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BA (Honours) Humanities

This degree in humanities offers a broad-based grounding in the study and enjoyment of the arts and humanities - covering a fascinating variety of cultures, periods and subjects - while developing your critical and analytical skills. As you explore diverse perspectives on human culture, you'll encounter a range of absorbing issues encompassing understanding of the past, reading and studying the arts, and analysis of different and conflicting points of view. Through independent and self-directed work, you'll develop and hone the skills of argument and analysis which are highly valued by employers. This degree course also enables you to study specialist options in depth - including art history, classical studies, creative writing, English language, French, German, history, literature, music, philosophy, religious studies, and Spanish. Whatever study pathway you choose, you'll encounter stimulating and challenging topics from across different periods and civilisations.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q03 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal qualifications required 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 range of cultural texts and objects analysed, combined with training in clear thinking and communication, make this degree course 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 humanities 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

This is a wide-ranging programme of study across the arts and humanities which aims to provide you with the flexibility to choose modules from several different subjects or, if you prefer, to specialise in one or two subjects.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

When you complete your studies for this degree, you will be able to:

  • recognise the importance of what people think, make and practise and their meaning and values in the past and today
  • understand and employ appropriate critical vocabulary for the discussion of artefacts, texts or histories
  • contextualise cultures of the past and see their connections with the present
  • understand the significance of and evaluate different kinds of primary and secondary sources (written, visual or aural) and select and employ appropriate academic methods to their analysis.

In addition, the programme will provide you with:

  • a thorough grounding in the humanities to honours level
  • a comprehensive grounding in the skills of analysis, argument and expression in the humanities
  • the ability to write well-argued essays and other specified written tasks, including work in formal examinations, and reflect on tutor feedback, and use this feedback to improve on future performance appropriate to honours level study
  • if you adopt a subject specialism, a comprehensive sense of the different ways of approaching your chosen subject specialism to honours level
  • an awareness of the transferable skills you have gained in the process of studying the arts and humanities to honours level, and a sense of how these skills might serve you in future study and in building your career as appropriate.

Cognitive skills

When you complete your studies for this degree, you will be able to

  • synthesise large amounts of primary and secondary evidence or source material into manageable or digestible form
  • critically evaluate and challenge information, arguments and assumptions from different sources, and distinguish between opinion and criticism
  • draw appropriate conclusions on the basis of evidence
  • select and use accurately appropriate methods of analysis, enquiry and critical theory and be aware of their limitations
  • recognise the potential uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in the humanities.

Practical and/or professional skills

By the end of the degree, you will have developed and demonstrated:

  • degree-level skills of reading, note-taking and writing
  • the ability to synthesise large amounts of information
  • the ability to think critically, weighing arguments against one another and coming to a conclusion
  • the confidence to work as an independent learner and to present ideas in different contexts.

Key skills

When you complete your studies for this degree, you will be able to:

  • employ appropriate methods and critical or descriptive tools to analyse cultural artefacts from the past and present
  • construct a well-substantiated argument from conflicting sources and come to a conclusion of your own
  • communicate a complex argument effectively in written form, using appropriate referencing conventions and scholarly apparatus
  • select and use appropriate ICT tools to further your learning (including online resources and online tutorial activities)
  • display graduate level skills in information literacy, specifically, the ability to find and evaluate competing sources of information for study purposes
  • use ICT to enhance presentation and writing skills
  • find, critically evaluate and use online information or data accurately in complex contexts
  • as an independent and reflective learner, plan, monitor and evaluate your own learning and seek ways to improve your performance.

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