About the course
Our four-year BA History with Modern Languages allows you to combine the study of a wide range of history options with one or two modern languages (out of French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese). Your history components seek to answer questions such as:
- How have historical events shaped the contemporary world, and what is the relationship between past and present?
- How have factors such as class, gender and race influenced historical change since 1500?
- What comparisons can be made between historical developments in different parts of the world?
Discover both the early modern and modern periods of history and explore challenging questions concerning the impact of political, social and cultural change on individuals, social groups, and regions.
Your modern languages components have a triple focus on developing language proficiency, cultural awareness and professional skills (not only translation skills, but also web and publishing skills, and film production and video editing skills such as subtitling and voiceover). Our focus on skills helps you acquire a wide range of employability skills which enhance your career prospects.
Your first, second and final years are spent at Essex, with your time split between history and your chosen modern language(s). Your third year is spent abroad experiencing, engaging with and integrating into another culture, either by a period of study at a partner institution offering the opportunity to operate in a different academic, linguistic and cultural environment, or by working as a language assistant and thereby acquiring valuable vocational experience of working abroad.
Our Department of History has developed a strong research and teaching profile, with most of our research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). We provide you with opportunities to explore local history, and have strong links with the Essex Record Office, one of the best county record offices in the UK. You can also explore more international topics; our corridors are truly cosmopolitan, with an international research team and a high proportion of international students.
Your education extends beyond our University campus. On this course you spend the third of your four years abroad, experiencing, engaging with, and integrating into another culture.
You can study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. These include universities in:
- France (Lyon 3, Montpellier and Nice)
- Germany (Berlin FUB, Trier and Konstanz)
- Italy (Bologna, Trento and Urbino)
- Portugal (Coimbra)
- Brazil (Florianopolis and Salvador)
- Spain (Murcia, Madrid, Cadiz and Granada)
- Chile (Santiago)
- Colombia (Bogota)
- Mexico (Mérida and Monterrey)
You continue to study modules relevant to your course, learning your chosen languages within a country that speaks them, and you pay no tuition fees for your time overseas.
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.
Our expert staff
Our history staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. Our flexible course is combined with a supportive structure which helps you to pursue the modules best-suited to your interests. We 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 modern languages staff are internationally renowned. Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. All our language teachers are native or bilingual speakers, we maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.
In addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of professional translation, interpreting and subtitling, film and art, business, and culture.
- 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
- 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
- Access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Sanako and Melissi Digital Classroom software, and fitted with computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens
- A new 20-position Interpreting Lab
- Meet other linguists and practice your language skills at our Language Cafés
As a history graduate you’ll acquire skills which employers in all fields value. You will be able to analyse information and communicate your ideas clearly. You will have the ability to understand foreign cultures and new ideas and grasp new systems quickly. In a job market which is becoming increasingly global, having studied a foreign language places you in a very advantageous position regardless of which career path you follow.
Many 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.
Some of our recent graduates have found employment as:
- A librarian
- An editorial assistant
- A careers officer
- A business development manager
- A digital services consultant
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.
The language module that you will study will depend upon your level when you arrive in the department. We are happy to accept students with no previous knowledge of the language (except for French where an A level is required if you wish to major in this language). Please refer to the progression pathway table to find out which modules are suitable for your linguistic profile.
In your first, second and fourth year you can choose optional modules from other subject areas if you wish.
Our courses allow you to study up to two, three or four modern languages. The below example structure shows a student studying French and Spanish.
Please note that 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 modules.
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
Gain a deep insight into the origins of today’s world. This module presents a chronological overview of the key events in western history from the last 200 years. Look at how ideas, cultures, and economies of different peoples intersected, and changed, through the conflicts brought on by capitalism, imperialism, war, and revolution. You develop a solid foundation to study modern history.
View 'The Making of the Modern World 1776-1989 (optional)' 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
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
Brazil is a land of contrasts. It’s a country with extreme social inequality as well as having an amazing capacity to integrate different cultures. Today it is asserting itself as a key player in international politics. You’ll receive an introduction to the political and social history of the Brazilian Republic from the overthrow of the Empire (1889) to the democratic transition following the military dictatorship (1964-85). The main focus of this module will be on the social movements in this period.
View 'The Making of Modern Brazil (optional)' on our Module Directory
Explore the historical grounding of human rights by examining its origins from the 15th to the 20th century. You’ll study the practice and theory of torture, the definition of man and beast, slavery and the rights of the free man, the persecution and judicial treatment of deviance and witchcraft, the interference of Church and State in the freedom of expression, the international attempts at the definition and enforcement of rights, and much more.
View 'Human Rights in Historical Perspective (optional)' on our Module Directory
Between 1700 and 1900 England underwent extraordinary economic and social transformation, which has long been associated with 'the rise of the novel'. You’ll discover debates about the historical use of the novel by investigating a variety of sources that test our understanding of literary production, circulation and reception, and the nature of social representation. You’ll be introduced to debates about 'industrial revolution', 'a consumer society', 'the long eighteenth-century', 'luxury', 'the standard of living' and a broad consideration of the 'condition of England'.
View 'Literature and the Condition of England (optional)' on our Module Directory
Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in Spanish? Develop your language abilities, expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening and oral skills. Expand your understanding of Spanish and Latin American culture and history through the use of texts, films and conversations with native speakers.
View 'Advanced Spanish (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' on our Module Directory
Want near-native level competence in Spanish? Wish to deal quickly and precisely with written or spoken documents? Refine your knowledge of Spanish grammar and vocabulary by studying different texts. Practice your writing with essays and reports, and learn to express yourself clearly in complex situations.
View 'Mastery Level Spanish (optional)' on our Module Directory
The transatlantic slave trade ranks among history's most destructive events. But it was also one of history's first truly global phenomena, the largest forced migration ever seen. You’ll examine the transatlantic slave trade from its beginnings in 15th-century Iberia to its cessation in the mid-19th century. Our scope will be global, which means we’ll give equal attention to the various regions (European, African, American, and even Asian) that shaped the trade.
View 'The Transatlantic Slave Trade (Special Subject) (optional)' on our Module Directory
The majority of the 12 million enslaved Africans deported to the Americas during the 16th to the 19th centuries ended up working on plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. Sugar, cacao, indigo, tobacco, cotton and coffee were the main commodities produced for the rapidly expanding European markets. Slavery in the Americas contributed to the making of the modern world. You’ll examine the different plantation societies in Brazil, British Jamaica, the French Caribbean, and the Spanish colonies (Venezuela and Cuba).
View 'Slavery and Plantation Societies in Latin America (optional)' on our Module Directory
Gain a detained insight into the history of sexuality in the United States from the colonial period to the present, with an emphasis on women. You will understand how the social construction of sexuality changed throughout time. Although women's historical experiences are positioned as central to this module, you also investigate concepts of masculinity and manhood. In addition to gender, race, class, free/un-free status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and the body, are crucial sites of analysis.
View 'Women, Gender and Sexuality in US History (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.
- 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
- Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
- Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature
- 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
- Languages assessed through role-plays and translations
- Your first-year marks do not count towards your final degree class
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.