Undergraduate study in the School of History

With over 50 members of staff, the School of History at St Andrews provides a very wide range of undergraduate teaching, both geographically and chronologically.

Teaching takes place in the heart of beautiful and historic St Andrews. With only 5,000 undergraduate students, and situated in a small seaside town, the University of St Andrews prides itself on its strong and cohesive academic community.

For history students, lectures given by experts in their field, regular small group tutorials and seminars provide the opportunity to develop historical learning and skills in a friendly and supportive environment.

The School of History also supports a community outwith the classroom, with graduate students, seminars, visiting speakers and an active History Society.

Most of the School's undergraduate students will graduate with an MA (Hons) which is completed in four years. The degree follows the traditional Scottish pattern – in first and second year, History is studied alongside other subjects; in the final two years students take advanced and specialised History classes. It is also possible to take History modules as part of a General degree.

Degree courses

The School also participates in the BA International Honours programme. 


First and second years

Teaching at sub-honours level is principally by lectures and small group tutorials. Lectures are given by all members of the School, enabling students to hear active researchers in each field talk about their specialism. Tutorials are an opportunity for students to discuss and develop their thinking in a small and friendly atmosphere, guided by a professional expert.

Third and fourth years

Teaching at Honours level in the final two years moves away from large group lecturing. Students meet in groups of about 15 (for Honours options) or about 6 (for final year special subjects) for longer classes in which they are expected to participate fully. Students in single history Honours programmes will usually have two such classes each week and joint Honours students will have one. All students will be required to undertake substantial independent, but guided, work outside the classroom.

Final year students will also write a dissertation in place of one of these weekly classes in one semester. The dissertation is supervised by a member of staff and is a piece of independent research which builds on areas of interest and skills developed in the preceding four years of study. Students can elect to undertake a project which involves an extended essay and oral assessment instead of the dissertation. 

Skills training

Undergraduate students are offered skills training in areas such as essay writing and good academic conduct. 

Study abroad

The School of History offers several exciting study abroad opportunities for students in their third year. Study abroad is a great opportunity to gain a new perspective on your course whilst living in a different country. This fun and challenging experience gives more than a year away from St Andrews - it provides you with an impressive experience to add to your CV and enables you to stand out from the crowd in the job market after graduation.

You can study abroad either by taking part in the History-specific programmes (Bonn, Dublin, Leiden, Oslo, Strasbourg), or in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme, which offers a wide variety of options in the USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore.

Some exchange programmes are restricted by degree intention.


Undergraduates who study history at St Andrews have traditionally moved into a very wide range of careers on graduating. Some stay in academic life, perhaps proceeding via a postgraduate training degree to doctoral study either in St Andrews or at another university.  Other students have progressed to postgraduate qualifications in teaching, in law or in accountancy. 

The range of possibilities opened up by a degree in history is vast – recent history graduates have, for example, worked for art galleries and auction houses, and in journalism, the media, financial institutions and marketing.

Discover the range of career options available to you with a degree in history and see what some former students are doing now by visiting the University Careers Centre.