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BA (Honours) History

With this degree course you will develop and deepen your knowledge of different periods of history from antiquity to the mid-twentieth century. Engaging with a range of exciting and challenging topics such as imperialism, politics, social relations, medicine, warfare and religion in different periods, you will learn the skills of the historian in studying the materials of the past. You will also examine some of the critical approaches taken by historians to their subject matter. We offer a number of alternative routes through the BA (Hons) History with different combinations of modules, allowing you to align your studies with your own particular historical interests. Studying within a broad framework designed to meet high national standards for single-subject history degrees, you will develop a range of skills in knowledge management, oral and written communication, critical reasoning, research, and information and communications technologies, all of which are highly valued in the modern workplace.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q01 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal entry requirements to study this degree.

Fees: Our fees depend on where you are ordinarily resident. We have a range of funding options to help you with payment. When you apply to study we will tell you the fee and funding options that are available to you. Before you apply you can read What you can expect to pay.

Career relevance and employability

Study of the arts and humanities requires an understanding of human activities in diverse cultural environments and in very different historical circumstances. The breadth of study and the range of cultural texts and objects analysed, combined with training in clear thinking and communication, make the BA (Hons) History relevant to a wide variety of careers, including:

  • public administration, local government, the civil service, art institutions, and social services
  • advertising, journalism, publishing, creative industries and public relations
  • education
  • legal work
  • business, banking and retail
  • human resources
  • charities and campaigning.

Employers greatly value the high-level skills acquired by studying a history degree - which may be broadly summarised as critical thinking, analysis, and communication. You'll sharpen your IT, writing, and independent thinking skills, and develop the ability to assimilate and evaluate relevant information in constructing an argument. These are key skills in complex organisations, greatly sought after in the world beyond study - whether you're already working, volunteering or changing career.

There's more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Educational aims

We aim to:

  • explain what the academic study of History is all about (and how it differs from 'popular history' on TV or in books). Above all else, we aim to make you aware of the nature of the discipline and subdisciplines of History (for instance, political, economic and social history) and of their distinctive approaches and methods
  • give you a good grounding in the history of the British Isles and Continental Europe from the later Middle Ages to the present, and stimulate and help to satisfy your interest in the subject
  • allow you to set historical study at Levels 1, 2 and 3 within a degree programme that will meet the quality controls agreed by the Quality Assurance Agency and encourage your progression through the various levels of the programme. By the end of the programme, you should be able to engage in independent study with relatively little tutorial support
  • allow you to combine historical study with interdisciplinary work and enable you to set the discipline of History within the context of other arts disciplines
  • allow you to specialise to some extent in certain areas
  • emphasise the practical aspects of 'being a historian'
  • help you to communicate your knowledge and understanding to a knowledgeable audience.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes for your degree describe the knowledge and understanding, the cognitive (intellectual) skills, the practical or professionally related skills, and the key skills that you will have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate as you study for a BA (Hons) in History. You might like to extract statements from the following lists to support any applications you make for further study or employment.

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • history as a systematic and reflective discipline producing bodies of knowledge about the past, these being constantly subject to controversy, debate, refinement and correction
  • aspects of the history of Britain, Continental Europe and North America across the period from the later Middle Ages to the present
  • the use and value of relevant concepts and theories, particularly with reference to comparative method, intellectual history, economic and social history, and political science
  • the processes of historical research and of the evaluation and use of primary and secondary sources
  • the nature of historical change
  • the insights historians can derive from interdisciplinary work.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • read critically and think logically
  • distinguish between objective knowledge, hypotheses and opinions
  • apply such knowledge and understanding and other cognitive skills to the solution of problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature
  • synthesise information and ideas obtained from a variety of sources, including written and visual sources
  • to use secondary and primary sources appropriately in your work, appreciating the differences between them.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • seek out, collect and select relevant information in a systematic manner, using information literacy
  • evaluate and analyse historical evidence of all kinds, secondary and primary
  • present historical discussion appropriately and provide scholarly apparatus (according to conventions within the discipline) and proper acknowledgement of relevant work by other scholars.

Key skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following key skills:


  • discuss a complex subject in an appropriate manner in writing and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding in clear prose, using the language of the discipline
  • read and synthesise substantial amounts of material (frequently not intended for student use).

Improving own learning and performance

  • study and learn independently: including planning and executing a study programme
  • seek and use feedback from the tutor, and through reflection and self-assessment activity, to improve performance in the academic context.

Information literacy

  • compile a bibliography.

Application of number

  • know where this skill is relevant and how to apply and interpret statistical information in a historical context.

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