About the course
On our BA History and Sociology, you are encouraged to explore the ways in which the two disciplines influence and inform one another.
As a student of history, you discover both the early modern and modern periods, and explore challenging questions concerning the impact of political, social and cultural change on individuals, social groups, and regions.
As a sociologist, you investigate what connects people with each other, as well as what divides them. We consider every aspect of our daily lives, from how we relate to politicians, celebrities and friends, to how we define ourselves, our families, and others. You study topics ranging from digital media and society, to psychiatry and mental illness, to Japanese culture, to the art, film and personal testimony of war.
You have the opportunity to choose modules from a wide range of specialisms, including:
- Colonialism and the British Empire
- Urban life in Germany
- Social divisions, inequality, the nature of work and commercial culture
- Culture, identity and subjectivity
- Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights
Our Department of History has developed a strong research and teaching profile, with the majority of our research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). We also have strong links with the Essex Record Office, which is one of the best county record offices in the UK.
Our Department of Sociology is Top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the majority of its research is rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education through providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
We have exchange partners in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Japan.
When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
Our expert staff
Our history staff welcome you into our scholarly community, and value your views. Our teaching and research concentrates on the period from 1500 to the present and covers a wide geographical area that includes British and European history as well as Latin America, the USA, China, Russia and Africa.
Our world-leading sociology academics have their fingers on the pulse of modern society; whether it’s the battle between Apple and Spotify or the exploitation of female bodybuilders, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research into your course.
As well as publishing bestselling books, our academics have appeared in radio and television broadcasts such as Professor Mike Roper on the BBC World Service broadcast, London: The Psychology of War and Professor Pam Cox in the BBC TWO series Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter and Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs.
- We have several Special Collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library
- You have access to the UK Data Archive, a national service provider of digital resources for historians, which is particularly strong in 19th and 20th century economic and social history, and stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
- Our students’ Sociology Society is a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates
- We have links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library
- Access a variety of textbooks and journals in our Albert Sloman Library which houses materials on Latin America, Russia and the US that are of national significance
As a history student, you can acquire skills which employers in all fields value. You learn to analyse information and communicate your ideas clearly, to understand foreign cultures and new ideas, and to grasp new systems quickly. All of these skills are highly transferable to the world of work.
Some of our graduates go into subject-related fields such as teaching, museum curation and archiving, while others have gone on to do very different things, including journalism, law, politics and civil service.
A history degree prepares you for a wide range of careers. Some of our recent graduates have found employment as:
- A chartered accountant
- A policy analyst
- An operations manager
- A planning officer
We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.
Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.
In your first year you choose between The Making of the Modern World 1776-1989 and Society, Culture and Politics in Europe 1500-1750. You don't take both.
In your final year you choose between the Independent Research Project and Research Project: Sociology. You do not take both.
How can sociology help you understand the world in which you live? What are some of the major features and trends in present-day societies? Using sociological tools, you analyse key features of different societies, such as stratification, poverty, racism, consumption, multinational corporations, religion, and the gender division of labour in low-income countries.
View 'The Sociological Imagination' on our Module Directory
What research methods do sociologists use? And what are the methodologies underpinning them? Wish to learn how to critically evaluate social research? And receive training in collecting quantitative and qualitative data? We study the principles of social science investigation and how to carry out original research.
View 'Researching Social Life I' on our Module Directory
Gain the necessary tools with which to study history at university level. You will be introduced to history as an academic discipline and will develop the skills employed by professional historians, as well as gaining key transferable skills. This module has no single geographical focus, but uses examples from a range of different historical themes, time periods and countries.
View 'Becoming a Historian' on our Module Directory
This is the early modern period, a span of around 250 years often regarded by historians as a time of change and a watershed between the medieval and modern worlds. Gain an understanding of this important time by looking at Europe in economic, social, cultural and political contexts. Study the patterns of continuity and change which shaped this period, and reflect on the extent to which the Europe we live in today has been conditioned by these 250 years.
View 'Society, Culture and Politics in Europe 1500-1750 (optional)' on our Module Directory
You are introduced to the global history of empires, states, societies and cultures and the transnational experience of individuals, whilst retaining a grounding in the development of specific nation states and communities in the modern period. You consider how the inter-connectedness of humanity, the nature of flows between people, and the varying character of the societies of which they are a part can be highlighted through a focus on world-spanning phenomena.
