2020 applicants
History

Career prospects

Essex graduation ceremony

To shape our future, we must understand our past

Are you passionate about all things history, but unsure what career you could pursue after you graduate? Are you looking for a degree that will give you the flexibility to apply your skills and knowledge to various industries in a post-pandemic world?

Choosing the right degree for you can be daunting, and can often leave you with lots of conflicting thoughts. Do you study something you're passionate about, and figure out your future along the way? Or, do you choose the degree that can lead you into an obvious career path? Can a History degree give you the best of both worlds? The answer is yes.

At Essex, we understand that this can be a challenge, made much more difficult by COVID-19 and the uncertain climate we currently live in. However, one thing is for certain, studying History at Essex will give you the opportunity to learn more about the subject you love, and develop transferable skills that will prepare you for a career in a variety of industries. We know the future is unpredictable, but we will make sure you're ready for it.

Evidence of how adaptable History degrees are, is showcased in the success stories of our incredible alumni, and staff. Head of Department, Andrew Priest tells us in an article how he navigated his GCSEs and A-Levels with his changing interests, and how he then came to study a degree in History.

 

Read the article
Which jobs will suit me?
  • A degree in history could take you into heritage management, museum curation, teaching and education, social work, private and public sectors and the Civil Service.
  • A History degree can also prepare you for a career in film and media, journalism, law and human rights, finance, governmental organisations and international corporations.
  • Previous graduates have gone on to enjoy careers as a TV producer, a senior marketing executive, and editor at Sky News, and a researcher for a television documentary company.

How will a history degree benefit my future career prospects?

Which employers will value my degree?

Employers in a wide range of industries will value a graduate with a history degree. Science and engineering companies, governments, international organisations, education sectors and even the media industry among many others are in demand of historians, as their knowledge in past events and ability to bring a humanist approach is fundamental in helping influence change in our society both today, tomorrow and in months and years to come.

Whether that's by utilising your knowledge in past pandemics to inform modern science and medicine, your understanding of past social injustices to influence current policy in governments, or your ability to recognise past human rights tragedies to educate charities, international corporations and media companies, those who study a degree in history will continue to be highly valued across all sectors and industries worldwide.

The job roles listed below are just a few examples of the opportunities that a degree in history can lead to. The skills you will develop will enable you to successfully transition into a wide range of potential career paths.

A degree from the Department of History will prepare you for careers in fields such as:
  • local, national and international government.
  • charities and voluntary organisations such as the United Nations and Amnesty International
  • Civil Service, museums and heritage organisations
  • film, media and journalism
  • marketing, communications and public relations
  • financial sectors including banks and insurance
  • teaching, education and academia
  • data analysis or data science
  • law firms and legal roles

 

Explore history courses in Clearing Explore all history courses

Which skills will I develop? Where can they take me?

At Essex, you will be immersed in a broad programme of study, uniquely designed to equip you with a diverse skill set. As a history graduate, you will find your skills, knowledge, and ability to approach situations with an analytical and humanist mind is highly sought after by employers looking to withstand the challenges of our society that are prevalent today, and which lie ahead.

A history degree from Essex will help you to:
  • develop the ability to evaluate evidence, analyse sources and write persuasive arguments. This could be the foundation of a career in law and politics
  • provide a commitment to research and investigation. These are ideal qualities for future journalists
  • to think critically and predict outcomes. These skills are invaluable for roles within the government, and non-governmental organisations
  • showcase a broad cultural knowledge combined with an attention to detail. These skills are a very desirable attribute for careers in publishing or the media
  • absorb, analyse and assess a wide variety of information and viewpoints. These are essential skills for working in international organisations, museums and heritage organisations
  • express your findings in oral and written form. These are invaluable skills for those interested in a career in translation and charities
  • the ability to analyse information and communicate your ideas clearly. These are excellent qualities for those interested in writing, researching, filmmaking and leadership positions
  • the skill to understand foreign cultures and new ideas, and grasp new systems quickly. This could be the start of a career in the public sector or Civil Service
  • strong problem solving, data analysis and quantitative skills. Skills which are essential for a career as an economist, a chartered accountant, or within the financial sector

 

Explore history courses in Clearing Explore all history courses

How will my degree help me to succeed in a challenging jobs market?

 

Whilst science, technology and medicine continue to develop our world at a rapidly fast pace, we will also continue to experience threats such as climate change, war crimes, global pandemics and race, gender and social inequalities. In order for us to react to these issues and be able to shape the future needs of society, we need highly skilled and knowledgeable historians who can help to interpret and analyse patterns and outcomes of our past. As developing threats continue to affect sectors worldwide including health and social care, film and television, education, international corporations and human rights organisations around the globe, today’s students of history will play an integral role in overcoming these challenges and cultivating future change.

