About the course
You obtain a thorough grounding in the fields of modern history and politics, and will consider how the two disciplines can be integrated. You take an Introduction to Politics module alongside your history modules in your first year, and continue to combine modern history and politics modules in your second and third years. There is a range of relevant options to choose from in both departments and you choose to write your final-year dissertation in either politics or history.
In your history modules you investigate the intersection of the ideas, cultures and economics of different people over the last 200 years of western history. You’re introduced 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.
Always seeking political cause and effect, our course casts light on aspects of life you might never ordinarily connect to politics and government. You investigate the scope of political science as a field of inquiry, and the methods used by political scientists, in order to explore questions concerning both what does occur in politics, and what should occur in politics.
You study topics including:
- Democratic systems
- Political power
- Concepts in political science: state, laws, wars and political parties
- The spread of communist-inspired revolutions in China, Russia, and Latin America
- The origins and consequences of the Cold War
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.
Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.
Your education extends beyond our University campus. We support you extending your education by offering you an additional year at no extra cost. 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. 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.
Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.
Our academic staff work on topics ranging from international conflict and violence to British elections, and from the obligations of the younger generation to why authoritarian leaders welcome natural disasters.
- 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
- 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
- Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
- We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis
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. All of these skills are highly transferable to the world of work.
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 from BA Modern History and Politics have found employment as:
- A policy and strategy assistant for Victim Support
- An insurance advisor for Swinton Insurance
- An economic analyst
- A hospital coordinator
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.
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
What is “Politics”? How have people conceived of political analysis, the state, laws, wars and political parties, across cultures and over time? Gain an understanding of essential concepts in the study of politics and explore the economic, social and intellectual trends that have made democracy possible.
View 'Introduction to Politics' on our Module Directory
An often misused concept, “democracy” takes radically different forms in different democratic countries. You gain a real understanding of what is meant by “democracy” and investigate under what conditions and in what countries liberal democracy is most likely to occur.
View 'Democracy: Forms and Futures' 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
What created a European identity? Was it religion, politics, war, art? And how do Europeans interact with the world? How is Europe viewed from afar? By studying themes like the Reformation, and focusing on individual writers and artists, test the idea and myth of Europe from many perspectives.
View 'Europe: Myth and Idea (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
How should a society distribute resources and opportunities between individuals and groups? The principles of social justice we hold affect how we answer this question. You study different philosophical approaches to these principles and explore their implications for the current issue of climate justice.
View 'Principles of Social Justice' on our Module Directory
Is torture ever morally justified? Should pornography be banned? Should prostitution be legalised? Take part in the intellectual search for the moral principles that should govern how we answer these questions and others in governing public policy.
View 'Ethics and Public Policy' 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.
View ''The Special Relationship'? Anglo-American Relations 1850-2005 (optional)' on our Module Directory
The field of security studies has become increasingly important over the last decade. While old conflicts are reigniting and new ones are emerging, scholars and decision-makers debate about changes to the concepts of security, the redundancy of military force, and the centrality of the state in order to face these ever-important issues.
View 'International Security Studies (optional)' on our Module Directory
Britain underwent profound transformations between 1830 and 1950. It became the first indisputably modern, industrial capitalist society in the world. Not only was the environment turned upside down, but the lives and identities of the British people were altered fundamentally. You’ll explore this process in a thematic as well as a chronological manner, and study labour, class, gender, the state, democracy, imperialism, culture, and poverty.
View 'The Common People: British Social History 1830-1950 (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
- Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
- Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
- 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
- If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience
- 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.