Our Politics and History programme gives you the opportunity to study current challenges in national and international politics while gaining an understanding of the wider historical context of our modern world.
The course brings together the two naturally close disciplines of Politics and History through a focus on political history. Studying history and politics in tandem will develop your ability to understand how people lived and thought in the past, and the ways in which they act politically in the present.
You’ll study with a top history department – we’re ranked first in the country for the social and cultural impact of our research - and be taught by political historians working at the cutting edge of their research disciplines.
Alongside core politics modules in your first year introducing you to contemporary British politics and international relations theory, you’ll study history modules that will give you an insight into the making of the modern world, such as campaigns for freedom and equality and America from Hamilton to Trump.
Modules devised for this joint degree such as Political History: Milestones, Change and Continuity provide a bridge between history and politics. In your second year you’ll continue this interdisciplinary approach with a module on Nation and Identity, which examines the growth of new states and the political landscape of interwar Europe.
Just as an historical approach brings breadth and depth to your study of politics, the theories of political science you’ll study in our core politics modules will give you the analytical tools to explore the implications of major historical events, alongside their socio, economic and political impacts.
In your final year, you demonstrate your research skills by producing a dissertation on a topic of your choosing. Previous students have been inspired by their year of study abroad, while others have worked on women code breakers at Bletchley Park, the Notting Hill riots, and vice and sexuality in 17th -century London. You’ll also have the option to follow an oral history project, or study modules ranging from the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, to terrorism and security, to the politics of gender.
A flexible programme of study across two complementary disciplines that allows you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
Exceptional teaching by academics conducting world-leading research
Innovative courses that enable you to understand the rewarding connection between these two disciplines
Transferable skills built through [work placements, internships and] extra-curricular activities
The chance to study for a year at one of our many partner institutions across the world
Our history and politics students benefit from being part of a diverse and active academic community. Our interactive seminars and workshops help you find your feet in the academic environment, and establish ways of working confidently, creatively and collaboratively. We see our students as fellow researchers, and we place a great deal of importance on sharing and developing skills.
You will have the opportunity to get involved in activities that will complement your studies. Not only do these enhance your experience, they also make for a more impressive CV. We offer extra-curricular modules in debating and model United Nations, while our renowned staff-student Oral History team has taken students to Australia and produced a BBC Radio 4 documentary, which was commended at the 2018 Royal Historical Society Public History Awards.
Taking a year’s study abroad at one of our many partner universities is an excellent opportunity to broaden your understanding of the world. Living in another country opens up fresh perspectives and helps create global citizens. For our history and politics students, immersing yourself in a host country enhances your learning, giving you a greater appreciation of other cultures and societies, and a deeper understanding of their everyday lives.
Belief and Disbelief: Faith, Magic and Medicine, 1500 - 1800 - 15 Credits
Many of the debates that define the making of our modern era were concerned with the relationships between religion, science, magic, and medicine. This module begins by exploring the early modern ideas and practices that shaped people’s understanding of the natural and supernatural world in Protestant England and Catholic Europe, and also how these influenced European colonial views of the religions and rituals of other cultures. The module will question how events like the witch trials affected peoples' medical, magical, and theological ‘world view’, and challenge students to consider the extent to which the Reformation and Enlightenment transformed health, faith, and beliefs in everyday life.
Introduction to Politics - 30 Credits
This module provides an introduction to many political concepts that are central to thinking about political life. Through the study of these concepts and ideas, students will be introduced to the principal ideas in Western Politics, such as: Power, War, Sovereignty, Democracy, Ethics and Morality. In addition the lectures, tutorials, and workshops will familiarise students with a variety of different debates about how best to understand any given concept, as well as familiarising students with understanding the relationship between concepts.
International Relations Theory - 30 Credits
This module provide you with an introduction and understanding of the basic concepts and approaches to the study of International Relations. The module aims to establish a firm basis to go on to study international relations in years 2 and 3. The course will introduce and examine a number of different theoretical perspectives and offer examples from both history and from current affairs to demonstrate the extent to which theories can be used to make sense of the issues. The course will cover many of the historical development of the international system including the UN, Cold War, and International Society. Further attention will be paid to key theories of international politics, such as Globalisation, Constructivism, Realism, Liberalism, Idealism, Nationalism, Green Politics, and apply these to contemporary international relations. This two fold approach will encourage students to identify important continuities and changes in international relations across the period starting in 1900 to present day.