During your time at Essex, you will have the opportunity to study a variety of areas, from African-American slavery, to Stalin’s Russia, from witchcraft in Germany to the history of disease, and from revolutions in China to mass immigration and the role of women in Early Modern England. Our degrees are interdisciplinary, so if you are interested in other subjects, you could also choose to combine your degree in history with subjects including criminology, economics, literature, sociology, film studies and human rights.

Whichever history degree you choose, you will develop unique strengths in learning how to grapple with complex moral issues, the ability to think critically and to understand the complexities and intricacies of humanity. These are all skills which are essential for helping to deal with contemporary global issues at local, national, and international levels, and will, therefore, be highly impressive to potential employers.

 

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What if i'm not sure about my career yet? Or if I change my mind?

We don't expect you to have your future planned out before you arrive at Essex, and it's also ok to change your mind, multiple times! In fact, this is completely normal, especially as you learn about new topics.

When you join us, you will be immersed in a culture and community of support and guidance from inside the department, and across the University too. Our lecturers and expert academics will be there to help you throughout your studies to explore your ideas and find the path that aligns your interests, whilst offering advice wherever you need it.

We would really encourage you to get involved with every opportunity that's available to you throughout your studies, including career events, networking sessions, and exploring opportunities in other departments too. For example, attending workshops, talks, seminars and conferences where you can hear from professionals across different industries. You can visit our events calendar for a programme of academic events which are added throughout the year.

It's always a great idea to join our fantastic clubs and societies, as these opportunities are an excellent way for you to learn from other people, network, and help you to carve out ideas of where you would like to take your future.

Keep exploring our careers page to learn more about how you will be supported throughout your degree when it comes to preparing for a career and life after Essex. You can also chat with our students and staff to get the inside scoop.

 

Chat to our students and staff
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How will the Department support my career development?

History Works: Career portfolio

At Essex, it's important to us that we support your career aspirations, and help turn them into a reality. Running alongside your studies over the course of your degree, “History Works: Career Portfolio” gives you the opportunity to assess the key skills of a historian and see how these skills can transfer to different professions.

In your first year, you will set out your reasons for choosing history in a letter to your future self. You will receive guidance on all kinds of key skills, including application writing, networking, applying for funding and creating your own employment opportunities. You will also carry out research into the history of the job market and examine how it has changed over time, with a view to understanding how your skills as a historian are needed in today's world.

Former graduates and other experts are invited to give presentations on the careers they built on the back of their history degrees, so this is an excellent opportunity for you to ask questions, and learn about the pathways you could consider after you graduate.

Placements and Study Abroad

Placements

History students have the opportunity to carry out exciting placements. In addition, we also work with the University's Student Development Team to help you find out about other work experience, internships and voluntary opportunities. Carrying out a placement or a voluntary position helps you to gain experience working in a professional environment, it gives you the opportunity to explore sectors you may be interested in pursuing a career in and provides you with key contacts within the industry giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market.

Take a look at research student Lewis Smith for example, who has recently become the 50th PhD student to join the Government’s Open Innovation Team on an exciting three-month placement, where he will be supporting policy projects and business development strategies in the Department for Education.

Some of our students have also completed work placements in roles and with companies such as:

 

Learn more about placements

Year abroad

We have partner institutions all over the world who are excited to welcome you, so if you're keen to study abroad for a year, have the itch to travel, and want to make life-long memories, this is the perfect opportunity for you.

 

Learn more about studying abroad

 

Access to opportunities from our Careers Services

Our Careers Services are on hand to help you from the moment you join us at Essex and is a service which you will have access to throughout your entire career even after you graduate. They're extremely supportive and understanding, and appreciate that everyone they meet are at different stages when it comes to thinking about their future.

The Careers Services provides a range of opportunities, such as:

  • providing one-to-one careers advice
  • support finding placements and internships
  • hosting workshops on employability skills
  • employability and careers fairs
  • offering budding entrepreneurs support on how to start your own business
  • support in writing your CV
  • The Big Essex Award which provides a whole range of marketing, fundraising, networking and project management skills. The award identifies the skills you’ve developed over the course of your studies and records your achievements on your degree transcript
  • support transitioning from one career to another
  • hunting for the perfect job

 

Explore opportunities from the Careers Services

With opportunities and discounts for further study

History breeds a passion for research. It's addictive, it's inspiring, and it's exciting. It's common for those with a connection to history and an interest in the humanities to choose to specialise more deeply in a period of interest. Whether you're hoping to dive straight into further study following your undergraduate degree or return to education, having an advanced skill set when it comes to knowledge of the past, will continue to become increasingly attractive to employers across the globe who are looking to overcome the many challenges our society faces in a post-pandemic era.

