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BA (Hons) History and Philosophy

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.

Ranked 18th in UK for History
Ranked 18th in UK for History
Host of the annual Sir Francis Bacon lectures
Host of the annual Sir Francis Bacon lectures
Our Philosophy team is in the top 25 in the UK
Our Philosophy team is in the top 25 in the UK

This course includes the sandwich year options of:

Work Placement*

Study abroad*

*No fees are charged for this year

Why choose this course?

We give you:

  • An exceptional History team, conducting world-leading research (REF 2014), and a Philosophy team ranked in the 100 best Philosophy departments worldwide (2017 QS rankings). 
  • Stimulating, innovative courses - History students reported almost 94% overall satisfaction with their course (2018 National Student Survey)
  • A flexible programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting and the scope to write a dissertation on a topic about which you are passionate
  • The opportunity to expand your horizons by studying abroad at the end of your second year
  • CV-building potential through work placements and extra-curricular activities

What's the course about?

Our BA History and Philosophy gives you the opportunity to study two subjects that will help you to make sense of the world around you.

Through our diverse and inclusive History curriculum you will learn about an array of cultures and identities.  What links our work is our focus on people’s history and everyday lives. This is represented strongly in our first year programme, which will give you an insight into the making of the modern world through exploration of beliefs, magic and medicine, campaigns for freedom and equality, Africa and the world, and America from Hamilton to Trump.

In your philosophy modules, you will be introduced to a variety of philosophical issues ranging from the nature of reality, knowledge and mind, to questions about how we should live, what we should value, and what would be the best way of organizing society.

Throughout your degree, the common link between the two disciplines will be the development of analytical skills. As historians you will learn to analyse historical documents and debates among historians, while in Philosophy you’ll assess the arguments of others, arriving at your own conclusions on deep, important issues. 

These analytical skills, honed over the course of your studies, will benefit you in the final year, if you choose to write a dissertation. This extended piece of work, available either in History or in Philosophy, will grow out of a topic that interests you. Previous students have been inspired by their year of study abroad. Others have worked on the history of jiu jitsu, women code breakers at Bletchley Park, the Notting Hill riots, and vice and sexuality in 17th-century London.  And Philosophy students have worked on the ethical issues of playing video games, the nature of the imagination, and environmental philosophy and the obligations of the state.

What will I study?

Our 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.

As one of our students, 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. 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. There is also an active student Philosophy Society.

Student Blogs

Jasmine - Week at a glance

My week at a glance

History lessons are taught between a mixture of lectures and seminars for the first two years (Level four and five). A typical week would consist of one-hour lectures per module followed by a seminar, which could either be immediately after or on a different day. The seminars consist of smaller groups of people where you discuss both the lecture’s information and the assigned reading. These can be debates, presentations, or simple discussions. So, despite only having contact time for four hours per week, there are independent reading and assignments which need to be completed.

I start my week by completing the required reading, making notes of anything I do not understand so that I can ask my lecturer. After completing the weekly reading, I will work on the assignments. Even though they are mostly due at the end of the semester it is a good idea to work on them throughout, so you do not leave them until last minute.

I participated in active students, which is free for all Hertfordshire students. Here I would attend yoga classes, but there is a wide range of fitness and wellbeing events that take place. I also enjoyed badminton, as you could either go alone or with a group of friends. It is also a good idea to join society as it not only boosts your CV, but it is a way to meet likeminded people and develop friendships.

I also had a part-time job which I would do alongside studying. This means that planning is vital as you want to be on top of your workload to ensure you have enough time to complete it to the best of your ability. It worked well with the history course as most of the work was independent, meaning I could work around my other commitments.

It is important that you allow downtime alongside work as it recharges you and you can produce better quality work. It also prevents you from being overworked and ensures that you enjoy the course.

Student Blogs

Jasmine - Things you should know

Things you need to know before studying History at Herts

Preparation is key! Once you know what modules you are taking it is useful to do some research prior so that you can enter the module with basic knowledge. This makes studying it that much easier and you are less likely to be left behind. It prevents your workload from building up and be unbearable. History is a very independent course and will consist of quite a bit of reading, so you need to organise your time efficiently. Leave enough time to work on your assignments from the start so that if you have any issues you can get them sorted in time.

Complete the required reading as that way you will be able to contribute to the seminar discussions. Furthermore, if you stumble across words you are not familiar with or useful words it’s a good idea to make a keyword list and ask your lecturer if you are unsure of a specific concept. When completing the reading highlight important themes and produce short notes. Put them in your own words and as simple as possible, as it makes them easier to understand in the future. It is usually best to find a spot away from distractions and turn your phone off. Moreover, take regular short breaks, to allow what you have read to sink in.

Do not be afraid to talk to the lecturers, they are lovely and always willing to answer questions, especially on assignments. I found that discussing my drafts with lecturers before completing them allowed me to get high grades as they were able to point me in the right direction. They are there for you, so make sure you use them as much as possible.

Most importantly make sure you are having fun and enjoy yourself. Allow downtime so that you can recover and have the right amount of work/life balance.

Student Blogs

Jasmine - Why I love History

What I love most about my course

I loved that with history you could do as much or little as you wanted. Alongside completing the required tasks, lecturers indicated further reading sources if you wanted to. That meant to if there was a part of the subject that interested you, it was possible for you to explore it further. Moreover, most of my lecturers would ask at the start of the semester what we wanted to get from the course. This meant if there were specific areas that we were most fascinated with or wanted to learn, they aimed to include that into the module.

I also loved that there is a range of topics that are covered, and the ability to choose which ones you wanted. I minored in public history which meant that instead of the typical essay assignments I created a documentary for one module. Another module was work experience, so I got to volunteer. We also went on trips to the archives and Bayfordbury campus which offered alternative styles of learning and experiencing history outside the classroom. This was exciting as I got to try new things, which I would not have thought to do.

The humanities department was extremely inclusive. They have an Instagram and post regular events like rollerblading and film nights which allowed you to socialise with your lecturers and peers. The staff were all friendly and welcoming and always happy to help with any issues. I felt that they truly wanted me to succeed, and they had my back. The events helped to create a work/live balance.

Due to the independent nature of studying history, I was able to adapt to studying around my lifestyle. Because the contact time was only eight hours per week, I was able to work alongside studying. I was also able to study on the train journey or at home when I returned to visit family, meaning that I was not left behind on my workload.

Student Blogs

Mercedes - Unibuddy

Alumni Stories

Jenny Vu

Meet Jenny Vu who gained valuable transferable skills for her future career. She is currently a Teaching Assistant at a secondary school.

Current job roleTeaching Assistant
Year of graduation2018
Course of studyBA(Hons) History and Philosophy with Study Abroad Year

Jenny Vu

University life and experience

Throughout her degree, Jenny learnt a considerable amount of transferable skills and world knowledge to enable to her succeed in her career as a Teaching Assistant. She says that the most useful skills she learnt are how to analyse and correct grammar which have proved invaluable when teaching her students.

Jenny initially chose the University of Hertfordshire as it ‘was close to home but still relatively far enough to move out and learn to live independently.’ She explains how her independence grew as she used her degree to explore the World by taking the opportunity to study abroad for a year. She says, ‘My standout memory from my time at the University was studying abroad for a year. It was probably the best year of my life.’

Future aspirations

Jenny’s study abroad year sparked her passion for travel and in the future,  she plans to teach in Asia. However, she says, if she does return to the UK, she would like to teach and promote higher education to young students to inspire future generations and showcase their potential.

My standout memory from my time at the University was studying abroad for a year. It was probably the best year of my life.

Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.