History

Career prospects

Graduates hugging

Your future starts here

Studying a degree within the Department of History, provides you with the skills, expertise and confidence you need to succeed in life after graduation.

What can I do with a History degree?

The beauty of a degree in history is that it can prepare you for any number of careers. You get to develop specialist knowledge of a subject you actually enjoy, without narrowing your job options after graduation. 

Museums, heritage centres and galleries offer a range of employment opportunities. You can work directly with visitors as front of house staff, responsible for ticketing and tour guides, but with your background as a history graduate, you may find you can apply directly for curatorial roles.

  • Exhibitions Officers assist in delivering and maintaining exhibitions, from sourcing archive materials to organising tours.
  • If you’re interested in promoting museums and galleries as sites of learning, you might be suited to a position within an Education or Outreach team.
  • Most museums and galleries will have their own marketing and public relations teams, and with a combination of expert knowledge and highly developed communication skills a history graduate is an excellent fit.

If you’re interested in working directly with historic materials and preserving them for future use, you may be drawn to working as a librarian or archivist. These roles often require a postgraduate qualification, and having demonstrated your interest in the past through your history degree, you’ll be well on track to apply for assistant roles when you take those first steps along your career path.

Do bear in mind, the skills you develop as a student of history are essential for a wide variety of careers that are not directly linked to the study of history.

  • Your ability to evaluate evidence, analyse sources and write persuasive arguments could be the foundation of a career in law, whether as a lawyer or in an administrative role.
  • Your commitment to research and investigation are ideal qualities for a journalist.
  • If your love of history is based on an interest in people and their backgrounds you may be suited to working in human resources or social work.
  • Your capacity for critical thinking and ability to predict outcomes are invaluable for roles within government or the civil service.
  • A broad cultural knowledge combined with an attention to detail is a very desirable attribute for those who wish to work in publishing or the media.

History breeds a passion for research. It is not uncommon for BA History graduates to go into further study and specialise more deeply in a period of interest. Studying for an MA, developing your research skills and working more closely with primary sources may be your route into academic life as a professional historian. If the communication of ideas and knowledge drives you, an educational role may be your ideal career path, whether that’s based at a school, college or other centre of learning.

How will you support my career development?

At Essex we want to 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 today. Former graduates and other experts are invited to give presentations on the careers they built on the back of their history degrees.

You can also choose to include a Placement Year within your degree. We’ll help you to find a relevant opportunity and ensure that you make the most of a great chance to improve your career prospects. Recently students have undertaken placements at:

  • The Brick Lane Gallery in London
  • Local primary and secondary schools
  • The archives at the Essex Records Office
  • The Essex County Hospital (undertaking archival work)
  • As a Research Assistant for a local heritage project working with an Essex academic

What are my opportunities?

Our Employability and Careers Centre is on hand to help you find placements and internships – and offers a lot more besides. It provides an on-campus job shop, one-to-one careers advice, hosts workshops on employability skills, and offers support if you want to start your own business.  You can also sign up for the Big Essex Award, which provides a whole range of marketing, fundraising, networking, 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.

The Employability and Careers Centre also runs Careers’ Fairs throughout the year and there are further opportunities to develop your skills with a number of Student’s Union societies, such as broadcasting with Rebel Media, Theatre Arts, Film, Writing and Public Speaking.

At Essex we run a unique internal internship scheme. Frontrunners offers our students the opportunity to work within a University department or team. As well as giving you the chance to earn alongside your studies, a Frontrunner internship will develop your professional skills and prepare you for the world of work. 

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme is ideal for students who want to explore life in academia. It offers applicants the chance to assist our academics on a current research project. Once again, as well as developing your research skills these research placements are fully paid.

The Essex Students’ Union also offers you the opportunity to grow your CV as a volunteer with a wide variety of organisations. Our students have volunteered at Colchester Zoo, local healthcare settings and schools, festivals and foodbanks.


Our graduates

The journeys they've taken, the opportunities they've experienced, the contacts they've made, and the variety of career paths that have been embarked upon, our graduates have shared their stories with us, and now we get to share them with you.

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Career support for life

You don't need to have your future all planned out. Our Careers Services offer friendly, professional support and one-to-one advice to students and graduates.

Find out more