Course overview

Everything has a story. And this course is perfect if you love finding new interpretations. Whether this is through literature, or looking to the past to discover the secrets of the people, places and events of our ancestors, it is these stories which give us our sense of place in the world.

This course combines studying the history of Europe and beyond with English language, literature and drama from Old English to the present. You will study a choice of themes, ranging from American Civil Rights, to the Crusades, to Colonial India. You can also tailor your degree to what you enjoy most, choosing from a huge range of optional modules covering historical figures, events and themes from the 6th century CE to the present day.

As a joint honours student, you will benefit from skills development and assessment methods from both subjects. Each subject is taught separately, but you can choose a uniting theme for your final year dissertation.

Your departments

See the School of English and Department of History websites to find out more about what it's like to study with us.

Why choose this course?

Student satisfaction

100% agreed that ‘the course is intellectually stimulating’, and 91% agree that ‘staff have made the subject interesting’

(2022 National Student Survey results)

Complimentary skills

Learn how to research and debate history, alongside writing and thinking critically about English texts

Get creative

Put your skills into practice and get involved with Impact Magazine, the Creative Writing Society, or the Words on Words blog

Deepen your knowledge

Study topics from the Middle ages, early modern and modern history, or the contemporary world since 1945

For literature lovers

Unleash your creativity in a UNESCO City of Literature, with opportunities both on campus and in the city

Freedom to specialise

Complete a dissertation in either English or history

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level AAA

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

Required subjects

A in English literature or language (or combined), and history at A level. Plus GCSE at level 4 (grade C) or above in English

A-level subjects not accepted: General studies, critical thinking and citizenship 

IB score 36; 6 in English and History at Higher Level

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

When you begin studying at university, you will probably find that you cover material much more quickly than you did while studying for your A-levels. The key to success is preparing well for classes and then taking the ideas you encounter further in your own time.

Lectures – provide an overview of what you are studying, using a variety of audio and visual materials to support your learning.

Seminars and workshops – give you the chance to explore and interact with the material presented in lectures in a friendly and informal environment. You will be taught in a smaller group of students, with discussion focusing on a text or topic you've previously prepared.

Tutorials – individual and small-group tutorials let you explore your work with your module tutor, perhaps discussing plans for an essay or presentation, or following up on an area of a module which has interested you.

eLearning – our virtual-learning system, Moodle, offers 24-hour access to teaching materials and resources.

Peer mentoring

All new undergraduate students can opt into our peer mentoring scheme. Your peer mentor will help you settle into life at Nottingham, provide advice on the transition to university-level study and help you access support if needed.

Find out more about peer mentoring

"Going to university is a daunting prospect. Lots of people will be moving away from home and living independently for the first time. It is so important to have people you can speak with about your concerns and queries, and that is why the peer mentor scheme is so brilliant. I used the scheme in my first year and learnt some valuable information into the academic and social side of university life."

- Emily Hall, BA English

Teaching quality

90% of our class of 2020 graduated with a 1st or 2:1 degree classification. Source: UoN student outcomes data, Annual Monitoring (QDS) Analyses 2020.

Six academic staff from the School of English have been awarded Lord Dearing Awards for ‘High levels of commitment to teaching and learning’ over the past seven years (2016-2022), and two academic staff from the Department of History received Dearing Awards over the past three years (2020-2022).

Teaching methods

  • Field trips
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Our courses are modular, with mainly full-year modules in the first year and mainly semester-long modules in the second and final years. Assessment for most modules takes place at two points, around the middle and end of the module.

Assessment methods – this is based on a combination of coursework, including essays, close-reading exercises, research projects and dissertation, oral and performance presentations, and formal examinations. The precise assessments vary from one module to another and across the years of your degree.

Project-based dissertation – on this course you can choose to do a project-based dissertation, for a more hands-on approach to your research.

More about the project-based dissertation

Feedback – the opportunity to discuss ideas and coursework with your tutor is an integral part of your studies at Nottingham. Whether by giving feedback on an essay plan or discussing the results of an assessment, we help you work to the best of your ability. There are appointed days in each semester to get feedback from tutors, as well as other opportunities to discuss pieces of work.

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • In-class test
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

You’ll have at least the following hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and workshops, tutorials and supervisions.

  • Year one: minimum of 12 hours
  • Year two: minimum of 10 hours
  • Final year: minimum of 8 hours

Your tutors will also be available outside these times to discuss issues and develop your understanding. 

We reduce your contact hours as you work your way through the course. As you progress, we expect you to assume greater responsibility for your studies and work more independently.

Your tutors will all be qualified academics. You will have a personal tutor from the School of English and a joint honours adviser from the Department of History.

Outside of your contact hours, the rest of the time is yours to carry out independent work. This may mean time spent in the library, doing preparation work for seminars, reading books and journal articles from the reading list and researching your assignments.

As a guide, 20 credits (a typical module) is approximately 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Study abroad

  • Apply to spend a semester abroad as part of your degree
  • Explore the world, experience different cultures and gain valuable life skills by studying abroad
  • Language support is available through our Language Centre where required
  • Boost your CV for prospective employers

See our study abroad pages for full information


In your departments

You have access to a range of bespoke opportunities through the School of English. We work closely with you to find placements to accommodate your interests.

"I went into my placement thinking I’d want to work in museum learning, but I left knowing that exhibition design and visitor interaction is what I truly enjoy."

- Tereza Chanaki, English and History BA, completed a placement with the Museum of Brands

Read our School of English work placement student profiles

Find out about Department of History opportunities

Many of our students also choose to take part in volunteering schemes, including:

Internships, placements and other work experience

Our reputation means we can work with top employers to offer high quality opportunities to gain experience and build employment skills. Check out our Careers and Employability Service for what’s on offer.

This course is also eligible for an optional placement year.

Nottingham Advantage Award

Boost your employability with a range of employer-led projects and career development opportunities. See the Nottingham Advantage Award website for what’s available.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.

Why study more than one subject?

Watch our animation about studying a joint honours degree with us.


Our first-year core modules are designed as an introduction. We will build everyone's knowledge to the same level, so you can progress through to year two.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as below:

  • English (60 credits) – you'll choose three core modules from across four areas of English
  • History (60 credits) – the core module 'Learning History' develops skills and introduces methodologies. You will also choose two more modules from a range of options that span the early middle ages to the contemporary world

You must pass year one, but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core English modules

Studying Language

On this module you will learn about the nature of language, and how to analyse it for a broad range of purposes. It aims to prepare you for conducting your own language research across your degree.

The accompanying weekly workshops will explore levels of language analysis and description – from the sounds and structure of language, through to meaning and discourse. These can be applied to all areas of English study, and will prepare you for your future modules.

In your lectures, you will see how our staff put these skills of analysis and description to use in their own research. This covers the study of language in relation to the mind, literature, culture, society, and more. Your seminars then give you a chance to think about and discuss these topics further.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Studying Literature

This module introduces the core skills for literary studies, including skills in reading, writing, researching and presentation. Topics covered include:

  • close reading
  • constructing an argument
  • handling critical material
  • introducing you to key critical questions about literary form, production and reception

You will put these new skills into practice through reading specific literary texts. These are focused on poetry and prose selected from the full range of the modern literary period (1500 to the present).

Across the year, you will learn about different interpretive approaches and concepts, and will examine literary-historical movements and transitions.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginnings of English

What was the earliest literature in English like? Where does English come from? What does ‘English’ really mean, anyway?

On this module, we’ll explore a range of English and Scandinavian literature from the medieval period. You'll also meet themes and characters who are at once familiar and strange: heroes and heroines, monster-slayers, saints, exiles, tricksters, lovers, a bear, and more.

From Tolkien to Marvel, the medieval past has been an inspiration for fantasy fiction and modern myth. As well as introducing you to stories and poetry which is exciting, inspiring and sometimes plain weird, we’ll also be looking at some of the challenges of the modern world.

Thinking about the past, means thinking about how it is used in the present day. The idea of a 'beginning' of English language and literature often gets incorporated into modern beliefs about national, ethnic and racial identity. On this module, we’ll begin the necessary work of challenging these ideas and building a better understanding of the medieval past and why it still matters.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Drama, Theatre, Performance

Who makes theatre? Where does performance happen, and who is in the audience? How is society represented on stage?

These questions are at the heart of this module, and we will explore the extraordinary variety of drama in the Western dramatic tradition. You will examine dramatic texts in relation to their historical context, spanning:

  • ancient Greek tragedy
  • medieval English drama
  • Shakespeare and his contemporaries
  • the Restoration stage
  • 19th century naturalism
  • political theatre of Brecht
  • drama and performance, for example the West End hit Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (2018), a celebration of women’s voices and history, inspired by the life of the trailblazing 17th century poet and feminist Emilia Bassano

Alongside texts, you'll also consider the extra-textual features of drama, including the performance styles of actors, the significance of performance space and place, and the composition of various audiences.

