27th February 2014
History graduates leave university with a broad range of transferable skills, many of which are highly sought after by employers. Students will develop the ability to: generate and research ideas, organise material in a logical manner, and express ideas in written and oral form.
When discussing options with a student who is interested in studying history, here are some good questions to ask them:
Do you have a get-up-and-go thirst for knowledge?
Whereas in school historical facts are often bottle-fed to students, with only 6-10 hours of directed study per week on most history courses, the onus is on independent study and research.
In addition, on most courses students will study a wide range of periods, so they need to have a genuine interest in history, and not only enjoy learning about one or two favourite historical episodes.
What history do you want to study?
For each course a student is considering applying to, it’s important to visit the course pages to find out exactly what they will be studying.
Degrees can focus on particular continents (eg European history), themes (eg film and visual culture and history) and broader periods (eg Medieval history).
Conversely, although right now your students may have particular preferences for historical periods, university is an excellent time for them to examine new things and thus broaden their minds. Many graduates remark that their course has led them to fall in love with a period or approach to studying history that was previously unknown to them.
Are you interested in a year abroad?
Many history degrees offer students opportunities to travel abroad as part of the course, thus allowing them to experience diverse cultures and gain access to primary sources when carrying out their scholarship. Some courses give or allow students to compete for generous travel bursaries. Students should research the availability of these opportunities via each course’s website.
Are you a purist? Or could a joint-honours course be your best option?
History is a good companion to many other disciplines. History with a language is a particularly popular joint-honours degree, as is history with politics or other social sciences. A further point to note is that joint-honours degrees often have lower entry requirements than single-honours courses, although they are normally equally well thought of by employers.
Do you have the correct entry requirements?
Very often history degrees include additional entry requirements beyond raw grades. Common ones include English at a particular grade (or better) at GCSE, History at A-Level. It’s important students do the research and know what’s required of them.
So you want to apply for a particular university. Have you spoken to any of its alumni?
Generally prospective undergraduates find speaking to existing undergraduates or alumni very useful. This way they can get the inside track on what doing the degree is really like. If you contact the schools’ liaison officers at any university, they will most likely be happy to put you in touch with students at the university who will to talk to students at your school.
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