Study History and graduate with a university degree

History regularly achieves above average student satisfaction in the National Student Survey with particular strengths in staff enthusiasm for the subject and detailed feedback on coursework.

Understanding the past is essential to making sense of the modern world.

Our course equips you with this knowledge and with a range of intellectual and personal skills. You’ll gain an awareness of how different societies across the world have changed over time, by studying areas such as Scottish, British, European, American and African history. You’ll engage with different types of history: political, social, cultural, gender, computer and environmental.

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
BBBB - one sitting.
ABBB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

Three-year Honours degree

SQA Adv. Higher:

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points

Essential subjects:
To include History.

Other qualifications


Minimum entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.

Advanced entry
May be possible with an HND in Social Sciences.
Modules required - History A, B, C and D.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those students who do not meet the required criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
January entry also available - see semester dates

Course contact

Dr J J Smyth University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 467961 www.stir.ac.uk/arts-humanities

Course Director

Dr Alastair Mann

Alternative routes

History welcomes Year 2 entrants either from HND or through A Levels and Advanced Highers (see criteria above). Such students are often especially motivated and committed to their studies, even though the induction semester provides a better opportunity to meet fellow students and to grow accustomed to the new surroundings.

Find out more


Degree course

Students take History plus two other subjects in Year 1.

Semesters 1 – 3

You will take the following modules:

  • Britain in the World, 1707–2000: An introduction
  • Concepts of History
  • Reputations in History

Semesters 4 – 8

In each of these semesters you will normally choose one, two or three modules from a varied list of options, which include:

  • Survey courses in 19th-century and 20th-century African, American, British, European, Irish and Scottish history
  • Courses in historical sub-disciplines, including black history, environmental history, gender history, history and computing, political thought and revolution studies
  • Specialist courses in particular countries and periods, such as South Africa, the modern Balkans and early modern Europe (1500 to 1700)

In addition, Honours History students and those taking a Combined Honours degree with Education must take the Semester 6 module Approaches and Methods: Dissertation Preparation for Honours History.

In Semesters 7 and 8 Honours students take a ‘special subject’ involving the use of printed documentary collections and other source material. Single Honours History students also write a supervised dissertation of between 14,000 and 16,000 words on a chosen research topic.

The range of special subjects includes, for example:

  • The American Revolution
  • Gladstone Studies
  • 'Around 1968': Protest movements and social activism in the UK and Europe
  • Apartheid in South Africa, 1948-1994
  • Immigration in Britain, 1880s-1980s
  • Britain in the Age of the American and French Revolutions
  • Bruce and Stewart Scotland, 1329-1406
  • The ‘Golden Age’ of the Scottish Parliament:1600-1707
  • Environment, Landscape and Improvement in the North Atlantic World c.1500 to c.1900
  • Mobilise! Petition Drives and Popular Politics in the West, 1600 to the present

Module titles

The following is the provisional History course for 2015-16, which is subject to change for administrative and research reasons:

Semester 1

  • Britain in the World, 1707–2000: An introduction
  • Scotland in pre-modern Europe, c.1200-1707: An introduction

Semester 2

  • Concepts of History

Semester 3

  • Reputations in History

Semester 4

  • Europe in the long Nineteenth Century 1789-1914
  • American History, 1787-1890
  • Social History of the Victorian City: Computer Approaches
  • War, Famine, Disease and Death, c.1250-c.1650
  • Union, Rebellion and 'ages' new: Scotland 1707 to c.1830

Semester 5

  • Interwar Europe - Communism, Fascism and Democracy, 1914-1945
  • The United States since 1890
  • Gender in Britain, 1750-1930
  • Stewart Scotland, 1406-1488: Kingship and Tyranny?
  • Nineteenth Century Scotland, c.1800-1914
  • Religion, Politics and Society in 19th Century Britain

Semester 6

  • Safer Spaces: the Use, Abuse and Protection of the Environment in 20th Century Britain
  • Environment, Politics and People in Colonial Africa
  • Protests, Riots and Propoganda: Popular Politics in Eighteenth Century Britain
  • Radicalism to Labourism: Popular Politics 1800-1914
  • Approaches and Methods in History
  • For God, King and Parliament: Birth of Modern Europe, 1500-1700
  • Picts in Perspective : Archaelogy and the Historian
  • The American Indian: Survival, revivial and soveignty
  • Stewart Scotland II: 1488-1542 - The Glory of Princely Governing?