Graduates of history are able to choose from a variety of Masters level courses. If you don't have an undergraduate degree in history, don't worry - students with a degree in unrelated disciplines will also be considered for further study with us, subject to meeting entry requirements.

 

View our Masters level courses Explore more about masters level study

Funding your further study

There are often scholarship and funding opportunities available for students of the Department. For more information, please visit our scholarships and funding page. You can also browse the University's scholarship finder for other funding opportunities which may be available.

Alumni loyalty discount

If you are a graduate of the University of Essex, studied abroad here or have a spouse or partner studying here as a full-time international student paying overseas fees, we'll give you a loyalty discount of up to 33% on the tuition fee for your first year of postgraduate study at Essex.

 

Learn more about the loyalty discount

 

If you're looking for more information about postgraduate study at Essex, including how to apply, fees and funding, accommodation and our guidance on COVID-19, you can find lots of helpful advice on our dedicated webpage.

 

Order our 2020 postgraduate prospectus

A fantastic on-going relationship after you graduate

Forever a part of our Essex community

In the Department of History, we're proud to continue our lifelong relationship with our graduates. The University also hosts an incredibly vibrant alumni network. This community is open to all graduates of Essex and will provide you with exclusive membership for a lifetime, giving you access to discounts, networking events and much more. You can hear inspiring stories from other members of our global alumni community, use our Friend Finder Service to reconnect with your old friends. Here at Essex, we value the advice and knowledge that our alumni have soaked up along their journey's, so we are eager for our alumni to come and volunteer at Essex, and help make a difference to the next generation of graduates.

 

Learn more about our alumni network 
Lewis Smith, smiling in front of a woodland backdrop, wearing a suit and tie with his Essex graduation robes just visible
History student Lewis Smith secures 50th Government PhD placement

Based in the Department for Education, his three-month placement will involve supporting policy projects and business development strategies in order to generate analysis and ideas for policymakers. Lewis hopes the placement will help him put his research skills to good use and develop an understanding of policy that will give his work greater impact. 

Read the article

 

Our inspiring alumni

Our alumni are showing the world that success can be achieved when you study a degree in history, and a subject that you love. From traditional history careers, to jobs in the film, television, media and the legal profession (amongst many other industries), we're extremely proud and inspired by the mark our history graduates are making in the world.

Our graduates have gone onto enjoy both traditional history related careers including being an archivist; heritage manager; conservation officer; museum curator; and teacher, whilst other graduates have applied their skills and have since become an editor at Sky News; a senior marketing executive at a Premier League football club; and a researcher for a television documentary company. Yes, you read that right!

Other industries our graduates have taken by storm include film and television; media; journalism; the civil service; advertising; marketing; public relations; human resources; the legal profession; and finance and accountancy, among many others.

 

Graduate stories

Amy Foster, Compliance Manager, BA History

Why did you decide to study your course at Essex?

The BA History course at Essex has a great reputation and a really interesting mix of modules that I knew I would enjoy getting stuck into. I liked that I could choose the classes to best suit my research interests, and as soon as I met a few of the lecturers at an Open Day, I knew it was the course for me!

I also really liked the Essex campus. As everything was all in once place - accommodation, lecture halls, computer labs, the library, the excellent Student Union, the shop, the bars and clubs - there was a real community feel to it. The location of the Campus was also great - peaceful and quiet when you needed it, whilst being just a short bus ride from the town centre.

What did you enjoy most about your studies? Which modules or areas of research did you particularly enjoy?

I loved having the freedom to choose what modules I was most interested in, to study and research independently. Having the time and facilities to do my own reading and form my own opinions, and then being able to take them to seminars for further discussion, allowed me to expand my knowledge and discover the areas of history I really enjoyed. I completed my dissertation on the relationship between John F Kennedy and Britain, and how this came into play during the Berlin Wall Crisis.

In addition, having a Department made up of staff with varied areas of research and expertise, allowed me to explore topics that I'd never studied before, such as Imperial Russia, class and gender in film, South African history and the Enlightenment.

What employability/further study skills did studying at Essex give you?

It may be thought that a history degree doesn't provide sufficient employability skills, but I think the opposite is true. As well as showing that you’re dedicated and driven enough to study a subject for three years just because you enjoy it, it also gives you skills in independent research, planning and organisation, communicating with peers, debating ideas and looking at events or facts from different points of view, all of which future employers look for.

What have you done since graduating from Essex?

