My experience of studying History at Warwick
Your subject is the corner store of your experience at university. Many aspects of university are entirely optional and can add to your experience, but your subject and people on your course are the core of your entire time at university. Thankfully, I have found both the staff and students to be extremely welcoming and lovely, particularly when I have had difficult periods, and the help the history department has given me. The degree itself has taught me a lot, especially in terms of how I best work and the methods I use to achieve success, but also how to use others and the way they learn to improve myself as an academic and an individual. Everything mentioned in this article is entirely from my own experience, and therefore, some of the modules I may mention could potentially not be available whilst you are taking your degree.
It is a stereotype that the history degrees, on the whole, are very dull, and whilst there can be more dull topics, I have found that the vast majority of modules tackle really engaging and intriguing topics. This is definitely helped by the way the staff approach topics, as it never feels as if there is one method of learning. You are constantly being asked to change your approach and the angle to which you are analysing information, which although can be daunting at first, means you become very flexible academically as soon as the end of term 1. For example, one week you will be look at top-down history, analysing the acts of Monarchs or Presidents, whereas the next you will be looking at bottom-up history and analysing the role of the peasantry on the economy, to the next week using primary sources to explain the rise of radicalism in the British Civil War. Overall, I think the content you tackle is really interesting but also brilliant in giving you a genuine skill set to tackle academic and real-life problems.
These options are ones which you are mandatory to take. Yes, they are duller than your optional modules, however, they are far more beneficial in being able to learn to think, write and analysis as an academic. For me, core modules were a chance to really try to understand what studying history was about, why is it relevant and what can I learn from studying history about myself and the world around me. I think you should use it as a chance to develop your own writing style, as well as learning how you best dissect big issues and form your argument, and your tutors in these modules are fantastic in helping guide you in achieving this.
This is where you find the more engaging and interesting topics, as lecturer get to teach you about their own research interests. I have studied topics spanning from Europe in 500AD to Russia’s political climate of the present day, studied themes and issues which cover all continents and time periods of history. This is where you can begin to specialise, and focus on what you find interesting, and use the skills you learn in your core modules to express yourself as an academic and a historian. It is also an opportunity to learn about a topic you’ve never come across, and I’d definitely encouraged you to do this as I have in both years, with my 2nd year Mexico module being my favourite module this year.
The Warwick history staff are academically brilliant and absolutely lovely. Teaching wise, it is not uncommon to be reading a book and seeing your lecturers name as a reference. You can really tell you are learning from top academics in their field, and that what you are learning is the cutting edge of research. As amazing as it is, however, the support I have received throughout my time at Warwick has been unreal. I have struggled through university at points, and my staff have been so understanding, always checking up on me to see if I was okay, and pointing me where to go when I needed extra support. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it through uni, and I definitely wouldn’t have got grades I can be proud to have obtained. They are a credit to themselves and the university as a whole.
A history degree will have you at times questioning your own existence, the credibility of the state, and wondering how you can write over 500 words on the smallest of topics, but what it can give you is nothing short of wonderful, I am personally honoured and privileged to have studied my favourite subject at a top class institution.