Semester 7 and 8 (special subjects)

  • Mobilise! Petition Drives and Popular Politics in the West, 1600 to the present
  • Gladstone Studies
  • Government and Society in Scotland 1800-1918
  • Immigration in Britain, 1880s-1990s
  • 'Around 1968': Protest Movements and Social Activism in the UK and Europe
  • Britain in the Age of the American and French Revolutions

Teaching and assessment

Each semester’s work is assessed separately. Assessment is based on a combination of essays, examinations and oral performance. The Honours classification is based on grades obtained in Semesters 5 – 8.

Reading list

Recommended reading suggestions by module are listed and can be viewed in the History Handbook which is available via the History and Politics website at www.historyandpolitics.stir.ac.uk

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

In Semester 1 students do three subjects, generally in arts and related subjects through  nine contact hours, each with two one-hour lectures and a one one-hour tutorial. A full Honours degree in History would develop on the following lines (see degree course above):

Year Semester Subject 1 Subject 2 Subject 3
1 1 Britain, 1707-1914 Politics English Studies
2 Concepts of History Politics French
2 3 Reputations in History French Film and Media
4 Europe 1789-1914 America 1787-1890 Politics
3 5 Africa, in the 20th century Gender in Britain, 1750-1930 Interwar Europe, 1914-1945
6 Popular politics in 18th century Britain Approaches and Methods: Dissertation Preparation The American Indian
4 7 Special subject dissertation  
8 Special subject dissertation  

Combined degrees

History can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
English Studies QV31
English Studies/Professional Education QXHC
Film and Media PV31
French RV11
Journalism Studies VP15
Law MV11
Philosophy VV15
Politics LV21
Politics/Professional Education LX21
Education VX11
Religion VV16
Religion/Professional Education VXC1
Sociology LV31
Sociology/Professional Education VXD1
Spanish RV41
Sports Studies VC16

(For a Combined Honours degree the higher entrance requirements of the subjects usually apply.)

Related degrees

History at Stirling offers two unique aspects not found in other universities. Firstly, in Semester 3 a core module Reputations in History is offered and which must be taken by all History and Scottish History students. This provides a fascinating insight into historical characters and their reputations, from William Wallace to Nelson Mandela, taking in male and female figures from world history over a thousand years.

Secondly, at advanced level and in the final year we offer special subjects that last the whole academic year (Semesters 7 and 8). These allow students to benefit from the enthusiasm and interest, and indeed the most recent research, of staff committed to their field of study. This level of in-depth study runs in parallel with the dissertation which must be taken by all History and Scottish History Honours degree students. At Stirling the final year is quite an experience.

Study abroad

You may apply to study in the US under the University’s exchange scheme with a wide range of American universities and colleges. Students doing a Combined Honours degree with French or Spanish are normally required to study in the appropriate country for one semester.


Teaching provision in History has been assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and achieved the highest possible rating of 'commendable' in all aspects. In addition, at the last RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) whereby research quality is audited by external auditors, History was commended for the international quality of its research.


History retains strong connections with a range of historical and heritage industries and former students who have achieved employment in such areas. Contacts are also strong with SATH, the Scottish Association of Teachers of History. In addition, History offers a popular and much valued Master’s of Research course which is often taken by students seeking to develop historical skills at postgraduate level or who wish a stepping-stone to a research degree (PhD).

Academic Strengths

History has a range of academic expertise nurtured by a strong research ethos sustained by the staff. In particular, late medieval, early modern, environmental impact, computer applications, gender, race relations, revolution studies and political and social change are taught within the wide geographical spread of Europe, America, Africa, Britain and Scotland.

Our students

I feel extremely lucky for having had the opportunity to study at the University of Stirling. The History and Politics department is a welcoming, supportive and exciting place to study. During my Honours degree I was given the opportunity to study a wide range of areas and over the course of four years studied Scottish, British, African and American history.

The variety of courses available to undergraduate students in the department is fantastic; particularly valuable is the range of specialist subjects offered to undergraduate students in their final year. This year of specialist study provides the chance to discover a niche upon which to potentially build an academic career and provides the opportunity to refine the skills learnt during the earlier years of the degree. I enjoyed my time as an undergraduate at Stirling so much that I stayed on at the University to complete my MRes.

Lesley Hislop BA (Hons) History, graduated 2010.

