BA Modern and Contemporary History

The information on this page relates to September 2016 entry. For 2017 information, including grade requirements, please check our prospectus.

BA Modern and Contemporary History students taking notes in a lecture

In choosing to study the Modern and Contemporary History degree at Aberystwyth University you will specialise in the history of Britain, Europe and the Americas from 1730 to the present day. You will be part of one of the longest-established departments in the university, which is recognised as one of the foremost History departments in Britain. As a History student at Aberystwyth you will enjoy full membership of the National Library of Wales. With over 6 million books, maps and prints, it is situated within a five-minute walk of the Department, so you will never be without that important reference. Expand the sections below to discover more...

Overview

The Modern and Contemporary History degree covers the period from the French Revolution to the present day. It explores an era marked by mass participation, whether in politics, war or culture. It illuminates the contradictions of modernity – characterized by utopian experiments and their often nightmarish outcomes, by the proclamation of human rights, by genocide and ethnic cleansing, and by the promise of reason, science and technology.

Why study Modern and Contemporary History at Aberystwyth?

History has been taught at Aberystwyth since the foundation of the University in 1872, making the Department of History and Welsh History the oldest History department in Wales and one of the foremost in Britain. Despite our heritage we continue to innovate to ensure that you get the best History degree you possibly can.

All our lecturers are active researchers who publish their work, and you will benefit from being taught the latest historical theories and techniques. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014) assessment the university was placed in the top 50 institutions for research power and intensity. It submitted 77% of eligible staff and 95% of the university's research was of an internationally recognised standard.

In addition to a fine University library, as a History student at Aberystwyth you will enjoy full membership of the National Library of Wales. One of only five copyright libraries in the United Kingdom, with over six million books, maps, prints and manuscripts, it is situated within a five-minute walk of the Department. You will find this especially valuable when studying your special subject and writing your dissertation in your third year. Through our close association with the National Library we are also able to offer you exciting work placement opportunities there.

You will find a very friendly and welcoming community in the Department of History and Welsh History, and the lively History Society organizes a programme of guest lectures, visits to places of interest and social events throughout the year.

The Department has established links with a number of universities overseas, so we can also provide you with the opportunity to spend a period of time abroad immersing yourself in a different and exciting historical culture.

91% of our 2014 History graduates were in employment or further study 6 months after graduating, a 10 percentage point increase on the previous year (DLHE 2014). The number of those entering professional level work or graduate level education also increased by 15 percentage points over the year, compared with a 2.5 percentage point increase nationally.

These increases reflect our investment in innovative and strategic student-focused employability initiatives which encompass all our academic Institutes and which we firmly believe are likely to improve our employability ratings still further.

The Department also offers a number of degree schemes and modules taught entirely or partially through the medium of Welsh. Further details may be obtained from the Department.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Year 1 Options All Part One students MUST take the Department's 20-credit Part One core module (through medium of English or Welsh):

Semester 1

Cyflwyno Hanes HA12120

Introduction To History HY12120

Year 1 Options Part One students must take a further 100 credits of modules (of which at least 40 must be taken in the History & Welsh History department):

Semester 1

Concwest, Uno A Hunaniaeth Yng Nghymru 1250-1800 HC11120

Cymru A'r Byd: Cysylltiadau A Dylanwadau 1860 - 2000 HC11520

Stuart England: War, Political Crisis And Social Change 1629-1714 HY11920

Russia Since 1900 HY12020

Nationalism, Totalitarianism And Democratization: Czechoslov HY12220

Soldiers, Saints & Serfs: England, 1042-1154 HY14320

Conquest, Union And Identity In Wales 1250-1800 WH11120

Semester 2

Y Dirwasgiad Mawr: Hanes Cymharol America A Phrydain HA10620

Argyfwng, Gwrthryfel A Ffydd Yn Ewrop C.1000-1540 HA10820

Oes Y Fictoriaid HA13820

Age Of Magna Carta-england And Its Neighbours C1180-c1280 HY12520

Three Queens And Their Subjects HY12720

Britain And The First World War HY13220

Modernity And The Making Of Asia HY15220

From Revolution To World War: Wales 1789-1914 WH11620

Year 2 Options Year Two students MUST TAKE the 20-credit core module in semester one (through medium of English or Welsh):

Semester 1

Llunio Hanes HA30120

Making History HY30120

Year 2 Options Year Two students MUST TAKE one 20-credit SURVEY module in Semester One:

Semester 1

Concro'r Byd: Tŵf A Chwymp Ymerodraethau Prydain A Ffrainc HA31820

The Challenge To Christendom HY31020

Early Modernity In Europe HY31120

War & Society In History HY31620

Year 2 Options Year Two students MUST TAKE one 20-credit SKILLS module in Semester Two:

