation

View our History graduate profiles

You can learn more about subject-related careers opportunities from our Careers and Employability Services:

Average starting salary and career progression

82.9% of undergraduates from the School of Politics and International Relations secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £26,736.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

75.1% of undergraduates from the School of Humanities secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,180*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

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.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.