History at Durham University

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Many thanks to Mme Schouker who took these notes at a recent Open Day.

History Department

  • 1,948 applicants for 146 places; 500 offers made
  • 40 permanent teaching staff
  • range of expertise with a particular strength in history of China
  • research-led teaching: modular courses tailored to research interests of professors rather than broad survey courses. Out of 6 modules in first year of study, students can take 2 from other departments.
  • Three-year course of study: 1st year results are considered preparatory and do not count, 2nd year counts for 40%, third year for 60% of final grade. Course work and examinations both count 50%. In third year the students will write a compulsory dissertation on any historical subject.
  • Three degree options:
    • Single Honors: admitted by history dept.
    • Joint Honors (with classics department): admitted by both departments (4 yrs with final year abroad)
    • Combined Honors (modern Languages or other): admitted by Combined Honors in Social Sciences department
  • Option to spend second year studying abroad in exchange programs at Boston College, University of Hong Kong, Peking University, and National University of Singapore.
  • IB score requirements: at least 38 with 6,6,6, in HL subjects; A*AA
  • No interview
  • Personal Statement: optional Durham specific substitute personal statement, which should only be used if UCAS statement is limited to one subject and in the case of Joint or Combined Honors it would be wiser to use the Durham statement. However, if an applicant uses the Durham personal statement, the UCAS personal statement will not be read by admissions so make sure to include everything in the Durham statement. In personal statement:
    • Do not provide a list of historical books read, instead talk about the how the historian used evidence in the book and whether or not you found it convincing and why.
    • Show an enthusiasm for a wide range of history because the Durham history degree requires that students take modules in medieval, early modern, late modern, and non-Western European history.
    • Mention any independent projects or IB essays/extended essays but do not just state the title, instead explain how you came up with the topic and specifically how you turned a vague topic into an historical question.
    • Show a good balance of academic excellence with extra-curricular activities as Durham places a lot of value on sports/music and time management.
  • Applicant must demonstrate three core abilities: wide and critical reading, debating skills and the ability to write well.
  • Any admission questions can be referred to Kelly Groundwater, Admissions Secretary: admissions.history@durham.ac.uk