Semester 2

Gwrando Ar Hanes: Y Mudiad Hawliau Sifil Yn America HA34720

Investigating Georgian And Victorian Landscapes HY32720

History As Myth-making: The 'myth Of The Blitz' HY33420

Germans And Nazism Since 1933: Reading Public Opinion Surveys, Diaries And Memoirs HY33520

Image Wars In Southeast Asia: Studying 20th Century Propaganda HY33720

Journalism And The Writing Of History HY33920

Medieval Chronicles: Historical Writing In The British Isles 540-1300 HY34020

History In Cartoons: Studying Georgian Satirical Prints HY34320

Seals In Their Context In Medieval England And Wales HY34420

Exploring Nineteenth-century Exhibitions HY34620

Year 2 Options Year Two students should choose 60-credits worth of OPTIONAL modules in the Department of History and Welsh History (though students may opt to take up to 20-credits outside the Department if they wish):

Semester 1

Gwrthdaro A Chydfodolaeth: Cymru O’r Normaniaid Hyd Glyndŵr HC32220

Oes Yr Ymerodraeth: Prydain Ac Iwerddon, 1850-1914 HC34320

East & West In The Age Of Crusades, C. 1070 - C. 1290 HY35120

Politics And Society In Twentieth-century Britain HY37620

Science, Religion And Magic HY38620

Germany Since 1945 HY39620

The Atlantic World, 1492-1825 HY39720

Rhyfel Algeria 1952-1964 IE20420

An Age Of Empire: Britain And Ireland, 1850-1914 WH34320

Semester 2

Trosedd, Terfysg A Moesoldeb Yng Nghymru 1750-1850 HC33420

The British Isles And The ‘english Revolution’ HY35720

From Black Death To Great Fire: The British Town 1349-1700 HY36120

War, Famine And Plague: England In The Fourteenth Century HY36720

Expansion, Intervention And Influence: The United States As A Continental Power HY39120

Culture, Society And The Victorians HY39320

The Soviet Union And The World, 1917-1991 HY39520

Crime, Riot And Morality In Wales 1750-1850 WH33420

Civil War And Revolution In Stuart Wales, 1603-1714 WH36220

Final Year Options FINAL YEAR single honours students MUST TAKE the DISSERTATION module which runs over semesters one and two (through the medium of English or Welsh):

Semester 1

Traethawd Estynedig HA30300

Dissertation HY30300

Semester 2

Traethawd Estynedig HA30340

Dissertation HY30340

Final Year Options Final Year students MUST TAKE one 20-credit SURVEY module in Semester One:

Semester 1

Concro'r Byd: Tŵf A Chwymp Ymerodraethau Prydain A Ffrainc HA31820

The Challenge To Christendom HY31020

Early Modernity In Europe HY31120

War & Society In History HY31620

Final Year Options Final Year students MUST TAKE two co-requisite 20-credit SPECIAL SUBJECT modules (the first part running in semester one and the complementary module in semester two):

Semester 1

Milwyr, Myfyrwyr A Masnachwyr: Teithio A Symudedd Yn Ewrop Ganoloesol (rhan 1) HP34520

Ritual, Kingship And Power In Norman And Angevin England: Methods, Sources & Actors (part 1) HQ33120

Gender In History: The Early Modern Experience (part 1) HQ35220

British Society And The French Revolution, 1789-1795: Initial Reactions (part 1) HQ36420

Romantic Wales, 1780-1847 (part 1) HQ36820

Britain At War 1939-45 (part 1) HQ37520

Stalin And Stalinism (part 1) HQ37920

The Third Reich (part 1): Building The Dictatorship. Regime And Society In Nazi Germany, 1933-1939 HQ38320

The Vietnam War (part 1) HQ38520

Semester 2

Milwyr, Myfyrwyr A Masnachwyr: Teithio A Symudedd Yn Ewrop Ganoloesol (rhan 2) HP34620

Ritual, Kingship And Power In Norman And Angevin England: Methods, Sources & Actors (part 2) HQ33220

Gender In History: The Early Modern Experience (part 2) HQ35320

British Society And The French Revolution, 1795-1803: The Revolutionary Wars And Napoleon (part 2) HQ36520

Romantic Wales, 1780-1847 (part 2) HQ36920

Britain At War 1939-45 (part 2) HQ37620

Stalin And Stalinism (part 2) HQ38020

The Third Reich (part 2): War And The Holocaust, 1939-1945 HQ38420

The Vietnam War (part 2) HQ38620

Final Year Options Final Year students should choose one 20-credit OPTION module in either semester:

Semester 1

Gwrthdaro A Chydfodolaeth: Cymru O’r Normaniaid Hyd Glyndŵr HC32220

Oes Yr Ymerodraeth: Prydain Ac Iwerddon, 1850-1914 HC34320

East & West In The Age Of Crusades, C. 1070 - C. 1290 HY35120

Politics And Society In Twentieth-century Britain HY37620

Science, Religion And Magic HY38620

Germany Since 1945 HY39620

The Atlantic World, 1492-1825 HY39720

Rhyfel Algeria 1952-1964 IE20420

An Age Of Empire: Britain And Ireland, 1850-1914 WH34320

Semester 2

Trosedd, Terfysg A Moesoldeb Yng Nghymru 1750-1850 HC33420

The British Isles And The ‘english Revolution’ HY35720

From Black Death To Great Fire: The British Town 1349-1700 HY36120

War, Famine And Plague: England In The Fourteenth Century HY36720

Expansion, Intervention And Influence: The United States As A Continental Power HY39120

