Why Study History?

History doesn't teach us how to do something. It teaches us about our past, the world we live in today and equips us to prepare and deal with changes in the future.

The subject is so important as it explains to us how our country, our towns, the British government and our communities all came to be what they are today. How else can we claim to be patriotic if we know nothing about the Republic of Ireland's history and what UK citizens have done and, more importantly, sacrificed for us to be where we are right now?

Not only is it relevant to those who want to study or work in an environment that requires postgraduate historical knowledge, but it is also very valuable for all to understand what our ancestors went through to make the life we live possible. So if you have the 'I don't know them so I don't care' attitude, then take a look at your family tree and truly get to know your own family. Then you will be compelled to find out exactly what they went through: their childhood, the jobs they had, the life experiences they encountered and the suffering they were subjected to.

History, as a social sciences subject on every primary and secondary education system, does not help us to predict the future, it helps us to be mindful of the past and equips us to mould the future and create opportunities as a society or nation.

History is not just about understanding the past. It's about changing the future.

This does not mean, of course, that all of the things in History we learn about are bad or caused immense suffering. There are some moments in history that we must celebrate as our biggest and most noteworthy achievements, such as women fighting for the right to vote, which lecturers will revel in telling you all about during your undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Read out post about where to find history courses in London, Glasgow and Leeds.

Abraham Lincoln's place in History will no doubt be on many a History curriculum.
Learn about the History of the world or choose to focus on a specific era, country, war, etc... Photo on Visual Hunt

We are sure you will agree that History is a fascinating and rewarding subject to study, no matter which institution or specialization you choose, but it also offers the opportunity to gain a number of organisation and professional skills that could help you out in life.

UCAS has released statistics showing that more students than ever, including UK and international students, are applying to UK universities to get first-class tuition at one of the country's top universities offering History. There's a wide range of universities and other educational establishments in the United Kingdom, including Scotland and Ireland, which make up the world university rankings and other lists like Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University.

History Career Paths

Just some of the business sectors that are well-suited to History postgraduates are:

  • Jobs in Research and Heritage
  • Jobs at museums (curators, education officers, exhibition officers)
  • Jobs in Media and Journalism
  • Jobs in Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations
  • Other professional sectors that might appeal to historians include Law, Business and Finance, Politics and the Public Sector.

That said, just because you study History, it doesn't mean that you must enter one of these professions. Being taught this humanities subject will improve your employability prospects regardless of what honour you achieve. You'll learn a range of key transferrable skills like analytical skills and creative writing, for example.

Many people choose a subject simply because they enjoy learning about it and don't know what they want to do with their lives after higher education, winding up in a different career altogether when it comes down to it. So don't worry if you dream of becoming a historian or working in a museum. You won't be tied down to a job afterwards - if you love the subject then go ahead and study it just for the love of it!

If you aren't really sure what qualifications you want to achieve, what the entry requirements are for History diplomas or are concerned about tuition fees and funding, why not talk to a careers and further education advisor at your current sixth form or college to get your head around all the university admin and how to apply for that and that? They can give you the lowdown on everything you might want to know about being a student at university, including admission and deadline details, flexible studies, open university, scholarships, and other schemes, preparing you for becoming an applicant and clicking that 'apply now' button.

You might also like to attend open days (or an open evening) at your shortlisted universities.

But, if you've already decided to move to or to stay in Belfast city for your further education (and even if you haven't, let us convince you to!) then let us tell you what life as a student in Belfast is really like!

Where can you study history in Birmingham?

Student Life In Belfast

Keen to find out about the student experience in Belfast?

Belfast has been labelled as more affordable than every other major university student city in the UK, which is surprising given the size and popularity of Belfast as a city in its own right. But it's no word of a lie! Belfast was registered as having the lowest student rent in the UK during the year of 2018... the city must love keeping its population young!

What's more, the cost of living isn't that high in Belfast either so there's another tick on your list. Students, on average, only spend around £15 a week on food shopping (with the national average being £24). Don't expect 5-star cuisine though - it'll be pasta, omelettes, sandwiches and baked beans on the menu most nights of the week!

You don't need a car or moped to get around. Belfast can be explored on foot or by bicycle (which you can hire from Belfast Bikes). If you choose a university that is in the city centre then you'll find that most places are within walking distance of the campus. There are also lots of bus and train services to help you go further afield during your quieter periods, with student travel discounts available.

When it comes to culture, you can get your fix in this multi-cultural city. There are art galleries (like Naughton Gallery and Queen's Film Theatre) and museums (like Ulster Museum) plus the city is scattered with its very own artists, poets, authors and musicians, all of which can be felt everywhere thanks to their creative presence.

In contrast with its beautiful, historic cobbled streets, tonnes of modern restaurants, pubs, cafes and venues can be found around Cathedral Quarter. In addition to this, the city boasts a range of arenas, theatres, concert halls, and clubs, where you can watch stand-up comedy as well as theatrical and dance performances.

Studying history in Belfast
The Belfast Buzz is a thing... students will find lots of nightlife and great gigs across the city. Photo credit: endless autumn on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Don't worry, we haven't forgotten all about the shopping opportunities in Belfast!

The city offers fashion lovers a mix of designer shops independent boutiques and some pretty cool artisan markets. Meanwhile, in the city centre, there are larger shopping centres such as Victoria Square and Castle Court which are home to the best high street stores.

Why Choose History Courses In Belfast?

If you don't want to be a student in Belfast now, then we don't know what to say...!

Now that you have (hopefully) discovered more reasons to love Belfast, let's take a look at the History courses you could find yourself enrolled on. If one of these doesn't suit, then you can find a course in another Belfast institution.

History BA Hons, Queen's University Belfast

"The undergraduate History programme at Queen’s offers students a wide choice of modules. Courses span a long chronological period from Ancient History through to the Contemporary History of the late twentieth century. The School has specialists in ancient, medieval, early modern and modern history. The modules on offer to undergraduates also cover a wide geographical area that includes Ireland, England, Scotland, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. Students can choose modules that focus on gender, social and cultural history, colonial history, politics, religious and economic change.

History Degree Highlights

History at Queen’s has been placed in the QS World University Rankings top 150 History departments in the world for 2018.

Career Development

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) confirmed that History at Queen’s is producing world-leading or internationally excellent research, placing Queen’s in the top 10 of UK history departments. The School hosts many research seminars, conferences and lectures, including the annual highlight of the Wiles lecture series.

World Class Facilities

Top Ranking: History at Queen’s has been placed in the QS World University Rankings top 150 History departments in the world for 2018. Research-led Teaching: the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) confirmed that History at Queen’s is producing world-leading or internationally excellent research, placing Queen’s in the top 10 of UK history departments. The School hosts many research seminars, conferences and lectures, including the annual highlight of the Wiles lecture series.

The School also boasts the following:

  • The Centre for Public History
  • The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
  • Institute of Cognition and Culture
  • Institute of Irish Studies
  • Two International Summer Schools (the Irish Studies Summer School; and the Conflict Transformation and Social Justice Summer School)"

Conway Education Centre - Adult Education, History: Ireland 1850-1916

This course is perfect if you don't want to or can't commit to a full-time, three-year-long course. The part-time study course runs for eight weeks each Friday.

"CEC provides a great range of courses, accredited and non-accredited for people of all abilities. Our tutors are experienced, have a great enthusiasm for teaching in the community and are very approachable. At Conway we believe money should not be a barrier to learning and we keep the course fees are as low as possible. If you prefer, you can agree a payment plan with CEC and pay your course fee over a number of weeks.

The centre has a long term professional relationship with key providers of adult education in Belfast such as the Belfast Metropolitan College and the South Eastern Regional College and has recently started working with the University of Ulster, Queens University and the Open University.

Discover more about the country in which you live with a tailored History course.
You don't have to learn about the History of the world if that doesn't interest you - some courses focus on the history of Ireland, for example. Photo credit: Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com) on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

CEC provides a safe and encouraging environment for learning opportunities, enabling local people to improve their confidence and skills in order to fulfil their potential, enhance their chances of employment, and participate in the development of their community. A key strength of CEC is its learner-centred approach. It has developed strategies, approaches and supports that encourage learners back to education and enable them to develop their confidence, skills and abilities. Hundreds of people a year are re-connected with education at CEC, our youngest learner is 8 and the oldest is 81 years of age."

If you need any more convincing, see feedback from previous students:

“The tutor gave me confidence when I felt I was losing it”

"I never thought I would enjoy the course so much, we all got on well together and helped eachother through the assessment, we all passed!"

History Master of Arts, Ulster University

Clearly, this course is a Masters degree (available full or part-time) which means that you will need to have completed an undergraduate course first. Your first degree doesn't have to be History, however, it should be related.

See some very important details about this course:

"Fees (total cost)
Northern Ireland & EU:£5,900.00
International: £14,060.00 (Scholarships available)

Our MA degrees in History offer an outstanding research led experience for students who want to pursue an interest in History at an advanced level.

The course offers a programme of study that is broad-ranging in terms of its coverage of a variety of areas of Europe since 1500, including Russia and the Soviet Union; medical history; Britain and Ireland; the British Empire and British foreign relations; the Mediterranean world; and US history since 1800. We have thematic and conceptual specialisms in social, political and cultural history; comparative and transnational histories; and the history of migrations and diasporas. If you join us you will be taught by leading authorities in these fields and will gain advanced level training in historical methods, theories and theory and ideas relevant to the study of this island’s past. Overall we provide an excellent foundation for further study; a bridge to new employment opportunities; and a fundamentally valuable cultural and educational experience. We work with local history and cultural sector practitioners from museums, archives, and libraries, and these people contribute to our programme and enhance your experience."

All courses are listed on the relevant university or college's website. Don't forget, you have the option to submit an enquiry via most of the establishments' websites if you have any further questions about your study area.

Read more about finding a history course in Manchester Edinburgh, or Cardiff.

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Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.