You will study selected plays in workshops, seminars and lectures, where we will explore adaptation and interpretation of the texts through different media resources. You can also take part in practical theatre-making, exploring extracts from the selected play-texts in short, student-directed scenes in response to key questions about performance.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Core history module

Learning History

Learn the skills you need to make the most of studying history.

This module aims to bridge the transition from school to university study, preparing you for more advanced work in your second year.

We will:

  • Focus on your conceptions of history as a subject, as well as your strategies as learners, so you can effectively monitor and develop your skills and understanding
  • Introduce different approaches to studying history, and different understandings of what history is for

This module is worth 20 credits.

"It’s very much a skills-based module. It was so useful. I had a long break from finishing sixth form in May, to starting uni in September – I thought 'how on Earth do I write an essay? What is this thing called referencing?!' The module took those worries away." – Emily Oxbury, History and Politics BA

Optional history modules

Making the Middle Ages, 500-1500

Discover medieval European history from 500-1500.

We explore the major forces which were instrumental in shaping the politics, society and culture in Europe, considering the last currents in historical research.

Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole.

We will consider:

  • Political structures and organisation
  • Social and economic life
  • Cultural developments

You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

This module is worth 20 credits.

From Reformation to Revolution: An Introduction to Early Modern Europe c.1500-1800

Discover key themes in the history of early modern Europe.

We analyse the religious, political, demographic, social and cultural history of this dynamic period.

Themes include:

  • Religious toleration and persecution
  • International diplomacy
  • Popular culture
  • Popular protest
  • Health, disease and disability
  • Military change
  • Monarchies and courts
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Ethnicity including Africans in Shakespeare's England
  • Urban and rural life
  • Witchcraft

This module is worth 20 credits.

Making of Modern Asia

Journey through 200 years of modern Asian history.

We explore the themes of imperialism, nationalism, political economy and democracy to build a broad understanding of some key elements in the making of modern Asia. We then focus on some local contexts, so for example, after covering imperialism, we take a closer look at Japanese imperialism in Korea, British colonialism in Burma, etc.

When looking at nationalism, we consider the emergence of ‘official nationalism’ in Thailand and Japan, and more popular nationalisms emerging from liberation struggles. On political economy, we compare and contrast Taiwan and China to illustrate the different trajectories of market, plan and command rational economies (relatively speaking).

For democracy, we consider whether Asian culture warrants an authoritarian form of ‘Asian democracy’ and whether or not democracy can be ‘built’ and engineered as though it were simply a bridge over water.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1750-1945

Explore a chronology of modern history, from 1750 to 1945.

We concentrate on:

  • key political developments in European and global history (including the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars)
  • Economic, social and cultural issues (such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations)

This module is worth 20 credits.

Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1750-1945 (Part 2)
The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
The Contemporary World since 1945

Analyse the key developments in world affairs after the Second World War.

We will consider:

  • Major international events, particularly the course and aftermath of the Cold War
  • National and regional histories, especially in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East
  • Key political and social movements
  • Political, economic and social forces

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Contemporary World Since 1945 (Part 2)

This module addresses some of the major developments in international affairs since 1945, including international events – the origins, development and culmination of the Cold War, decolonisation and the end of empire, global movements for national, sexual or racial liberation – and national or regional histories, especially in Europe and North America, Africa, and East Asia.

Whilst interested in high politics, it also addresses social movements, ideological change, and cultural developments. In doing so, it considers the political, social and cultural forces which have shaped the post-1945 world and which continue to inform our own contemporary times.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 10 August 2022.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as below:

  • English (60 credits) – choose three modules from at least two areas of study
  • History (60 credits) – select up to three modules from a wide chronological and geographical range. You can also take up to two 20-credit optional modules in American and Canadian Studies

You must pass year two, which counts 33% towards your final degree classification.

English modules

Literature, 1500 to the Present

From Talking Horses to Romantic Revolutionaries: Literature 1700-1830

This module introduces different kinds of literature, written between 1700-1830. This was a dramatic time in literary history, resulting in the Romantic period. It involved many areas of great contemporary relevance, such as class, poverty, sexuality, and slavery.

We will examine:

  • utopian literature (through Gulliver’s Travels)
  • the developing novel (such as Moll Flanders and Pride and Prejudice)
  • how irony works
  • what is self-expression
  • how the emergent genre of autobiography can be either manipulated, or used as part of a larger cause

As part of this module, you will explore novels, poems, and prose works that bring to life the intellectual, social and cultural contexts of the period.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Page
This module focuses on material written between 1580 and 1630 to provide you with an introduction to methods of reading early modern texts. Shakespeare’s poetry will be among the core texts; other canonical writers will include Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney and John Donne. You’ll explore the practice of historicised readings of early modern texts and you’ll consider the related challenges and limitations. You’ll have one hour of lectures and two hours of seminars each week.
Victorian and Fin de Siècle Literature: 1830-1910

Explore a wide variety of Victorian and fin-de-siècle literature, with examples taken from fiction, critical writing and poetry.

You will examine works by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, HG Wells and Joseph Conrad.

We will focus on understanding changes in literary forms and genres over this period, and how these relate to broader developments in Victorian social, economic and political culture.

The module is organised around the following interrelated themes:

  • Empire and race
  • Class and crime
  • Identity and social mobility
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Literature and consumerism

This module is worth 20 credits.

Literature and Popular Culture

This module investigates the relationship between literature and popular culture. You will explore works from across a range of genres and mediums, including:

  • prose fiction
  • poetry
  • comics
  • graphic novels
  • music
  • television
  • film

As well as exploring topics such as aesthetics and adaptation, material will be situated within cultural, political and historical contexts allowing for the distinction between the literary and the popular.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern and Contemporary Literature

This module charts the dramatic transformations and innovations of literature in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Moving between genres, the module unfolds chronologically from modernism, through the inter-war years, and into postmodernism and the contemporary scene.

We explore some of the huge artistic shifts of this long and turbulent period. You will examine how modern and contemporary literature connects to the cultural revolutions, intellectual debates, political and social upheavals, and ethical complexities of its times.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Texts Across Time
This module will consider key issues in the study of English language and world literature, locate language and literature in time and place, and extend your knowledge of the intellectual, political, historical, and cultural developments in language and literature.

English Language and Applied Linguistics

Language in Society

When we study language, we learn about how society works. Why do some people have more noticeable accents than others? Why are some people taken seriously when they talk, while others aren’t? How do those with power use language to manipulate us into thinking a certain way?

On this module, these are the sorts of questions you’ll be thinking about. We focus on how people use language, how language varies between different speakers, and how language is used to represent different social groups. We consider:

  • The way that language is used by people online to create communities
  • How the mainstream media uses language to represent particular groups, such as immigrants or gay people
  • The ways that language is used in particular contexts, such as the workplace
  • How advertisers use language to persuade us that we need their products
  • The relationship between language, gender and sexuality
  • How language can be used to signal a person’s race or ethnicity

You’ll learn how to conduct a sociolinguistic study which explores topics such as these. You will also spend time each week analysing original language data.

The module is worth 20 credits.

The Psychology of Bilingualism and Language Learning

Are you interested in languages and the multilingual world? Have you ever wondered how our brains process learning a second language? Would you like to teach English overseas one day? If so, this module could be for you.

Drawing on current theories of second language acquisition, we will consider:

  • How globalisation has increased bilingualism in the world
  • How languages are learnt
  • How students differ from each other in their mastery of languages
  • How the psychology of the classroom environment impacts the effectiveness of learning
  • How to motivate students and create good learner groups

You will spend three hours per week on this module, split equally between a lecture and follow-up seminar.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Texts Across Time
This module will consider key issues in the study of English language and world literature, locate language and literature in time and place, and extend your knowledge of the intellectual, political, historical, and cultural developments in language and literature.
Language Development

You’ll explore how English is learnt from making sounds as an infant through to adulthood. Topics relating to early speech development include: the biological foundations of language development, the stages of language acquisition and the influence of environment on development. Further topics which take into account later stages of development include humour and joke telling abilities, story-telling and conversational skills and bilingualism.

Literary Linguistics

All literature is written in language, so understanding how language and the mind work will make us better readers and critics of literary works.

This module brings together the literary and linguistic parts of your degree. It gives you the power to explore any text from any period by any author.

You will study how:

  • Literature can feel rich, or pacy, or suspenseful, or beautiful
  • Texts can make you laugh, cry, feel afraid, excited, or nostalgic
  • Fictional people like characters can be imagined
  • We can get inside the thoughts, feelings, and hear the speech of characters, narrators and authors
  • Imagined worlds are built, and how their atmosphere is brought to life
  • You as a reader are manipulated or connect actively with literary worlds and people

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Languages and Literatures

Chaucer and his Contemporaries

Chaucer dominates our conception of late Middle English literature, but he was one among several exceptional writers of his time.

This module focuses on 40 years of writing, to consider whether Chaucer’s concerns with identity and authority, comedy and tragedy, and wit and wisdom are uniquely his, or shared with other writers.

