History Degree 101 – OurWarwick

History Degree 101

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
History, Warwick Student Cinema, Sport, Accommodation, and Wellbeing!
Find out more about me Contact Samantha

“Simply put, the transferable skills that a history degree helps to develop and demonstrate are invaluable.”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked what I plan to do with a history degree.

“Oh, so you’re going to teach?”

“Does that mean you’re going to work in a museum?”

It’s frustrating how much people who don’t study history disregard its value, both in life and employment. It was this frustration that inspired this blog post. But rather than dwell on employability, I thought I would take to the internet and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about studying a history degree. I will, of course be answering these based on my own experience at Warwick, and I hope that my answers can be of some use.

What’s a history degree like?

I guess the easiest way to answer this question is give an overview of my experience at Warwick so far!

Starting with an average week in the life of a first year, at Warwick I would have ten contact hours a week, made up of a combination of lectures and seminars. You can study two optional modules in your first year, and all first year modules are 30 CATS, meaning they last the full academic year.

As you progress through your history degree you’ll find that the modules become more specialised, allowing you to really study subjects in close detail. Or you can do what I have done, and mix and match modules based on my interests at the time! It’s really up to you and I have found Warwick to be the perfect place to explore history, both geographically and by era.

You will also notice the number of contact hours reduce as you progress and, as I go into my final year, my course is now solely seminar based, with at least three two-hour seminars a week.

As I’ve alluded to already, the minimal contact hours are a defining feature of history, and many other humanities subjects. You are expected to do a lot of independent work, be that reading for seminars, researching for and writing essays, or revising for exams. You are very much left to your own devices, and this has been one of the main factors that has encouraged me to develop as a person during my time at Warwick.

How hard is a history degree?

Like the subject, this is a very subjective question and is difficult to answer definitively. I have found that, in comparison to my friends studying STEM subjects, it has been a massive challenge to push myself from a 2.1 to a first due to the nature of my degree – there really is no right or wrong answer and the missing marks come down the subtleties of essay writing.

Sometimes, the amount of independent work can prove challenging, too, especially if you’re lacking motivation. It really tests your discipline and time management.

Overall, though, I would suggest that if history comes naturally to you at A-Level then you should be fine at university. Believe me, the jump from the GCSE to A-Level is a whole lot worse than that between A-Level and university.

How is a history degree useful?

Simply put, the transferable skills that a history degree helps to develop and demonstrate are invaluable. Here’s just a brief list of what you can gain from studying history:

  1. Critical reasoning, analysis, problem-solving, and creativity.
  2. Independence, time-management, and the ability to work without direct supervision.
  3. The ability to conduct detailed research.
  4. The ability to construct and clearly present arguments, both written and orally.
  5. The ability to approach new problems and situations with an open mind.
  6. Empathy and an appreciation of different factors that can influence activities of groups and individuals in society.

Where can a history degree lead you?

History’s lack of vocation can be a blessing and a curse. The skills gained as a history student pave the way to a plethora of careers, but often times there are simply too many to choose from. To give you an idea of what a history degree could do for you, here’s a list of the most recent jobs and employers of history students graduating from the University of Warwick:

Jobs: author, broadcast assistant, civil servant, digital marketing executive, NGO programme coordinator, teacher.

Employers: BBC, Barclays, Deloitte, EY, House of Commons, Macmillan Cancer Support, Ministry of Justice, Ofcom, Surrey County Council.

There are also a number of options for further study and conversion courses, including accountancy, journalism, law, librarianship, museum studies, and teaching.

I hope that this has given you some insight into what a history degree is like and what you can do with it after you graduate.

If were pressed to give one piece of advice to someone choosing a subject for university, it would be to pick something that you enjoy! You’ll be studying it for at least three years, after all.

For more information on this topic, see the links below.

Warwick, Department of History: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/prospective/undergraduate/employability/

Prospects: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/history

Until next time,


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
History, Warwick Student Cinema, Sport, Accommodation, and Wellbeing!
Find out more about me Contact Samantha
  • ss.hogwarts6

    Thanks, this is super useful! I’m planning to do history (obviously 😅) and I think what I’m most worried about regarding the actual course, is the essays and independent studying, if they’re extremely difficult etc…. I’ve always liked history and I like the essay writing, but how many essays do you do? And what are the modules like? The website said you can work towards a Modern or Renaissance and Modern degree, but can you explain more about that?


    • Samantha Ellam History

      Hi there! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. The number of essays generally depends on the modules you choose. For example, year-long modules (30 CAT) I believe have three essays or two essays and an exam. For modules that only last a term (15 CAT) you’ll only have two but in a shorter time frame. Assessments are generally flexible in terms of what form they take (you can choose the modules that have exams or not, depending on what you prefer) and the topic – tutors are always on hand to advise. Often original lines investigation are encouraged if you want to explore something. In terms of independent study, history students don’t have more than I believe 10 contact hours a week, the rest of the time is available to work towards seminars, essays, and revision. It relies a lot on time management, but it’s definitely something that I found easy to adjust to. In term of the modern or renaissance streams, the main difference is that on the renaissance stream you’ll spend a term in your final year in Venice and learn Italian throughout your degree. I take the modern stream so unfortunately, my knowledge is limited, but I think it’s a good way to study abroad for a bit, without committing to an entire year! I hope this helps, please do let me know if you have any further questions!😁


  • Kawaii Bunni

    Originally I was so worried about the skills and course content after reading the masses of information online, but I think you simplify it really well. So thanks so much!


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