I now work as a Compliance Manager at the Royal Bank of Canada, looking after the reporting and governance processes for Regulatory Compliance UK, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

How did your time studying at the University of Essex help your career?

Although investment banking regulatory compliance may seem a world away from studying history, a lot of the skills and methods of working required are the same! They both require sharp attention to detail, the ability to assimilate large amounts of information and draw conclusions appropriately, and the ability to be proactive, delivery focused and work to hard deadlines.

The University of Essex provided me with a great environment to complete my degree, with unwavering support from teaching staff, mentors and the Students' Union. It also gave me the opportunity to build and develop employability skills, and exposed me to graduate careers and employers that I'd never considered before. Ultimately Essex helped me find the career path that's right for me.

 

Explore history courses

Jordan Milne, TV Producer, BA History

Why did you decide to study your course at Essex?

I completed my first year at a different university and then moved straight into the second year at Essex. I actually wanted to be an Interior Designer! But I did work experience and I just couldn't face matching curtains to carpets for the rest of my life. I decided to study history. I knew I wanted to tell people’s stories – and I was fascinated by the criminal justice system which is why I decided to study the history of crime at Essex.

What did you enjoy most about your studies? Which modules or areas of research did you particularly enjoy?

My dissertation was on the cultural life of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I had the chance to examine the original play. There were pencil notes in the margin, so being the history nerd that I am, that was something else

What employability/further study skills did studying at Essex give you?

Organisation and time management! Coping with the amount of assignments you have, you have to learn time management, you have to be able to deal with deadlines. Now in my job, I can have deadlines of up to 24 hours, or of up to 10 minutes and I can deal with that because I learned how to at Uni.

Can you tell us about your current job?

I’m the Home Affairs and Crime Specialist Producer for Sky News which means I produce both on the day and longer term stories now focusing predominantly on the criminal justice system. From my point of view, it’s an absolute dream job as I was fascinated by the criminal justice system, now and before.

With your career, how did you get your start?

I did a Masters in Investigative Journalism and started working at a newspaper. I actually didn't want to work in TV, but I fell into it and it's been a few years now! I started working as a news editor and that work was really exciting. I’d speak to reporters, find things out and then had to react to what I’d learnt straight away!

Could you describe a typical day?

I'm based in the Sky News Studios in Middlesex. The planning office is just a regular office with TV screens everywhere and the News Desk is an open plan, fairly chaotic office! Now that my job has changed I have a greater focus on one patch - Home Affairs and Crime - which covers everything from court cases and police stories to terrorist attacks and changes in the judiciary. And I react to breaking news in this area. I work with the Home Affairs correspondent Mark White and the Crime correspondent Martin Brunt.

What do you enjoy about your work?

We recently interviewed one prisoner about the availability of drugs and how that impacts life in jail. Visiting prison and getting to see the frontline, as it were, was mind blowing. I’m also out and about on the road more now. So no longer chained to the planning desk!

How do you look back on your time at Essex?

Essex shaped who I am entirely! I still live with someone I met on my history course now – we’re history nerds together!

 

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Mark Walker, Academic Advisor, BA History

Why did you decide to study history at Essex?

History has always been the subject I am most passionate about. While it seems a cliché the study of the past does help us prevent making the mistakes we made before, but it also builds a greater understanding about why societies function the way they do and how we as human beings interact with each other.

I loved the ability to dive into the primary material and be allowed to explore at my pace to find new or overlooked areas of knowledge. When I decided to apply for my PhD I wanted to go somewhere I knew would be welcoming and supportive, with a really knowledgeable staff.

What have you done since graduating from Essex?

After graduating I moved to the United States and taught at Drexel University in Philadelphia for a short period. At Essex I had been a teaching assistant on US history survey courses and I taught my own version at Drexel. After that I switched careers away from academia and now work at Temple University in Philadelphia in the College of Liberal Arts as an Academic Advisor. I work daily with undergraduate students helping them navigate their college careers, professional development options and academic progress to make sure they maximise their experience at university.

As a historian who became an advisor, I also act as a liaison between advising and the Department of History. In a world where liberal arts subjects like history are under attack from budget cuts, academic advisors are core advocates to students about the importance of these degrees to building transferable skills.

What advice would you give students who are thinking about studying your subject?

Really think about studying or researching something that makes you passionate. If you don't love what you are studying then you will not make it through; the best way to make it through in one piece is to make sure you are 100% interested and motivated by your chosen subject every day.

 

Explore history courses
Amanda Horne, wearing a black t-shirt and glasses, against a teal-coloured wall
Amanda Horne - BA History

Since graduating from Essex, Amanda overcame personal trauma and disability to succeed, and wrote historical fiction as her dissertation

Read her story