The Fight for Rights: Freedom and Oppression, 1790s-1990s - 15 Credits
This module takes you through 200 years of national and global conflicts over people’s rights, and the complex history of the recognition of human rights. Taking a ‘history from below’ approach, this module will give you critical thinking skills in understanding how global change affects individuals and different communities, and how different social movements fought for rights, including women, sexuality, race and disability. You will investigate the impact of revolutions and new ideas in inspiring different groups across the world to challenge and defend their social, political and economic rights.
Historians' Toolkit - 15 Credits
This module provides you with the 'toolkit' of the historical profession. It supports the transition from secondary education, and those returning to education, by teaching you the history skills needed at university, in a hands-on and relevant way. You will learn about the historical development of the discipline, explore the ways historians interpret a wide range of sources, and develop your essay writing skills.
Africa and the World, 1450-1850 - 15 Credits
The history of Africa is rich and varied but has all too often been viewed through European lenses of prejudice and self-interest; such perspectives shaped by the experiences of Africa’s slave trades and of colonisation. This module explores the history of Africa and its peoples from early settlement to the mid-nineteenth century, and, taking an African perspective, how Africa and Africans encountered and engaged with the people, culture and religions of the wider world. The module will explore how contact with the nations and peoples of Europe, Asia and America forged new political institutions and global trade networks, changed religious practices and social conventions, and drew Africans – willingly and unwillingly – into a global diaspora.
International trade has a significant impact on the way we live. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the gadgets we use and the services we rely on are often created in distant places and delivered to us through complex trading networks. This module will introduce you to the long history of global trade and consumption. We will consider how the desire for foreign commodities helped transform economies, polities and cultures around the world. We will explore the lives of the traders who supplied the goods and seek to understand the desires of the consumers who demanded foreign luxuries. We will also see the impact that consumption in one country has on lives in other places acknowledging the Africans who, as enslaved people, were turned into commodities, the farmers forced into the production of cash crops, and the workers expected to toil in sweatshops to produce cheap goods for multinational corporations.
Introduction to Strategy - 30 Credits
This module will introduce you to the main themes pertaining to understanding the physical manifestation of conflict and the threat of force. The nature and role of actors involved in the use of force will be explored with reference to key concepts in the study of international and domestic conflict. The module will use knowledge and skills appropriate to level 4, and will contribute to the development of subject-specific knowledge as well as transferable skills pertaining to the identification of key academic debates, and the production and sustaining of arguments. The module will lay the foundations to prepare students for more in-depth study of the use of force, its underlying causes, and responses in years 2 and 3.
Contemporary British Politics - 30 Credits
This module provides an introduction to political systems using the lens of British politics. The main theme will be the changes in how British politics and political authority has changed and developed over the last 30 years. This political change will encompass Thatcher to Blair to Cameron and examine the political strategies in taking power, and the importance of party politics and leadership. The module will also look at the wider political context of the media in politics, political participation, and the role of the civil service. The module will also further reflect on the current events of the day, using the dominate methods of inquiry including, public choice, social movements, democracy, and political behaviour.
Introduction to Public History - 15 Credits
From food packaging, to video game characters, to national celebrations and commiserations: history is everywhere. The past is the source of inspiration for societies around the world. Writers use it as the setting for their stories; governments use it to justify their policies; businesses use it to sell their products or services. This module explores how societies use history, and provides students with an understanding of the ways historians can take their skills out into the world, with an emphasis on employability skills. We will use a wide array of examples from around the world and from different contexts to build our understanding of where, when, why, and how the past is applied, as well as the opportunities and challenges that result.