There are many reasons why I think History became the fundamental component of my academic career. Firstly, History at Stirling is one of the finest departments in the UK both in terms of teaching and subject choice. The staff are fantastic and deserve recognition for their hard work, enthusiasm, and most of all encouragement; always friendly and approachable it’s easy to find help with any problem, be it academic or otherwise.

Secondly the range of subjects taught - from early medieval Scotland to twentieth century Africa and modern Europe - reflects a wide range of expertise among staff who are at the forefront of research in their respective fields. Students have a genuine abundance of choice in both core and optional units. All in all, the department is friendly, diverse and engaging, vibrant and dynamic it has been a pleasure to have studied here.

Diane McClurg BA (Hons) History, graduated 2006.

Our Staff

Dr Alastair Mann, the course Director, is an early modern Scottish historian with interests in political history, the Scottish Parliament and the press form 1500 to the present. He is himself a graduate of Stirling and returned to teach here in 2005.  He is author of the recently published biography James VII: Duke and King of Scots (2014).

Dr James Smyth, the Admissions Officer, took his degrees at the University of Glasgow and his PhD at Edinburgh University.  He joined the Department in 1993.  His principal research interests are in the social and political history of modern Scotland and his recent publications include articles on crime and punishment, housing, and the treatment of the poor.

Success stories

Taking Single Honours in History at Stirling was a rewarding experience. There are a wide range of courses on offer, covering not just Scottish, British and European History, but American and African History. The first three semesters give you a good grounding in the basics of history at university level as well as teaching you skills which are useful in other subjects; such as the art of essay writing, research and oral presentation skills. The advanced courses give the student the chance to find a historical niche for themselves. I discovered American History, and I have since gone on to  complete an MRes (part-time) and PhD (full-time)  in that subject area, also at Stirling. I have even begun to do some teaching myself working as a teaching assistant and it is good to give back something to my own University.

Stuart Salmon BA (Hons) History, graduated 2000; History, PhD graduated 2010.

94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

A History degree has always been valued by employers because of the intellectual challenges it offers and the particular skills it fosters. These include the ability to argue a persuasive case, a capacity for independent work and effective time management, an ability to organise and solve problems, and a capacity to communicate clearly in writing and in speech. History graduates from Stirling, therefore, have been successful in obtaining a wide variety of posts, some in history-related areas such as teaching and work in museums and libraries; others in fields such as administration, commerce, the civil service, banking and insurance.

Skills you can develop through this course

  • demonstrate command of a substantial body of historical knowledge
  • understand how people have existed, acted and thought in the context of the past
  • read and evaluate texts and other source materials critically
  • appreciate the complexity and diversity of situations, events and past mentalities
  • reflect critically on the nature and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline
  • marshal an argument, be self-disciplined and independent intellectually
  • express orally and in writing with coherence, clarity and fluency
  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information
  • analyse and solve problems
  • understand and develop time management and thinking under pressure
  • use effectively ICT, information retrieval and presentation skills
  • exercise self-discipline, self-direction and initiative
  • work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views
  • work collaboratively and participate effectively in group discussions
  • show empathy and imaginative insight.

There is a lively series of guest lectures which students can attend on this programme.

Where are our graduates now?

Our graduates are spread throughout the world.

History graduates are currently contributing to the performance of the following organisations: 

  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Northumbria University
  • Heritage Path Project
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Diago
  • The European Parliament
  • NHS

To provide you with an indication as to what you can do with your History degree, graduates entering into employment in the past two years are currently working inteaching, finance, recruitment , retail, the heritage industry and journalism.

Building on that foundation, alumni of Stirling’s History degree who graduated between five and ten years ago have since advanced into some of the following positions:

  • Personal Claims Advisor
  • Data Controller
  • Personal Assistant
  • Customer Service Adviser
  • Sports Union President
  • Marketing Assistant
  • Branch Manager
  • Recruitment Consultant

Some of our more established alumni are currently leading and shaping strategy across many different sectors – here is an example of how a few former Stirling History students have advanced in their careers:

  • Teacher, English and Media
  • Archaeology Advisor
  • Chartered Accountant
  • Assistant Curator - Technology
  • Student Recruitment
  • Project officer
  • Archivist
  • Senior Committee Officer
  • Solicitor
  • Information Officer
  • Assistant Librarian

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,555.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,275.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

  • Degree award BA (Hons)
  • UCAS Code V100
  • Type Full-time, Part-time
  • Start date September / January
UCAS Application Make an Enquiry Course Directory UG Prospectus