History Degree

The study of History – the recovery and analysis of the full range of human activity over time – is as rewarding as it is challenging. Past cultures and civilisations are worth studying for their own sake, yet historical awareness not only enriches contemporary experience by linking the present with the past, thus explaining the origins of many of the world’s current problems, but also helps to recognise that our own cultural and social values are not the only or even most natural or just ones that people have lived with. As globalisation makes the world a smaller and more homogenous place history remains one of the few real fields for exploration and anthropological research – and through the study of history you can encounter new tribes and lost kingdoms. Discovering these alien cultures will help you to understand your own prejudices. The study of history, therefore, involves acquiring the intellectual know-how to evaluate varied kinds of evidence and the skills necessary to interpret it and communicate its significance to others.

The integrated Single Honours degree in History is a flexible programme which allows students to access courses in all historical eras and to draw on the expertise of the widest possible range of teaching staff. Students can combine elements from the range available in Middle Eastern Studies, as well as Ancient, Mediaeval, Modern and Scottish History. This gives you access to the broadest possible range of Honours modules without chronological or geographical constraint.

St Andrews has one of the largest concentrations of historians in the UK on its staff, well over 50, and the wealth of expertise available means that students with wide-ranging interests can study periods and topics ranging from democracy in ancient Greece to gender in twentieth-century America.

During the first two years of study, you take at least five history modules from the range of First and Second level courses in Scottish, Ancient, Modern and Mediaeval History ensuring a broad chronological span.  History degree students also take at least two non-history courses. At Honours level, subject to the constraint that you must take options in at least two of three designated historical periods (before 500 CE, the period 500 – 1500 CE, and the period after 1500), you may choose modules from the full range of History Honours courses; you will also complete a dissertation and a Special Subject designed to make full use of original source materials.  Within these general rules, there is scope to tailor a broadly-based degree, drawing on the wealth of expertise available at St Andrews, that permits you to range widely over historical time and space.

Students meet with an adviser regularly to discuss and plan their course selection.

Please note:
Applicants to St Andrews are required to specify on their UCAS application the honours degree which they intend to take. Students may find, however, that in the course of their first two years of study, their interests develop and change and it is not unusual for students to change their degree intention as they enter their final (honours) two years. The breadth of the Scottish first two years, where students usually take at least two other subjects, in addition to their ‘honours’ intention makes this switch possible.