We will cover a wide range, including:

  • romance
  • dream vision (both mystic and secular)
  • love poetry
  • lyric

You will read works by the so-called Ricardians: Chaucer, Gower, the Gawain-poet, and Langland, but also the mystic writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe and some poetry by Thomas Hoccleve.

By the end of the module, you will have gained confidence in reading and discussing Middle English texts, and be aware of key issues around form, language, and authority and influence.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Old English: Reflection and Lament
This module explores the tradition that the poetry and prose of Old English often focuses on warfare and heroic action. You will study and analyse poems from the Exeter Book 'elegies' and also passages from Beowulf to explore this rich and rewarding genre. You'll have a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for this module.
Ice and Fire: Myths and Heroes of the North

Odin, Thor and Loki: almost everyone has heard about them, but where do their stories come from?

In this module, we will learn about the origins of their myths from various sources: images on stone and wood in the Viking Age, as well as the written texts of the Middle Ages.

We will learn about giants, dwarves, valkyries and rumour-spreading squirrels, as well as the cosmology and religion which are embedded in Old Norse mythology. We will talk about heroes and villains, from dragon-slayers to queens who kill to avenge their brothers.

The stories of Old Norse mythology have influenced writers throughout history. from Tolkien to the Marvel Universe, they are still part of our culture. This module will take you back to the beginnings and show that there are so many more marvellous myths to explore.

The module is with 20 credits.

Names and Identities

What can given names, surnames and nicknames tell us about people in the past? What determines the choice of a name for a child? Where does our hereditary surname system come from? How have place, class and gender impacted upon naming through time? This module will help you answer all these questions and more. Interactive lectures and seminars, and a project based on primary material tailored to each participant, will introduce you to the many and varied, fascinating and extraordinary types of personal name and their origins.

Drama and Performance

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage
This module offers an in-depth exploration of the historical and theatrical contexts of early modern drama. This module invites students to explore the stagecraft of innovative and provocative works by Shakespeare and key contemporaries, such as Middleton, Johnson, and Ford (amongst others). Students will explore how practical performance elements such as staging, props, costume and music shape meaning. You’ll have one hour-long lecture and one two-hour long seminar each week, with occasional screenings.
From Stanislavski to Contemporary Performance

Develop your understanding of some of the most influential performance theories and practice, from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. 

Building on the ‘Drama, Theatre, Performance’ module, you will deepen your understanding of Stanislavski and Brecht in practice, as well as exploring the work of other influential theorists and practitioners. 

Possible material includes: 

  • Konstantin Stanislavski
  • Vsevolod Meyerhold
  • Bertolt Brecht
  • Antonin Artaud
  • Jacques Lecoq
  • Ensemble physical theatre makers such as DV8, Gecko & Frantic Assembly 

For this module, you’ll have a mix of lectures and practical workshops, totalling three hours a week.

Workshops offer the opportunity for practical drama. You will explore theory in practice, through work with excerpts from canonical theatrical scripts and other performance scripts.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Twentieth-Century Plays

Theatre makers in the long 20th century have been dealing with a series of pressing artistic and social issues, many of which still concern us today.

These issues include:

  • What makes a play worth watching?
  • Why do audiences enjoy watching bad things happening?
  • How are minority groups represented on the stage?
  • How might the stage advance the cause of gender or sexual equality?
  • What role does social class or nationality play in the workings of theatrical culture?
  • How can we talk accurately about an art form like performed theatre, that is so fleeting and transitory?

In order to answer such questions, this module gives an overview of key plays and performances from the 1890s to the present. You will study these key texts in their original political, social, and cultural contexts. You will also:

  • consider their reception and afterlife
  • focus on the textual and performance effects created
  • place the texts alongside the work of relevant theorists and practitioners

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional history modules

The Rise of Modern China
In this module you will study the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. You will focus in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of ‘modernity’ in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a ‘modern’ nation-state and society. In this module you will have a two-hour lecture each week.
The Second World War and Social Change in Britain, 1939-1951: Went The Day Well?

This module surveys and analyses social change in Britain during and after the Second World War, up to the end of the Attlee’s Labour government in 1951. Key issues include:

  • changing gender roles and expectations
  • the experience and impact of rationing, bombing, conscription, voluntary service and direction by central government
  • historiographical debates about whether Britain was united against a common enemy
  • propaganda, mass communication and the management of information
  • planning for a post-war world, including the creation of the National Health Service and the reform of the education system
  • post-war reconstruction of cities
  • reactions to the Holocaust, atomic weaponry, returning service personnel, returning Prisoners of War
  • post-war austerity
  • representations of the period and the construction of memory
The Stranger Next Door: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages

The module explores the diversity of ways in which Jews and Christians interacted in middle Ages, seeking to offer alternative views to these of Jews as mere victims in a religious struggle or of economic envy. We will study the complex economic interconnections between the two groups, considering the new approaches to the role of Jewish moneylending and international trade and its connections with structures of power in both communities. The module will also investigate crucial ideas on anti- Semitism and anti-Judaism and will look into case studies of intolerance and conflict between Jews and Christians. Themes to study here are the massacres of Jews in the Rhineland during the First Crusade, the persecution of Jews during the Black Death and the construction of Blood libel and ritual murder accusations. The module will also examine the internal life of the Jewish communities of Western Europe looking at communal organisation and leadership. We will consider differences amongst Jewish communities in different locations of the medieval European landscape in their understanding of Jewish Law and tradition, as well as in their own patterns of interaction with the Christian political and religious authorities in different locations. At the same time, we will explore the common cultural and religious characteristics and the creation of extensive national and supranational Jewish networks. Finally, we will evaluate the historiography on the subject and the changing of perspectives on the history of the Jews in Europe, analysing the debates arisen amongst scholars with their own ideologies, methods and approaches.

'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthodox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.

Environmental History: Nature and the Western World, 1800-2000

Discover the environmental history of the Western World over the past two centuries. The great nature-people stories that have shaped who we are today.

You will examine the history of environmental ideas and our changing and complex attitudes to animals and nature, alongside the history of human impacts on the environment. We will use the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain as case studies. Ultimately, we ask, can environmental history save the world in the 21st century?

Topics include:

  • species history and the rewilding debate
  • the rise of environmental protection groups
  • the role of the state in environmental protection
  • the history of pollution and pesticide use
  • the National Park movement
  • the Nature Reserve and the rise of outdoor leisure and recreation
  • the emergence of modern environmentalism and campaigning
  • the role of wildlife television and natural history film-making

This module is a must for anyone wanting to pursue a career in the environmental sector.

This module is worth 20 credits

Central European History: From Revolution to War, 1848-1914

This module aims to encourage students to develop a detailed understanding of the major political, social and economic developments in Central Europe between 1848 and 1914. They should become aware of the main historiographical debates concerning the region and the Habsburg Monarchy in particular.

As a result of their historical studies and analytical thinking, students should enhance and develop a range of intellectual and transferable skills.

Soviet State and Society

This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of villains such as the Jew. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575

This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants. The module will examine the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender.

  • Venice and international context
  • The Venetian economy
  • Constitution and administration
  • Venice at war and peace
  • Patricians, citizens and popular classes
  • Women in Venice: wives and workers, whores and nuns
  • Urban fabric
  • Patronage and the arts
  • Artisans and printers
  • Religion and the republic
  • Jews and foreigners
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994

The purpose of this module is to examine current debates in the historiography about the end of the European empires in African and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics which will feature particularly strongly are

  • the emergence of a variety of different forms of African nationalism
  • the ongoing debate about the uneven economic development of Africa during the last years of empire and the first years of independence
  • the controversies surrounding the numerous colonial wars which were fought during the liberation struggle
  • the significance of race including the question of European settlements and migration
  • the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. Countries which will be examined in particular detail will include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, the Congo, Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, c.1970-1990

In the 1970s and 1980s, momentous economic changes swept through traditional industrial regions across the West, turning proud heartlands into rustbelts in less than a generation. As the lights went out in shipyards, steelworks, coal mines and manufacturing plants, a way of life was destroyed for millions of manual workers and their families, with profound repercussions on identities, communities and urban topographies. This module examines the social and cultural impact of de-industrialisation in the north of England, the German Ruhr basin, and the American Midwest, using a wealth of diverse primary sources, from government records to popular music, to tease out what it meant to live through a period of tumultuous socio-economic change. The module takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including:

  • Change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding.
  • Political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures.
  • The impact of de-industrialisation on manual workers and their ways of life.
  • Changing ideas of social class.
  • Mass unemployment and its social and cultural consequences.
  • Gender and identity, with a particular emphasis on the crisis of ‘muscular masculinity’.
  • Urban decline and regeneration.
  • Youth and youth subcultures in post-industrial cities.
  • Cultural representations of de-industrialisation, with emphasis on popular music, fiction and feature films.
Poverty, Disease and Disability: Britain, 1795-1930

This module explores the role of the poverty, disease and disability in shaping lives between 1795 and 1930, and how these intersected with ideas of and attitudes to health and welfare. It also examines representations of poverty, disease and disability in museums and on TV.