Culture, Society And The Victorians HY39320

The Soviet Union And The World, 1917-1991 HY39520

Crime, Riot And Morality In Wales 1750-1850 WH33420

Civil War And Revolution In Stuart Wales, 1603-1714 WH36220

Employability

Career prospects

While many History graduates take up careers directly linked to their subject such as working in the fields of archives, heritage or museum management, others find employment in a wide range of related and non-related professional employment, including librarianship, records management, journalism, media, advertising, the legal profession, local government, business and finance, a range of jobs which incorporate research, professional writing, the police force, the military, public relations and personnel management. The research and analytical skills you will develop during your degree will also provide a sound basis for postgraduate study and for a career in academia.

Transferable Skills

Studying for a degree in Modern and Contemporary History will equip you with a range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. These include:

• the ability to express ideas and communicate information in a clear and structured manner, in both written and oral form
• effective problem-solving and creative thinking skills
• the ability to work independently
• time-management and organisational skills, including the ability to meet deadlines
• self-motivation and self-reliance
• team-working, with the ability to discuss concepts in groups, accommodating different ideas and reaching agreement
• research skills

Year in Employment scheme (YES)

The University operates a Year in Employment scheme (YES), which offers you a fantastic opportunity to take a year out between your second and third year to work in an organisation in the UK or overseas. YES provides a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, both personally and professionally, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. The University’s Career Service will help you to explore your options and secure a suitable work placement. 

GO Wales

GO Wales is administered by the University’s Career Service, working with local businesses to create paid work placements of a few weeks’ duration for students. It gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience which will enhance your CV and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

What will you learn?

In your first year we offer a core module designed to ease you into your undergraduate studies. If you have studied History before, it will set your previous historical studies in a wider context; if you have not taken History at A level, it will serve as an ideal introduction to the subject. The module identifies new concepts and historical skills, new methods and periods, and some of the most exciting recent historical works. You will also be able to choose other modules from a wide selection reflecting a broad chronological and thematic range, so you can study the topics that appeal most to your own personal interests.

In your second year, you will take a module on historical method, which examines the way in which the meaning, methods and writing of history have changed over time. You can also choose from an extensive list of modules designed to broaden your knowledge, give you an insight into the historian’s craft and focus more closely on different topics and periods. 

In your third year, as well as choosing a number of modules from a wide range, you will select a special subject which enables you to study a specific historical topic in depth and allows for an extensive use of original sources, deploying the critical research skills of a practising historian. You will also undertake a dissertation module and produce an extended piece of independent research which will allow you to display a critical understanding of relevant historical literature in your chosen field.

How will you be taught?

The aims of the History syllabus are to communicate the variety and excitement of current approaches to the academic study of History, and to teach such key skills as information retrieval, interpretation and self-expression.
You will be assessed by a variety of methods, including examinations, assessed essays, projects, presentations, and a dissertation on a subject of particular interest to you.

The Department is committed to teaching through individual tutorials and small-group seminars alongside traditional lectures, and to delivering innovative and high quality teaching that will allow you to realise your potential, and to meet your learning expectations. Some preparatory reading in advance of your seminars will enable you to fully engage in the more detailed discussions and sharing of ideas that take place, and the small numbers of students in each seminar group means that you will receive a lot of attention from the lecturers. The one-to-one tutorial gives you the opportunity to receive individual attention and useful feedback from your lecturer on the coursework that you have submitted. Coursework will develop your capacity to research, analyse and present an argument clearly and coherently, while seminars will help you hone your presentation skills.

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

You will also have the opportunity to complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) at Aberystwyth. This is a structured process of self-appraisal, reflection, and planning, which will enable you to chart your personal, academic and professional development throughout your time at university. By recording your academic performance, and highlighting the skills you already have and those you will need for future employability, the PDP portfolio will equip you with the necessary tools to plan effectively, develop successful approaches to study, and consider your future career options and aspirations.

Student Views

With a wide range of modules to choose from I was able to pursue the things I was interested in as well as discovering aspects to History I previously had not thought I would ever be able to look at. Being able to study everything from the industrial revolution to niche subjects was the kind of experience that drew me to Aberystwyth, and you don't find that anywhere else! John Samuel Hewish

Key Information Set

Key Facts

UCAS Code: V191

Tariff Required: 300 - 320

Entry Requirements: Grade B in any A level subject required. GCSE: Grade C in English or Welsh.

Course Length: 3 Years

Related Courses: