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Dr Delphine Doucet: Where can a History degree take you?

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We caught up with Dr Delphine Doucet, Lecturer in History at the University of Sunderland, to find out why History is a great subject to study at degree level.

Man reading a book

What do you teach and what is your academic background?

"Broadly, I am teaching early modern European history (c.1500-c.1800). My modules focus in particular on the cultural and intellectual history of that period.

"I have studied in France (Tours University) until the end of my undergraduate studies and in England (Royal Holloway University of London) for both my MA and PhD. My MA was in Renaissance and Early Modern History, and my PhD was in the broad area of the history of toleration, and the circulation and reception of clandestine literature."

What do you enjoy most about the subject of History, and why should students study it?

"What I find fascinating with history is the possibilities it provides to study all aspects of human life and behaviour. There is a history of science, of the family, of ideas, of smiling, of political life, of kings and queens, of the people, etc. It gives an opportunity for all to find the area that fascinates them the most about the past and to pursue its study."

What skills does studying History give you, and how can they help students in their careers? 

"History is a topic that helps foster a wide range of transferable skills that can be used in a variety of careers. These include things like critical analysis, research skills, writing skills, the ability to develop and present a coherent argument, and the ability to assess and select sources of information, among many others.

"The QAA Subject Benchmark statement for History (December 2014) also lists independence of mind, a questioning disposition, the ability to formulate and pursue clearly defined questions and enquiries, and imaginative insight and creativity as just some of the many attributes of a history graduate.

"These are key skills that will help students find their place in the work environment as a highly useful individual who will be able to take initiative, and find and select the information and material needed to take a project from its inception to its final form."

What kind of careers can students look forward to after graduating in History?

"History is a subject that allows students to go into a wide range of careers. While a lot of our students decide to go into primary or secondary teaching, some have also gone into law, politics, museum and heritage careers, and lecturing. History opens the door to an abundance of professions. Education, law, politics, media, heritage are just a few examples of these."

"You are taught by specialists in their area who teach their subject with passion."

What areas of History can students specialise in across the courses?

"We offer history from c.1500 to the 21st century. There are several strands in the degree that students can focus on: American history, British History, Early Modern History, History of Ideas, and European History. The different strands are supported by the research specialism of our team."

What kind of opportunities are there for students while they are studying?

"From their induction week, the students on the History degree are given access to the Sunderland Futures service through the Careers and Employability Service. There they can develop their employability skills and gain work and volunteering experience. The students can also decide to go abroad for a semester or a year through our exchange programme."

Why is the University of Sunderland a great place to study History?

"The University of Sunderland is a great place to study history because you are taught by specialists in their area who teach their subject with passion, and convey this passion to their students. It is an intimate department where students are well known by their lecturers who support them throughout their studies."

What resources and facilities do students have access to?

"The students have access to the great collection of books available through the Murray Library. The team members, alongside our dedicated liaison librarian, ensure that for all modules core and up-to-date books are available. In addition, through the library, the students have access to e-books, online resources, databases and journals to support their modules. Some offer access to secondary material (J-Stor) while others offer access to primary source material essential to the practice of history (Eighteenth Century Collection Online).

"The students also have access to our on-site archive NEEMARC (North East England Mining Archive and Research Centre). This allows students to gain first-hand experience of archives as early as their first semester of study. This is situated in the Murray Library Special Collection room. The students also have access to the Kate Adie collection with papers relating to her work as a journalist and to the Quaker collection."

Sunderland academic Dr Stuart Howard

NEEMARC was founded by Sunderland academic Dr Stuart Howard

What positive advice would you give to students thinking about studying History?

"History is a fascinating subject that helps one to understand the current world. It is also a discipline which allows for the development of a critical and inquisitive mind, and one that you will undoubtedly enjoy studying if you come to the University of Sunderland.