Themes include:

  • understanding poverty, disease, disability in an age of progress and reform
  • the problem of the poor? Poverty, the poor law and workhouses
  • studying poverty, disease and disability: sources and representations
  • town versus country - the healthy countryside?
  • housing conditions: the slum
  • disease
  • working conditions
  • disability and the deaf
  • ‘madness’: mental illness in an age of reason
  • hygiene and health care
  • unrest and dissatisfaction: resistance, rebellion and riot
Rule and Resistance in Colonial India, c.1757-1857

This module introduces the history of the British imperial expansion in India from the mid eighteenth century, through to the Rebellion in 1857. It covers:

  • the rise of trade relations with India
  • the growth of territorial rule through war and negotiation with Indian rulers
  • resistance to imperial rule through mutiny
  • the debate over sati (widow immolation)


Travel and Adventure in the Medieval World

The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’. The lecture and seminar topics include introduce Travel Writing, Monsters, Maps, Crusades, Merchants, Pilgrims, Explorers, Envoys, Missionaries, and Assassins. Examples are drawn from Jewish, Muslim and Christian experience.

The Victorians: Life, Thought and Culture

The module mixes intellectual, cultural and social history to produce an overview of cultural trends in Britain between c. 1830 and 1901. Key themes include:

  • The Victorians, An Overview
  • Religion: Sin and Redemption
  • Poverty
  • Cities
  • Sanitation
  • Sexuality
  • Consumerism and the Mass Market
  • Entertainment
  • Evolution
European Fascisms, 1900-1945

Examine the rise of fascist movements in interwar Europe, following the First World War.

We focus in particular on the cases of Italy and Germany and also look at other cases for comparison (i.e. Spain, Britain, France, and Romania). This in order to understand why certain movements were more popular than others and able to seize power.

We will examine:

  • the nature of fascist ideology
  • the use of violence
  • fascism and masculinity and femininity

We will also analyse the practice of the Fascist and National Socialist governments in power, comparing these with particular reference to repression and attempts to build ‘consent’, gendered policies on ‘race’, and expansion through conquest.

The module ends by considering the Axis and genocide during the Second World War.

This module is worth 20 credits.

From East India Company to West India Failure: The First British Empire

This module highlights key debates and themes in the history of the ‘first’ British Empire 1600-1807.

Topics include:

  • trade to the East and colonisation to the West

  • how the British government protected their empire and enforced a trading monopoly within it

  • the loss of the American colonies

  • the impact of abolition upon the valuable slave trade.

The module explores the key themes of ideology and identity; the concept of formal and informal empires and the causes and consequences of historical change.

Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe

This module deals with an important, but long neglected, aspect of life in the early medieval West - sexual behaviour and attitudes to human sexuality. Key issues include:

  • ancient, medieval and modern theories of sexuality
  • Christian beliefs about the family and marriage, and challenges to these
  • the regulation of sexual behaviour as expressed in law codes and books of penance,  including violent sexual activity
  • alternative sexualities
Kingship in Crisis: Politics, People and Power in Late-medieval England

Have you ever wondered what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ king?

We investigate late medieval kingship, the dynamics of politics and power, and the reasons why royal authority was challenged.

You will examine the history of late-medieval England, from the mid-13th to late-15th century, when a series of political crises rocked the English monarchy.

We focus on the political events of the period, especially the times of crisis when the monarchy faced opposition or even usurpation. This includes:

  • Simon de Montfort and the Crisis of 1258
  • Ruling in the king's name: the Ordinances of 1311
  • The depositions of Edward II (1327) and Richard II (1399)
  • Politics and Bankruptcy: Edward III and Henry IV
  • The Wars of the Roses (1450-61)
  • The tyranny of Richard III

England didn’t exist in isolation, however. You’ll also explore its relations with Scotland and Wales, considering how English power was imposed on subject populations, and how they resisted. Case studies include Robert Bruce and Own Glyn Dwr.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Imagining 'Britain': Decolonising Tolkien et al
Germany and Europe in the Short 20th Century, 1918-1990

The aim of the module is to provide knowledge about the history of Germany from the end of World War I to the reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It will provide a perspective based on the role of Germany within the European (and broadly global) context from pariah to relevant actor of the European integration process. It will encompass the process of democratisation in the interwar period, the National Socialist dictatorship and the Holocaust and the post 1945 fragmentation until the reunification. It will also include a reflection on the two German dictatorships and the pre and post-unification politics of memory. 

International History of the Middle East and North Africa 1918-1995

The module offers a knowledge of key developments in the Middle East and North Africa between the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the emergence of a politicised version of Islam. Students should familiarise themselves with the key historical debates surrounding, for example, the relative impact of regional and international factors and begin to work with some primary documentary material relating to political and diplomatic developments. They will also be encouraged to use primary source material from the region and to consider the role which historical events have played in framing current problems in the Middle East and North Africa.

A Tale of Seven Kingdoms: Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age England from Bede to Alfred the Great

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, has forced historians to re-evaluate the Anglo-Saxon period and ask new questions about this crucial formative stage of English history. 

The history of much of this period of conversions, conflicts and cultural renaissances is documented by Bede, a monk from Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria (c. 673–735). In 793, the world described to us by Bede was thrown into chaos by a Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne, an event that some Anglo-Saxons interpreted in apocalyptic terms. The subsequent settlement of Vikings across Northern and Eastern England profoundly changed the social, cultural and economic structures of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

This course covers the period from the beginning of the seventh century to the end of the ninth, ending with the reign of Alfred, the only English king to ever achieve the moniker 'the Great'. 

Sex, Lies and Gossip? Women of Medieval England
Later medieval England was a patriarchal society. Women were considered of great importance because of their roles as mothers. However, medieval women were also considered to be more passionate and sexual than men; they were considered wile and guileful and it was thought that they spent much of their time gossiping. Using a wide range of translated medieval sources this course will pose questions about how English women overcame and operated within these stereotypical preconceptions. It will examine women in terms of progression through their life cycle from daughters under the protection of their fathers, to the work available to single women, to married women and the law – mothers under the ‘protection’ of their husbands – and then to widows and the increased opportunities available to these women. In doing so, it will examine a number of aspects of medieval women’s lives from female piety to women and work, medieval attitudes to women and sex and the gendered medieval understanding of power and authority. The course will allow students to recover much of the essence of medieval life. Were later medieval English women merely disadvantaged or were they actively downtrodden within a patriarchal society? Further, it considers the extent to which the foundations of modern gender inequalities were established in the middle ages.
The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of the slave trade in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902. The module is divided into three major geographic and chronological sections. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed. In the second part, we will focus on India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny (aka “the Sepoy Rebellion”). In the final section, we will discuss Britain’s participation in the “Scramble for Africa” and the rise of “popular imperialism” with the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. The final, pre-revision class meeting will also discuss the metropolitan aspects of empire, examining London’s status as “the Imperial Metropolis.
Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900

The module introduces students to the cultural historiography on how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities (covering the period 1840-1900). In particular, it focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change. These provide a number of thematic approaches that will build into a composite picture of how experience was reshaped during this period. Topics may include:

  • ‘Haussmannisation’ processes across Europe and the contested terrain of the boulevard;
  • The development of mapping, surveying and statistics;
  • The bourgeois home as a site of identity, the meanings of interior design;
  • The department store and new contested sites of consumer culture;
  • Photography as a means of both identity-creation and detection;
  • The cultural meanings of pollution and waste;
  • Slum literature as a source of anxiety and control,
  • Museum culture, exhibitions, and the ordering of imperial knowledge.
The Tokugawa World: 1600-1868
This module covers two-and-a-half centuries in Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers. Often characterized as a period of relative stability, it was also a time of profound social, cultural and intellectual change. Lectures and seminars address some of the historical forces that would combine to transform society and lay the foundations for Japan’s subsequent encounters with modernity. Key themes include: the premises of Tokugawa rule, control mechanisms and relations with daimyo lords; the self-imposed policy of seclusion, trade and external relations; transport networks, class mobility and urbanization; the emergence of ‘the Floating World’ and the growth of popular culture; natural disasters, famine and economic crises; the responses of competing schools of thought drawing on Japanese, Chinese and European texts to address problems within Japanese society; the ‘Opening of Japan’ and the collapse of the Tokugawa World.
From the Tsar to the Emperor: Russia in the Early Modern Period 1547–1725

This module studies the emergence of Muscovite Russia as a major player on the European arena by the early 18th century.

It examines:

  • the rapid territorial and racial expansion from the 16th century and its consequences
  • Muscovy’s first civil war
  • the struggle of the Russian crown to curtail the power of its aristocracy
  • the ground-breaking reforms of Peter I
  • the beginnings of Russia’s slow progress towards Westernisation. 
British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939

Discover British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939.

We focus on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world. This includes:

  • The making of the ententes
  • Entry into the two world wars
  • Appeasement and relations with other great powers

We also discuss the wider background factors which influenced British policy, touching on Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Consumers & Citizens: Society & Culture in 18th Century England

This thematic module examines the social and cultural world of eighteenth century England in the period when it enters the modern world.