View 'Themes in Global History (optional)' on our Module Directory
This module will illuminate everything you study in history. It encourages you to think about the many and diverse ways in which historians approach the writing of history. You’ll be introduced to important historical concepts that have shaped recent historical writing, such as microhistory, class, gender and race, or to an important historical theme, such as consumption, literary history and global history.
View 'Making Histories: Concepts, Themes and Sources' on our Module Directory
Discover how historians communicate their work and what skills they use. This module focuses on the labour market. Explore how your abilities can be presented as convincingly as possible, and learn how your skills fit different careers. You’ll also look at the range of opportunities available and the choices our former history students have made. There will be visits from former students and other experts who talk about the professions they decided to go into.
View 'History Works: Beyond Your BA' on our Module Directory
What methods are used in carrying out empirical sociological research? How do you critically analyse approaches to social research? And what are the skills required to undertake such research? We introduce the statistical foundations for empirical research and methods of analysis for qualitative data, building practical skills for your final-year project.
View 'Researching Social Life II (optional)' on our Module Directory
You will study European medicine from the decline of Galenism to the brink of germ theory, and explore the major changes in medical thinking during this period. Gain an understanding of the differences and similarities between Britain and France, especially when considering the "birth of the clinic" around 1800. You also investigate the changing character of doctor-patient relations, the rise of the man-midwife and the politics of medical professionalisation.
View 'Medicine and Society in Britain and France 1700-1860 (optional)' on our Module Directory
What were local communities like in the 19th century? How was life structured? What changes were they undergoing? This module focuses on the study of communities, both urban and rural, in England and Wales. You’ll examine aspects of community life through selected sources, including census material, digital databases, parish registers, trade directories, enclosure awards, tithe apportionments, Poor Law and charity records, newspapers, and housing records.
View 'Reconstructing Family, Residence, Work and Communal Life in Victorian England (optional)' on our Module Directory
History is actively constructed and not simply rediscovered in the records of the past. Historical research involves a process of selection and interpretation, and there is an active exchange between theory and empirical data. The Independent Research Project gives you a unique opportunity to explore the making of history. You undertake a piece of detailed, critical and/or possibly original historical research. Meetings and workshops provide practical guidance on formulating a topic, researching, writing and presentation.
View 'Independent Research Project (optional)' on our Module Directory
In this module you’ll focus on witchcraft beliefs and witch-hunts (the legal prosecutions of individuals for the crime of witchcraft) in Europe and New England between the 15th and 18th centuries. You examine beliefs about witches, witchcraft, and the powers of the Devil at both elite and popular levels, set in the wider context of the religious/magical world-view of the period.
View 'Witch-Trials in Early Modern Europe and New England (optional)' on our Module Directory
Film shapes the views of more people regarding the past than any other medium. This is particularly true for early modern England, which has been a popular subject area for filmmakers. You’ll examine and analyse popular films dealing with England from the reigns of Henry VIII to Charles II, which were made from 1933 until the present. This module seeks to study the films as representations of the past, in the same way that historical novels, dramas and paintings are representations of the past.
View 'The Tudors and Stuarts on Film (optional)' on our Module Directory
How has the concept of mental health been developed by psychiatrists? What role do genetic, psychological, social and cultural factors play in causing mental illness? How has mental health treatment developed? Critically examine mental illness, psychiatric thinking and practice, and mental health services, using real-life examples in your debates.
View 'Psychiatry and Mental Illness (optional)' on our Module Directory
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about modules on your year abroad.
- Taught by a weekly lecture followed by a seminar, where groups of about 15 students meet with their tutor to discuss their reading, to work together with primary sources, or to make presentations to the rest of the group
- Lab sessions to improve technical research skills
- One-to-one tuition for your final-year project
- Assessment methods include essays, coursework journals, oral presentations, book and film reviews, source analysis, and the dissertation
- Your first-year marks do not count towards your final degree class
- Complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you
If you already have your results and want to apply for 2016 entry through Clearing, complete our Clearing application form
and we’ll get back in touch with you or give us a ring
to discuss your grades.
IELTS entry requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.