The Heritage Industry in Britain - 15 Credits
This module explores the historical origins of the modern heritage industry and offers a general introduction to its principles and practices. You will investigate the way in which key people, places and events in English history have been preserved, interpreted and presented to the public since the twentieth century. The work of leading heritage bodies in Britain, such as Historic England and the National Trust, will be set in an international context and you will also be introduced to theoretical critiques that have arisen in response to the development of the heritage industry. Topics may include natural heritage, local heritage, icons in English heritage, dark tourism and difficult heritage, and industrial heritage.
Leisure and Lifestyle: 20th Century American Music, Sport and Entertainment - 15 Credits
The influence of the American lifestyle extends far beyond the country’s borders, and this module encourages you to reflect on the historical roots of often-familiar elements of American culture. By focussing on selected moments in twentieth century American music, sport and entertainment, we will consider the historical processes that shaped the continent’s social and cultural history. Building on this, we will also examine how and why the country’s cultural identity has been internationally transmitted and how it has been received. Each week you will learn to connect a specific individual, event or movement to broader historical issues through the use of video, texts, images, and song.
Graduate Skills - 0 Credits
You will be offered a variety of employment enhancing workshops and online activities such as interview skills workshops, personality profiling and career planning in order to improve your employment prospects after graduation and make you aware of current areas of strength and weakness in relation to employability.
You will also have the opportunity to learn about self-employment options, graduate schemes and will attend speaker sessions with successful professionals in areas of employment appropriate for Humanities graduates so you can learn about the skills and attributes required for these areas and how to enhance your prospects of entering such areas.
You will be required to undertake a certain number of activities chosen by you from a career “menu” and to reflect on what they have learnt in order to complete the module successfully.
Comparative Political Systems - 30 Credits
This module introduces you to comparative politics, and refines research skills in the empirical study of the key concepts, processes and institutions of political. The comparative method, will allow systems to compared and contrasted, to test hypotheses regarding the factors producing similarities and differences across different political systems. The module identifies that most important comparative methods, and then moves into the ways and methods in which political systems can be organised and categorised. The module encourages you to focus on the skill of using both qualitative and quantitative data to support your arguments.
Modern Political Philosophy - 30 Credits
This module builds on the level 4 core module ‘Introduction to Politics’ which introduces students to important political concepts such as the state, freedom and justice. ‘Modern Political Philosophy’ will open up a more advanced, critical insight to how the ideas and arguments which lie at the heart of current political debates are developed in the works of central modern and contemporary political thinkers. When is state action legitimate? What is more important – the political protection of individual rights or the well-being of a society as a whole? And how does our knowledge of the world support structures of power, hierarchies and exclusions within and beyond political institutions? The module will explore how different schools of modern political thought, such as liberalism and republicanism, have developed in their historical context and invites you to critically analyse how they can be challenged through post-foundationalist approaches.
Security and Governance - 30 Credits
This module will provide you with an in-depth exploration of the causes and contributing factors of international and domestic conflict. The main themes will touch upon issues of national and international governance of dissent and disputes, before going on to look at conflict resolution at the local and international levels. The module will use knowledge and skills developed in year 1 and apply those theoretical narratives to new ideas and issues, at the micro, meso and meta levels of analysis. This module specifically prepares you for more in-depth study of peace-building and the governance of post-war societies in year 3 by focusing the discussion of conflict around issues of failures of governance.
We, the People: Democratic Theory and Practice - 15 Credits
The module is designed to equip students with solid and advanced understanding of key issues and challenges concerning the theory and practice of democratic politics. Democracy is the most spread type of political system and political organisation, but its forms, understanding and applications remain profoundly diverse and contested. Students will be invited to critically reflect on the changing nature and dynamics pertaining to democratic theory and practice; they will be exposed to a variety of concepts, approaches and methods shaping contemporary democratic theorising and will be encouraged to apply them to the analysis of current affairs and institutions in domestic and international contexts. Core questions around ideas of citizenship, inclusion, participation, contestation, equality, empowerment and action will be analysed with reference to theoretical debates and applied case-studies. The module will also interrogate claims around the status of crisis that democracy is witnessing worldwide and will examine initiatives and propositions around prospects for a democratic renewal.