Areas for consideration include:

  • the structure of society
  • constructions of gender and culture
  • family life and marriage
  • the urban world
  • consumerism and culture
  • the press and the reading public
  • crime
  • social protest & the rise of radical politics
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You will take 120 credits of modules split as below:

You can take 80 credits in History, made up of a 40 credit year-long Special Subject and a dissertation, and 40 credits in English (two 20 credit modules)


Take 60 credits in history, made up of a 40 credit year-long Special Subject and 20 credit optional module, and 60 credits in English (which can include a dissertation).

In either scenario, your dissertation can combine both English and History.

You must pass year three, which counts 67% towards your final degree classification.

Optional English modules

Depending on your module choices in your first and second year, you will choose three modules in your final year in English that cover at least two areas of study.

Literature, 1500 to the Present

The Self and the World: Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century

The years from 1660 to 1830 are enormously important, especially in terms of the representation of the self in literature: Milton promoted the idea of the poet inspired by God; Pope and Swift mocked the possibility of anyone truly knowing their self; Wordsworth used poetry to explore his own life; and Byron and Austen provided ironic commentaries on the self-obsessions of their peers. This period also saw the rise of the novel (a form that relies upon telling the story of lives), a flourishing trade in biography, and the emergence of new genre, autobiography. This module will look at some of the most significant works of the period with particular reference to the relationship between writers and their worlds. Topics might include: the emergence, importance and limitations of life-writing; self- fashioning; the construction – and deconstruction - of the ‘Romantic’ author’; transmission and revision; translation and imitation; ideas of the self and gender; intertextuality, adaptation, and rewriting; creating and destroying the past; and writing revolution. Texts studied will range across poems, novels and prose.

Contemporary Fiction

Explore the novel from the late twentieth century onwards, in Britain and beyond.

We will concentrate on the formal operations and innovations of selected novelists, considering how the contemporary socio-historical context influences these questions of form. Topics considered include:

  • an interrogation of the ‘post-consensus novel’
  • an exploration of postcolonial texts which represent the transatlantic slave trade
  • the cultural politics of late twentieth-century and twenty-first century Scottish literature

Contemporary fiction is focused on writing emerging from Britain and closely-related contexts in the post-war period. This module offers strands structured around a number of political, social and cultural frameworks in Britain. These include:

  • formal analysis and literary innovations in Britain
  • temporalities and the representation of time
  • issues of gender, race and class
  • histories of colonialism and slavery
  • national traditions and politics of state
  • the country and the city
  • postmodernism

This module particularly explores the network of relationships between context, content and form, supported by related literary and cultural theory and philosophy.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Making Something Happen: 20th Century Poetry and Politics

This module introduces key modern and contemporary poets.

You will build a detailed understanding of how various poetic forms manifest themselves in particular historical moments. Unifying the module is an attention to poets’ responses to the political and ideological upheavals of the 20th century.

The module will include such (primarily) British and Irish poets as:

  • W.B. Yeats
  • T.S. Eliot
  • W. H. Auden
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Ted Hughes
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Wislawa Szymborska
  • Tony Harrison
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Derek Mahon
  • Adrienne Rich
  • Geoffrey Hill
  • Jo Shapcott
  • Patience Agbabi
  • Alice Oswald

Some of the forms examined will include: the elegy, the pastoral (and anti-pastoral), the ode, the sonnet (and sonnet sequence), the ekphrastic poem, the version or retelling, the villanelle, the parable and the sestina.

To develop a more complete perspective on each poet’s engagement with 20-century formal and political problems, we also examine these figures’ writings in other modes. This includes critical essays, manifestos, speeches, and primary archival materials such as letters and manuscript drafts.

Grounding each week will be readings on poetry and the category of the ‘political’ from an international group of critics, including such thinkers as Theodor Adorno, Charles Bernstein, Claudia Rankine, Peter McDonald, Angela Leighton, Christopher Ricks and Marjorie Perloff.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Single-Author Study

This stranded module provides students with a detailed introduction to the major works of a single author (e.g. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence). Students will select one author to study from a range on offer. They will then have the opportunity to consider in detail important thematic and stylistic aspects of their chosen author’s work, taking account of the chronological development of his/her writing practice (if relevant), and his/her relationship to key historical and literary contexts.

The Gothic Tradition

This module focuses on the connections between literary texts, politics, and relevant historical/cultural contexts in gothic texts. You may cover:

  • poetry
  • novels
  • graphic novels
  • films

Examples include The Haunting of Hill House (both Shirley Jackson’s novel and the Netflix adaptation), The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez, and Saga of the Swamp Thing by Moore, Bissette and Totleben, and The Visions of the Daughters of Albion by William Blake.

You will explore various critical and theoretical approaches to literature, film, comics, adaptation, and popular culture. The module also seeks to decolonise Gothic Studies, including work by creators from a wide range of backgrounds who identify with a diverse range of subject positions.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Island and Empire

While the vexed questions of British identity and its relationship to empire have been at the forefront of political debate in the last decade, they have also been integral to literary production for many centuries. This module interrogates English and British representations of colonisation and empire, within Great Britain and Ireland and with particular reference to India. Well known writers such as Edmund Spenser, Jonathan Swift, Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and Salman Rushdie, will be set against less familiar voices, to consider the ways in which dominant narratives come about and can be challenged.

Oscar Wilde and Henry James: British Aestheticism and Commodity Culture

Henry James and Oscar Wilde had a passionate dislike of each other, as well as very different values. Even so, they moved in similar circles. Both men found themselves at the centre of British cultural and intellectual life, experimenting within the same set of literary, critical and theatrical modes.

This module uses the writings of Oscar Wilde and Henry James, alongside some of their contemporaries, to examine changes in literary culture and the practices of literary composition in the late 19th century.

We will explore:

  • The role of new technology in literary creativity
  • The growth of mass and 'celebrity' culture
  • The development of consumerism and resulting commodification of literary art
  • The changing relationship of art to politics
  • Anxieties about artistic originality and plagiarism
  • Attempts (via censorship) to police literary expressivity

You will study a range of texts by Wilde and James, including drama, fiction and criticism. These will be compared with pieces by a number of their contemporaries (including Walter Pater and William Morris), in order to assess both the modernity and radicalism of their writings.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Reformation and Revolution: Early Modern literature and drama 1588-1688

Literature and Drama across the early modern period contributed to, and was often caught up in, dramatic changes in social, political, and religious culture which changed the way that people experienced their lives and the world around them. This module gives students the opportunity to read a wide range of texts in a multitude of genres (from drama, to prose fiction, pamphlets and poetry) in their immediate contexts, both cultural and intellectual. This module will situate the poetry, prose and drama between 1580 and 1700 against the backdrops of civil war and political revolution, scientific experimentation, and colonial expansion; in doing so, it will ask how the seventeenth century forms our current understandings of the world. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to develop a specific and sophisticated understanding of historical period, and to see connections and changes in literary and dramatic culture in a period which stretches from the Spanish Armada of 1588 to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.

One and Unequal: World Literatures in English

This module examines the late twentieth and early twenty-first century globe through its correlates in fiction. The primary materials for the module will be post-war Anglophone works drawn from a wide geographical range across the world. After introducing the history of the idea of world literature, these works will be situated within a series of theoretical ‘worlds’: world literary systems; post-colonial criticism; cosmopolitanism; world ecologies; resource culture; literary translation theory. The module will also attend to critiques of 'world literature’ as a concept.

Modern Irish Literature and Drama

Examine 20th century Irish literature and drama.

Taking the Irish Literary Revival as a starting-point, you will consider authors in their Irish and European context. Such authors include:

  • W.B. Yeats
  • J.M. Synge
  • Lady Gregory
  • James Joyce
  • Seán O'Casey
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Brian Friel
  • Marina Carr

We focus on reading texts in relation to their social, historical, and political contexts.

This includes tracking significant literary and cultural responses to Irish experiences of colonial occupation, nationalist uprising and civil war, partition and independence, socio-economic modernisation, and the protracted period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Songs and Sonnets: Lyric poetry from Medieval Manuscript to Shakespeare and Donne

Through the exploration of lyric poetry, this module examines cultural and literary change from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. It will consider the rise of ‘named poet’, the interaction of print and manuscript culture, the representation of love, and the use of the female voice. It will develop further students’ confidence in handling formal poetic terminology and reading poetry from this period. It will also enable students to think pragmatically about the transmission of lyric in modern editions, and about how best to represent the form.

English Language and Applied Linguistics

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

The module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the process of English Language Teaching (ELT) and of the theoretical underpinnings of this practice. In this module students will learn the principles behind the learning and teaching of key aspects and skills of English, including:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening
  • intercultural communicative skills

Students will also learn how to apply these theoretical principles to the development of teaching materials. This module will therefore be of interest to students who want to pursue a teaching career, and in particular to those interested in teaching English as a second or foreign language.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Language and the Mind

Speaking, listening, reading, and writing are a complex set of behaviours that are a fundamental part of our daily lives. And yet they remain difficult to fully explain.

