About the course
The modern period marked an age of discovery and globalisation; a time of rapid change, brutal wars, and a belief in the possibility of societal and scientific progress. Our BA Modern History allows you to specialise in this exciting period, studying the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world from the 18th century to the present day.
You investigate the intersection of the ideas, cultures and economics of different people over the last 200 years of western history. This introduces you to the relationship between today’s ‘modern’ world, which assumes the significance of political liberty, global interdependence and sexuality, and events and ideas which originated in the 18th and 19th centuries.
You also choose from a broad range of topics including:
- The spread of communist-inspired revolutions in China, Russia, and Latin America
- The origins and consequences of the Cold War
- Slavery and its demise in the Atlantic world
- Imperialism in India and Africa
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 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.
At Essex we’re about social conscience, wondering why, and understanding the bigger picture. We teach you to find your own critical voice, and to view history through the eyes of ordinary people, giving them the voice they often lacked at the time.
Your education extends beyond our University campus. We support you extending your education by offering you an additional year at no extra cost (2017 entry). The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend your third year studying abroad, 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 staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. 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.
- 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 the UK Data Archive, a national service provider digital resources for historians, which is particularly strong in nineteenth and twentieth-century economic and social history
- Attend an exciting programme of events
- 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
In addition to the opportunity to learn about the past and come to a better understanding of the present, a course in history also provides you with important skills that will be of value after leaving university. You learn to absorb, analyse and assess a wide variety of information and viewpoints, to express your arguments in oral and written form, and to think and work both independently and in co-operation with others.
You therefore graduate prepared for a wide range of careers. Our graduates have gone on to have careers in a wide variety of fields including:
- museum and archive services
- the Civil Service
- local government
- law enforcement
- charity administration
Others have proceeded to work in banking, industrial and retail management, media research, electronic publishing, marketing, IT, health service administration, counselling and social work, while others still have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MA or PhD degrees.
Some of our recent graduates have found employment as:
- a warden for the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle
- a planning support officer for a local council
- a senior underwriting assistant at CNA Insurance Company Limited
- a researcher at the House of Commons
- a graduate trainee for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
- a library assistant for the University of Cambridge
We also work with the University’s 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.
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' 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
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
In the late 19th century, Great Britain was the world's leading power and the 'workshop of the world'. By the time of the Second World War, the United States was dominant in both political and economic terms. After a discussion of the forging of the idea of this 'special relationship' during the Second World War, you will examine the nature and the degree of co-operation and tension between the two countries up to the modern day.
Historians have long debated whether there was a 'consensus' between the main political parties after the Second World War. This module examines the idea of the 'consensus' and its impact on the British people, exploring the inter-relations between the state, citizens and the broader culture of post-war Britain. You’ll learn about the nature of culture and society in a country experiencing enormous change.
View 'Consensus Britain? The State and the People, 1945-79 (optional)' on our Module Directory
You explore the relationship between cinema and society in Britain from the interwar depression, through the Second World War and the onset of affluence and mass-consumerism in the 1950s and 60s, to the rise of Thatcherism and the collapse of the 'post-war settlement'. You examine classes and cultures in relation to the lived history of the period, in order to track what they both reveal and conceal about the historical processes which transformed Britain during the 20th century.
Discover how South Africa took the 'apartheid turn' and how the country had long been on a road of increasing racial discrimination. You will study the historical experience of South Africa from the late-19th to the mid-20th century. Gain a thorough understanding of the historical forces and struggles which gave rise to the segregationist state. This module aims to overturn common assumptions about South Africa.
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
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
This module explores the cultural experience of urban life in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. From the late-19th century Germany's cities (and above all Berlin) became synonymous with social and political change, cultural and sexual experiments, becoming also arenas for technological innovation in work and domestic life. Topics covered range from problems of poor housing conditions to the portrayal of city life in arts, literature and films.
In this module you’ll focus on the social history of the Third Reich. You’ll study the origins and the rise of Nazism, the seizure of power in 1933-34, and the Nazi state, but special attention will be given to German society under Nazi rule. The role and position of women, the family, youth, workers, soldiers, intellectuals, party members, 'non-Aryans', along with the regime's policy towards the arts and music, will all be examined.
View 'The Third Reich (Special Subject) (optional)' on our Module Directory
The Russian Revolution was one of the most important events in the 20th Century. It brought an end to Tsarist rule and gave birth to the first socialist state. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the Russian Revolution as a larger process that started long before 1917 and did not end in 1917 or even in 1921. You’ll receive an overview of different interpretations, and of former and current scholarly debates.
View 'The Russian Revolution 1905-1932 (Special Subject) (optional)' on our Module Directory
Understand the events in Soviet history which led to the collapse of Socialism and analyse how the Soviet state moulded the mentality of its people, looking closely at the effects this had on the stability of the USSR. You will understand the reasons that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the processes that are shaping authoritarian states, past and present. Examine its role in the world and its impact on people's self-identification.
View 'From Stalin to Putin (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
Lyndon B. Johnson's term as president began and ended in controversy. Thrust into office immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he attempted to advance a liberal agenda, as well as promoting his own political ambitions. He left office just over six years later a broken man. While he had achieved some considerable success to improve the lot of many ordinary Americans, his dreams foundered over his policies in Vietnam.
Gain an in-depth understanding of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War and the profound impact this conflict had on American politics and political culture. You’ll examine the history of the war and will focus on the different ways in which the war has been understood. The module encompasses not just international and military, but also cultural, history. Combining these approaches will help you understand the enormous effect that the war has had on American public life.
View 'The United States and the Vietnam War (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
- 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
UK entry requirements
IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.
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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
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.
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.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.
Applicant Days and interviews
Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.
Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.
If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you plan a visit to the University.
Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing email@example.com and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.