The State in the 21st Century - 15 Credits
In 1996, Susan Strange published The Retreat of the State in which she argued that the central role of the state in both domestic and international politics was diminishing. However, in recent years political developments across the globe, including the policies of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, BREXIT, and the 2008 Financial Crisis, have shifted focus back onto the state as the primary arena for the conduct of politics. Through a combination of theoretical discussions and applied case studies, this module will explore how and why the state is returning as well as what its return means for the broader narrative of domestic and international politics.
Political History: Milestones, Change and Continuity - 15 Credits
How have historical events shaped contemporary global politics? This is the central question addressed by this module. Through a series of historical case studies (such as the Battle of Algiers, the Suez Crisis, and the Space Race) and the broader political concepts they represent (such as decolonisation, arms racing, changing power structures), this module will explore the extent to which the current international political system is rooted in the historical developments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Additionally, you will identify, and reflect on, some of the key political milestones, continuities, and changes that occurred in global politics during this period.
Hearth & Heart: Family Life in the Long Eighteenth-Century - 15 Credits
This module examines the history of the family in Britain and Ireland over the long eighteenth-century. It will introduce you to the methodological approaches and historiographical debates in the history of the family, and will cover a wide variety of topics, from family size and structure, to representations of ideal families in literature and art, family relationships, deviant sexuality, and the regulation of the family by church and state. Questions it will consider include: What was family life like in this period? Did parents really love their children? How widespread was pre-marital sexual intercourse? And, in what ways did the family change over time? Close attention will be paid to the role that gender and social class played in shaping family life over the period. The module will make use of a rich array of source materials including, letters and diaries, church court minutes, art and census material.
Propaganda in Twentieth-Century War and Politics - 15 Credits
This broad survey module will encourage you to connect the development of mass communications with domestic and international politics in the twentieth century. Time will be spent on defining public opinion, censorship and propaganda; on examining propaganda channels and techniques; and, on analysing and measuring propaganda effects. Emphasis will be placed on Britain’s pioneering role in the new world communications network via its empire, and on the importance attached to the First World War in changing the face of propaganda. A variety of sources, including film, will be used to assess the increasing sophistication of political persuasion thereafter. Particular attention will be paid to Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and the international conflicts in Vietnam in the 1960s and the Middle East in the 1990s. Seminars will involve group work centred on core interpretative texts.
Nation & Identity: Newly Independent States in Interwar Europe, 1918-1939 - 15 Credits
This module explores a fascinating period in European history when empires crumbled and new nation-states emerged. The process of state building is investigated in detail. Through an analysis of the settlements that gave birth to the new states, the module seeks to establish the extent to which they influenced and, in some cases, hindered the states’ development. The various political, economic, social, religious and cultural forces that shaped the states will also be examined and evaluated. Close attention will be paid to the various efforts to create national identity through a range of diverse range of forums, including membership of international bodies, major sporting occasions, state-sponsored art and religious events. Building on these themes, the module will subsequently address why some states survived and others collapsed with the outbreak of a second world war.
Making a Historical Documentary - 15 Credits
Historical documentaries are one of the key ways that the public learn about the past. The most successful documentaries take complex issues and communicate them in a straightforward and engaging manner. This practical module will guide you through the various stages of television documentary-making, from generating an idea to actually producing your own short twelve-minute documentary.
Archive research, scripting, filming and interviewing, and editing are among the basic techniques that will be covered. You will also develop the ability to critically assess documentaries, learning to detect strengths and weaknesses. Over the course of the semester, you will gain and expand a range of practical transferable skills.
Making Histories: Pubic History Work Experience - 15 Credits
This module is designed to give you a deep exposure to history and heritage in the workplace and in the world-at-large. Are you interested in getting recognition for volunteer work in a museum or archive? Have you thought of participating in a historical memory project in your local community? Do you have plans to work with history after you graduate? Working closely with the module tutor, you will tailor a heritage-related placement to your specific interests and aspirations.
This module helps you develop your knowledge of history beyond a university context. It aims to provide a stimulating programme of activities so that you gain hands-on, practical experience and a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the work done by heritage organisations. The module is also geared towards enhancing your employability skills in a supportive environment, which includes contributions from heritage professionals.