When you hear ‘FIRE’, you immediately look for an exit and start moving. Yet all that a speaker has done is produce a string of sounds. Your mind distinguishes these from the murmuring of other voices, feet clomping on the floor, and any background music. Your mind matches the sounds f-i-r-e with a word, retrieves the meaning, and relates them to the current circumstances and responds accordingly.

How does the mind do this? And what makes our minds so special that we can do this? On this module, we begin to address these questions.

You will consider:

  • Is there a language gene?
  • What makes human language different from animal communication?
  • What is the relationship between thought and language?
  • Does everyone talk to themselves? What purpose does our inner voice serve?
  • How do we learn language? And does cognition underpin our ability to learn language?
  • What do language deficits tell us about language and the brain?
  • How do we understand and produce speech, words, and sentences?
  • What is the best way to teach children to read?
  • How is sign language similar to/different from spoken language?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Advanced Stylistics

This module offers an advanced study of the language of literary texts and how it impacts reading and interpretation. It bridges the gap between the literary and linguistics aspects of our BA degrees. It also equips you with skills that will be useful in the teaching of English, or for a career in publishing.

You will study:

  • literary style and technique
  • the style of poetry and narrative
  • the representation of characters' voices and consciousness
  • the style of difficult texts, such as surrealism
  • the history of literary style

You will learn to explain how style contributes to meaning and interpretation, and why texts affect you in different ways.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Language and Feminism

This module provides comprehensive knowledge of feminist theory, as applied to a series of language and linguistic contexts.

You will explore a range of analytical approaches to language, including conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, and interactional sociolinguistics. You will also respond to, and critically engage with, contemporary real-world problems associated with gender and sexuality, through the consideration of discourse-based texts.

Topics covered include:

  • gender and sexual identity construction in a range of interactive contexts
  • sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and heteronormative representations in texts
  • feminist theory from the 1970s to the present, with particular focus on contemporary approaches to gender theory

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Languages and Literatures

English Place-Names

The module uses the study of place-names to show the various languages – British, Latin, French, Norse and English – that have been spoken in England over the last 2000 years.

You will learn how place-name evidence can be used as a source for the history of English, including:

  • its interaction with the other languages
  • its regional and dialectal patterns
  • its changing vocabulary

We also consider the interdisciplinary contribution that place-names offer to historians and geographers.

For this module's assessment, you can choose a geographical area of particular interest.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Old English Heroic Poetry
This module gives an opportunity to those who already have a basic knowledge of Old English language and literature to explore some of the astonishing range of texts from the earliest stages of English literature. The texts studied are heroic and Christian. Themes include Germanic myth and legend, heroic endeavour, Christian passion. A study of the epic poem Beowulf — its characters, its themes, its ‘meaning’ — is essential to the module. Texts are read in Old English (with plenty of help given).
Dreaming the Middle Ages: Visionary Poetry in Scotland and England

The genre of dream-vision inspired work by all the major poets of the Middle Ages, including William Langland, the Pearl-Poet, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The course will aim to give you a detailed knowledge of a number of canonical texts in this genre, as well as ranging widely into the alliterative revival, and chronologically into the work of John Skelton in the early sixteenth century. The course will depend upon close, detailed reading of medieval literary texts, as well as focusing on the variety and urgency of issues with which dream poetry is concerned: literary, intellectual, social, religious and political.

The Viking Mind

Our images of Vikings come largely from the Icelandic sagas. These present a Viking Age of daring exploits, global exploration and bloody feuds, as carried out by valiant warriors and feisty women. But how accurate are the sagas when it comes to understanding what really happened in the Viking Age? Can they provide an insight into the Viking mind?

This module explores Norse and Viking cultural history, using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in the study of texts. 

Topics covered include:

  • The Viking Age and Viking society
  • Exploration and diaspora
  • Gender, marriage and family
  • Religion and belief
  • Outlaws
  • Poetry
  • The supernatural

Your one-hour lectures will provide the evidence base for discussion in the two-hour, student-led seminars. The seminars also include some language work.

Assessment for this module is by a one-hour exam of comment and analysis, and a 3000-word project on a topic of your choice in consultation with a tutor.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Songs and Sonnets: Lyric poetry from Medieval Manuscript to Shakespeare and Donne

Through the exploration of lyric poetry, this module examines cultural and literary change from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. It will consider the rise of ‘named poet’, the interaction of print and manuscript culture, the representation of love, and the use of the female voice. It will develop further students’ confidence in handling formal poetic terminology and reading poetry from this period. It will also enable students to think pragmatically about the transmission of lyric in modern editions, and about how best to represent the form.

Drama and Performance

Changing Stages: Theatre Industry and Theatre Art

Peter Pan, Les Misérables, Hamilton... just a few of the iconic productions that started life in London’s West End, or on Broadway in New York. But why and how did they become so successful?

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen major changes in the way theatre is financed, produced and presented, both on stage and on screen. This module explores the fascinating world of theatre production, covering:

  • the development of long-running, commercial productions
  • the role of the theatre producer in making theatre
  • subsidised theatre
  • touring and national theatre companies
  • reviewing cultures
  • relationship between the theatre and film industries
  • the advent of the mega-musical

Examining the mainstream and the fringes, we apply case studies including Shakespeare in production, new plays, revivals, and international hits like the ones listed above, illustrating how theatre responds to changing contexts and audiences.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern Irish Literature and Drama

Examine 20th century Irish literature and drama.

Taking the Irish Literary Revival as a starting-point, you will consider authors in their Irish and European context. Such authors include:

  • W.B. Yeats
  • J.M. Synge
  • Lady Gregory
  • James Joyce
  • Seán O'Casey
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Brian Friel
  • Marina Carr

We focus on reading texts in relation to their social, historical, and political contexts.

This includes tracking significant literary and cultural responses to Irish experiences of colonial occupation, nationalist uprising and civil war, partition and independence, socio-economic modernisation, and the protracted period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Reformation and Revolution: Early Modern literature and drama 1588-1688

Literature and Drama across the early modern period contributed to, and was often caught up in, dramatic changes in social, political, and religious culture which changed the way that people experienced their lives and the world around them. This module gives students the opportunity to read a wide range of texts in a multitude of genres (from drama, to prose fiction, pamphlets and poetry) in their immediate contexts, both cultural and intellectual. This module will situate the poetry, prose and drama between 1580 and 1700 against the backdrops of civil war and political revolution, scientific experimentation, and colonial expansion; in doing so, it will ask how the seventeenth century forms our current understandings of the world. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to develop a specific and sophisticated understanding of historical period, and to see connections and changes in literary and dramatic culture in a period which stretches from the Spanish Armada of 1588 to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.

History Special Subject

Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia

In the early 20th century, Russia embarked on one of the most momentous experiments in history – to transform not only global political structures and social relations, but human nature itself.

Fundamental to the revolutionary project was the creation of a new culture, which would construct and promote new visions of the desired present and ideal future. Through culture, individuals would learn to think of themselves, their relations with others, and their relations with the world in new ways.

On this module, you will:

  • Be introduced to Russian revolutionary culture and trace its evolution during the 20th century
  • Engage with Soviet film, literature, graphic arts and architecture, both state-sponsored and ideologically non-conforming
  • Read first-person testimonies written by ordinary Soviet citizens, offering fascinating insights into historical problems of social and self-identity and changing inter-relations between the individual and collective and state and society

Through grappling with these sources, you will discover new ways of understanding how culture and politics interact and shape one another. This is a vital skill for engaging critically with political and media discourses in the current age of ‘fake news’ and ‘virtual reality’.

This module is aimed at anyone interested in modern Russian history, in the significance of culture in political change, and the role of politics in constructing culture.

This module is worth 40 credits.

The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe
This special subject surveys and analyses the place of Jews in modern European history. Throughout the modern period, Jews lived in Europe as part of a minority. The module is concerned to analyse the enduring, productive and resilient relation between Jews and non-Jews. It is the contention of this module that the story of the relationship’s development and evolution can tell us a great deal of the history of Europe as a whole.
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78

This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the nineteenth century as the world of the samurai was confronted by Western expansion and the Age of Steam. It explores the forces at work in Japan’s rapid transformation from an ‘ancien régime’ under the rule of the Shogun into a ‘modern’ imperial power. Original documents examined in class draw on the growing range of Japanese primary sources available in English translation, together with the extensive works of Victorian diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other foreign residents in the treaty ports. You will have four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.

Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England

This module evaluates the ways in which ideas during the Renaissance had an impact on both long-distance exploration and interstate relations. Also, of primary importance will be situating Tudor England in a pan-European context, thereby helping students better understand the rise of this island nation to become a global superpower. Topics covered will include:

  • Renaissance attitudes to human potential
  • Motivations for overseas exploration and travel
  • Beginnings of European imperialism
  • Continuities and changes in diplomacy
  • Religion and foreign policy
  • Travel literature and cultural diplomacy
  • Xenophobia and cosmopolitanism
Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
International history is dominated by wars; historians and international relations scholars focus with an almost obsessive zeal on the causes and consequences of conflict. The intermittent periods of peace are rarely scrutinised, other than to assess the imperfections of peace treaties and thus extrapolate the seeds of future wars. This module offers a corrective to this tendency, taking as its focus the multifarious efforts that have been made since 1815 to substitute peace for war. These include diplomatic efforts (e.g. post-war conferences, legalistic mechanisms such as the UN, arms control protocols, etc.), and those advanced by non-state actors (e.g. national and transnational peace movements, anti-war protests, etc.). Taking a broad definition of the term peace , and focusing predominantly (though not exclusively) on Britain, this module revisits some of the pivotal episodes of the 19th and 20th centuries, exposing and interrogating the often complex relationship between war and peace that emerged, and thus arriving at an alternative history of the period.
The Past That Won't Go Away: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

This module examines the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), its underlying causes and legacy for present-day Spain. Commencing with the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931, students will consider the principal historical forces and conditions that gave rise to the outbreak of war in 1936 in Spain. The module is delivered through a combination of lecture and student-led seminars in which students present their understanding of a specific historical event, theme or ideas through their study of primary and secondary sources, and respective historiographical debates. Thus, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the war through propaganda, myth, revolutionary ideology, anti-clerical and gendered violence, as well as, for example, the significance of Badajoz and Guernica. The conflict is also considered in the wider context of the ‘European Civil War’; specifically, the role of military interventions on the part of regimes in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union, and the influence of non-interventions by Britain and France. Using Helen Graham’s notion of the ‘past that won’t go away’, the module concludes with a reflection on the legacy of the Civil War in contemporary Spain.

From Revelation to ISIS: Apocalyptic Thought from the 1st to 21st Century
The need to infuse the present moment with apocalyptic meaning is an important theme in the history of ideas. Concerns about the day of judgement, Antichrist, the millennium and the end of time have a significant impact upon many different individuals and societies throughout history, finding expression in literature, architecture and a wide variety of artistic media. In some cases, apocalyptic anxiety directly influenced the actions of kings, emperors, ecclesiastical leaders and religious communities. Students will uncover systems of belief about the end of history and trace the impact of such traditions upon states, societies and religious institutions.
Plague, Fire and the Reimagining of the Capital 1600-1720: The Making of Modern London

In 1665, London suffered the worst plague epidemic since the Black Death, killing over 97,000 people. The following year, the Great Fire destroyed four-fifths of the ancient City of London within three days. This module explores the impact of these events and places them within the context of the 1660s and the city’s past and future history.

We will investigate how Londoners across the social spectrum responded to natural disasters and crises, the challenges that these presented to community values and group identities and how the spread of news reflected fears over religious difference and terrorist plots. The module also examines the changing character of the city across the period including concerns over health, the environment and the use of green space.

Transnationalising Italy: A History of Modern Italy in a Transnational Perspective

The module looks at the history of modern Italy (19th-21 century) from a transnational framework in order to illuminate different facets of the connections between Italy and the wider world. The module makes use of the methodological innovations of a transnational approach to put emphasis on movement, interaction, connections and exchange. It examines key moments and developments in the history of modern Italy by addressing the connections and circulations (of ideas, people, and goods) that cross borders. 

A Green and (un) Pleasant Land? Society, Culture and the Evolution of the British Countryside

This module explores the relationship between society, culture and the British countryside between 1800 and 1918. It examines both perceptions and realities, and reveals a dynamic British countryside which both reflected and shaped society and culture and forged an enigmatic relationship with the urban. Themes include:

  • perceptions and popular representations of the British countryside
  • constructing a rural idyll
  • Englishness and national identity
  • exposing the reality of living and working conditions in the countryside
  • the (un) healthy countryside? - poverty, disease and insanity
  • the agency of the labouring population
  • the radical countryside
  • constructing gender in the British countryside
  • the leisured countryside
  • animal-human relations
  • the preservation and conservation movement 
  • the evolving relationship between town and country
  • public history: representations of the British countryside 
Imperial Eyes: the Body in Enlightenment Thought, c.1730-1830

This module explores the role of empire and ideas of race, gender and disability in the eighteenth-century enlightenment. The module includes topics such as:

  • What role colonial encounter played in Enlightenment theories of human development
  • How Enlightenment scholars imagined bodily difference
  • The place of the slave trade in Enlightenment thought
  • Enlightenment ideas of the body, sexuality and disability
  • Colonized people's responses to Enlightenment thinking
Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America
Once dismissed as the “Me Decade” (Tom Wolfe), or a time when “it seemed like nothing happened” (Peter Carroll), the 1970s have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent American historical scholarship. This module introduces students to the narratives of crisis and decline that defined the 1970s and which helped make the decade such a transformative period in American life - recasting the United States and its society, politics and culture in significant and far-reaching ways - whilst encouraging students to think critically about those narratives and their utility for subsequent processes of political, socio-economic and cultural change. We will explore developments such as the growth of identity politics and the cult of the individual, debates over American foreign policy abroad and social policy at home, the rise of populist conservatism, the market and neo-liberalism, anxieties over the city, the environment and the political system, and a broader political and cultural power shift from Rustbelt to Sunbelt, as we seek to understand why the 1970s are now regarded as the decade “that brought us modern life - for better or worse” (David Frum).
British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1950

The module explores the cultural transformations in Britain brought on by the shift to a Fordist economy (roughly covering the period 1920-50), and the social and cultural contestations that resulted. It takes chronological and thematic approaches, and topics may include:

  • New experiences of factory work and the rationalisation of diverse areas of everyday life;
  • New forms of advertising and commodity culture, and the anxieties and opportunities these produced;
  • New forms of industrial urban leisure (e.g. the cinema and dance hall) and their role in promoting social change;
  • Performances of self-hood and the contested politics of movement and habit;
  • The perceived impact of Americanisation on national traditions, values and ways of life;
  • The rise of the ‘expert’ across a range of fields to manage working-class behaviour;
  • The development of social science and the problems of knowing ‘the masses’; Post-WW2 reconstruction and the early years of the Welfare State;
After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s

In the historiography, the 1970s and 1980s are often referred to as a ‘landslide’ (E. Hobsbawm) or a ‘time of troubles’ (A. Marwick) for the West, which, it is argued, followed upon the ‘Golden Age’ of material affluence and cultural liberalisation that characterised the post-war period. At the same time, historical scholarship is only just beginning to make inroads into a field that has been extensively documented by cultural critics, the media and the social sciences. The module will engage critically with the dominant conceptualisation of the 1970s and 1980s as crisis decades and ask about the contribution that Contemporary History can make to our understanding of the period. It focuses on the UK and W-Germany as case studies, but will also look at developments in the West more broadly, exploring economic, social and cultural change as well as continuity. It takes thematic approaches, analysing topics including:

  • Détente and the second Cold War;
  • the crisis of industrialism and structural economic change;
  • social change and continuity, with special emphasis on the class structure;
  • the disintegration of consensus politics and the rise of the New Right;
  • liberalisation, new social movements and cultural politics;
  • domestic terrorism, the public and the state; heritage, memory and nostalgia.
The Black Death

In 1348 the Black Death arrived in England. By 1350 the disease had killed half of the English population. The module concentrates upon the stories of the epidemics' survivors and what they did to adapt to a world turned upside down by plague. It examines the impact of this unprecedented human disaster upon the society and culture of England between 1348 and 1520. It examines four particular groups of survivors:

  • Peasants
  • Merchants
  • Gentry
  • Women

The module explores English society through translated medieval sources. Themes include:

  • Impact of the Black Death
  • Religious and scientific explanations of the plague
  • Changes in peasant society and how peasants lived after the plague  Merchants, their lives, businesses and shifting attitudes towards them
  • Gentry society and culture in the fifteenth century and the development of an entrepreneurial ‘middling sort’
  • Women’s lives and experiences in a post-plague patriarchal society The module poses a simple question: How central is the Black Death in explanations of long-term historical change and the evolution of the modern world?
Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England

This module explores religious ‘faith’ in England from c. 1215 to the beginning of the Reformation in 1534.

The English church made great efforts in this period to consolidate Christianity amongst the masses through wide-reaching programmes of instruction, regulation and devotion. However, historians disagree as to how successful the church was in its efforts.

The module investigates the relationship between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ religion and examines how the church sought to maintain its authority in matters of faith. It asks how people responded and the degree to which they fashioned their own religious practices and beliefs. It also considers the violent repression by church and crown of those deemed ‘heretics’.

It looks at the condemned teachings of the Oxford academic John Wycliffe and the significance of those who followed his ideas, known as Lollards.

Module convener: Dr Rob Lutton

The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652

This module surveys and analyses political, religious, social, cultural and military changes during the civil wars fought across the British Isles and the British Atlantic between 1639 and 1652. The major topics to be explored include:

  • the causes of the civil wars
  • the mobilisation of civilian communities
  • the course of the civil wars
  • the impact of war on individuals and communities
  • religious and political change
  • the growth of religious and political radicalism
  • print culture and propaganda
  • the changing roles of women
  • the issues surrounding the public trial and execution of the king
  • the abolition of the British monarchy and the House of Lords
  • the ‘Celtic dimension’ of the conflict
  • the Civil Wars in the British Atlantic
Victorians in Italy: Travelling South in the Nineteenth Century

This module examines the history of travel to and within Italy in accounts written by British travellers in the period c.1780-c.1914, especially these key topics:

  • methodologies necessary for analysing travel writing as historical evidence
  • the nature of the 'Grand Tour', including the experiences of women travellers
  • collecting and the development of notions of taste
  • the changing nature of travel writing in the nineteenth century, including the Romanticisation of travel
  • the appearance of middle class travellers as 'tourists'
  • the 'guide book', a new genre of writing

History options

Dissertation in History

This module involves the in-depth study of a historical subject from which you will create a 10,000 word dissertation. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task.

Recent dissertation topics have included:

  • Richard II, William Shakespeare and the Revolution of 1399
  • The Image of the Male Witch in Early Modern Iceland
  • Lord Salisbury and the Mediterranean Agreements: Revisiting Anglo-German Relations, 1886-1896
  • A Re-evaluation of Prince Lichnowsky's Role as the German Ambassador in London in the July 1914 Crisis
  • Interwar British Fascist Movements and Race, 1922-1940
  • 'No Country, No Home': The Abandonment of the South Vietnamese by the United States after the Vietnam War
  • Visions of Loathing and Desire: Representations of Masculinity in Late Soviet Posters

You may also choose to take a 20-credit history optional module. 

Britain on Film
This course analyses the history of Britain since the 1930s through twelve classic films. We will examine the films as historical documents, that is, as interventions in the cultural, social, and political debates of their time, and as guides to those questions for historians. The questions to ask are: what do these films tell us about the society which produced them? What do they tell us about social, political, cultural and intellectual debates of the period in which they were made? How do the films address those debates? The films change each year, but will include: the documentaries of Humphrey Jennings, Ealing Comedy, British New Wave, 60s cinema, Derek Jarman, and “heritage” costume drama. Workload: every week students will watch one film and do a detailed synopsis of the film in the class, and will also do other class tasks based on reading articles or book sections.
'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthodox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.

Italy at War, 1935-45

Spending four hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935-45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences. As source material you will have the chance to explore diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers and magazines, newsreels, as well as examining the representation of the war in literature and cinema. You will have four hours of seminars each week for this module.

The Rise (and Demise?) of Capitalism

This module examines the development of capitalism from the 15th to the 21st century. It uses England/Britain as its case study, looking at both imperial developments and England’s/Britain’s wider role in world trade.

In particular, this module charts the varying manifestations of capitalism (commercial; industrial; financial; consumer) and how and why the character of capitalism has changed over time.

It also looks at who benefitted/benefits and who lost/loses under each form of capitalism and how it worked/works in practice

The 1960's: A Decade of Change?

This module surveys and analyses developments across what Arthur Marwick has called the ‘long Sixties’ in Western Europe and North America from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

Content will include coverage of the following:

•    The Sixties and memory
•    The 1950s and consensus
•    Permissiveness and the sexual revolution
•    Women’s experiences
•    The Civil Rights Movement
•    The Vietnam War
•    Protest Movements and 1968
•    Youth Culture
•    The Watergate Scandal

There will be a particular emphasis on exploring the use of, and critical engagement with, the extensive primary material which is available for the period.

Peoples, Places, Races and Monsters: the Known and the Unknown in High-Medieval Travel

The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’.

Napoleonic Europe and its Aftermath, 1799-1848

Napoleon broadened and reshaped the dynamics of the French Revolution, war and state reform. He was also a symbol of a new world where an individual from a lower noble family and an obscure island could dominate the continent. The module takes a chronological view of politics, international affairs, war, personalities and ideas.

Coverage will focus on France, the German states, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Northern Italy. 

Global Histories of Labour and Capital: Perspectives from India

This module will focus on the histories of labour and capital and will explain how these two histories have shaped the modern world, particularly South Asia. It will approach a given topic from a global angle and then will illustrate it through specific western and non-western examples. It covers the following themes: 

  • Industrialization: Time, Discipline, and Work
  • Capital and Labour Alienation
  • Capitalism & the History of the Night Work and Sleep 
  • Welfare Capitalism
  • Machines, Artisans, and Industrialization
  • Craft Cultures and Skills
  • Child Labour and Working-Class families
  • Working-Class Childhoods and Schooling
  • Domestic Servants and the Colonial Master
The Celtic Fringe: Scotland and Ireland, c.1066-1603

Both Scotland and Ireland were neighbours to the medieval ‘superpower’ that was England, which throughout this period was not only economically more powerful than either Scotland or Ireland, but which was politically and militarily aggressive towards its neighbours.

This module will address how Scotland and Ireland fared with their troublesome neighbour. How Scotland and Ireland responded to English aggression will offer students the opportunity to explore and engage with the contrasting outcomes for both countries. 

The Rise and Fall of Thatcherism, 1975-1992

This module explores the political, social and cultural history of late twentieth-century Britain. It does so by engaging critically with the political project that is often referred to as ‘Thatcherism’. Associated with the political leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who was Britain’s Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990, this project is frequently described as a transformative ideological movement that re-shaped British politics from the late-1970s. In this module, students will bring this notion under scrutiny by locating Thatcher’s ideas and beliefs within a broader historiographical context. 

Henry VIII: Monarchy, Power and Religion in England, 1509-1547

Henry VIII’s reign was one of the most transformative in English history. It oversaw a break with the papacy that fundamentally altered the religious and political make-up of the realm. It saw royal authority become increasingly absolute under a king who was now also the head of the church. It witnessed numerous courtiers rise and fall as families vied for the attention of the king – and often his hand in marriage. All this left England a fundamentally different place in 1547 than it had been in 1509. This module aims to expand on and challenge this knowledge to bring to life a clearer picture of how monarchy, power and religion operated in sixteenth-century England.

Philosophies of the Revolution: Anti-Imperialism and British Decolonization in the Twentieth Century

This module aims to provide an overview of some of the ideas which emerged in the periphery of the British empire during the 20th century and their influence on decolonization in India, the West Indies, Malaya, the Arab world and Ghana.

Five texts will be examined particularly closely:

  • Gandhi's overview of his life and opinions (The Story of My Experiments with Truth)
  • Eric Williams' memoir of his life and education in Trinidad (Inward Hunger)
  • Chin Peng's account of his war against the British in Malaya (Alias Chin Peng)
  • Nasser's treatise on revolutionary politics in the Arab world (The Philosophy of the Revolution)
  • Nkrumah's analysis of his role in the anti-colonial struggle in Ghana (The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah)
Artistic Licence: Social Satire and Political Caricature in Britain, c1780-c1850

Between c.1780 and c.1850, social and political satire adopted new, innovative and slanderous forms of output in Great Britain. This saw the leading practitioners – William Hogarth, James Gillray, William Hone, George Cruikshank and John Doyle – became major ‘celebrities’ in their own right.

We explore the definition, nature and use of social satire and political caricature in this period. Emphasis is on ‘reading’ and ‘de-coding’ them as historical artefacts.

You will consider case studies in their historical context. Specific examples include:

  • The wars with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France (1793-1815)
  • The Queen Caroline Affair (1820)
  • The ‘Constitutional Revolution’ (1828-32)

Throughout this module, the focus is on assessing the historical context which gave rise to satirical material, evaluating the contribution it made in the period. We also question how justified it is to describe this as ‘the golden age of caricature’.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2022*
Keep checking back for more information

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

Essential course materials are supplied.


You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (e.g. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements e.g. work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Optional field trips

Field trips allow you to engage with source materials on a personal level and to develop different perspectives. They are optional and costs to you vary according to the trip; some require you to arrange your own travel, refreshments and entry fees, while some are some are wholly subsidised.

Scholarships and bursaries

Faculty of Arts Alumni Scholarships

Our Alumni Scholarships provide support with essential living costs to eligible students. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


As an English and History graduate, you will have gained the following key transferable skills:

  • problem-solving and analysis
  • planning and researching written work
  • gaining evidence and communicating findings
  • objective thinking
  • communication, both oral and written
  • presenting ideas and information, including collaboratively
  • writing for different audiences

Read our School of English and Department of History student and alumni profiles. Find out more about the range of skills you will gain, as well as the careers which our graduates go into.

You can also learn more about subject-related careers opportunities from our Careers and Employability Service.

Average starting salary and career progression

82.2% of undergraduates from the School of English secured employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,740.*

*Data from UoN graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary.

73.9% of undergraduates from the Department of History secured employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £24,410.*

*Data from UoN graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" The main skills I've gained are debate and discussion. It urges you to step outside your comfort zone a bit more. Also research skills. I think my research ability has doubled! You have to go into depth when researching and creating your essays, and that’s definitely a skill that can help me going forward. "
Devraj Jheet, English and History BA

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.