USA 1861 to 1969: From Civil War to Civil Rights - 15 Credits
The module surveys American history from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the social, political, and economic crises, which engulfed the United States during the 1960s. It pays attention to major issues of American development, for example: the emancipation of enslaved people, and the process of Reconstruction; the rise of Jim Crow and Segregation in the South; relations between Indigenous peoples and the American state; Immigration and Industrialisation; Populism and Progressivism; the expansion of political democracy; America's rise to the status of a World Power; the depression of the 1930s; McCarthyism; and the Civil Rights Era. Students will be encouraged to engage with two important issues: 1. How America transformed from a country made up of a collection of loose states to become a global superpower. 2. How the two principles 'All men are created equal' and racial segregation co-existed side by side.
Postcards from the Empire: Experiences of British Imperialism - 15 Credits
At the empire's height, Queen Victoria claimed sovereignty over nearly one in four of the planet’s human inhabitants. The lives and experiences of each were sculpted by international, national, and local dynamics. This module explores the stories of these everyday lives through snapshots of life in the British Empire up to 1914. Case studies may draw from places including Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Africa, India, Ireland, Canada, America, and the Caribbean. Themes may include race, gender, class, religion, economics, and adventure. A particular emphasis will be placed on exploring the histories of racialized and colonized peoples, with attention to the historical approaches developed over the past several decades that have changed the ability of historians to identify and engage with these voices.
Maladies and Medicine in Early Modern Europe - 15 Credits
This module explores the nature of medical knowledge and treatment between c. 1550- 1750. We will look at a range of illnesses including mental illness and disability and disfigurement. The course will investigate the treatments offered to patients and who they were treated by. A series of lectures will form the spine of the module introducing the key themes and historiographical debates in this field. The seminars will then consider specific examples and particular historiographical issues in greater depth. The module will move through three main areas; medical knowledge and learning, disease and death, and medical provision in the period.
Crime and Society in England, 1550-1750 - 15 Credits
One way of understanding early-modern English society is to examine the nature of criminal activity, and the perception and response to crime in the period. In this module you will be introduced to a wide variety of criminal activities and behaviours, ranging from the pattern and nature of ‘petty’ crimes, such as poaching and defamation, to more ‘serious’ crimes, such as murder and treason. You will be encouraged to reflect on the motives for crime and what such activities can tell us about early modern society. Considerable emphasis will be place on understanding the system of justice and the nature of law enforcement in the period. To this end, you will identify, consult and undertake qualitative and quantitative analyses of online historical datasets and databases, such as The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, and will be encouraged to reflect on the ethical implications of using such resources for historical research.
The Age of the Cold War, 1945-1991 - 15 Credits
This broad survey module will examine the origins, nature and end of the Cold War in a global context between 1945 and 1991. The first section of the module assesses the nature of the Cold War in comparative historical context, before investigating the origins of the Cold War, the nature of superpower conflict, and the global expansion of the Cold War. The module then adopts a thematic approach, concentrating on the ideological, diplomatic, economic, political, military and cultural dimensions of the Cold War of the 1950s through to the 1980s. The module will consider the conflict between the superpowers, but also the effect of the Cold War on the periphery and unaligned nations. The final section of the module deals with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies in Europe following Gorbachev’s rise to power in 1985, and the diplomacy and events that brought the Cold War to an end.
Doing History: Investigating the Historians' Craft - 15 Credits
This module aims to equip students with the skills required to understand and undertake scholarly historical enquiry and to feed effectively into their Level 6 dissertations and/or extended essays. The workshop format provides time and space to do hands-on activities. It also gives the chance to foster compassionate and collaborative group work with the intention of supporting individual students in developing their historical skills and confidence. Particular attention will be paid to ensuring students develop confidence with the digital tools required for independent historical enquiry, and that they receive guidance and support in the consideration of the ethics of their historical research and engagement with inclusivity and diversity.
*Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s
Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.
IB – 72 points from a minimum of 2 HL subjects at H4 or above.
GCSE Maths grade 4 (D) and English Language grade 4 (C) or above.
The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.