Politics and History BA

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Course starts: 16 September 2019Apply now

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Understand contemporary society by studying the past. Consider the development of political thought from a historical and a political perspective. Engage with current events in British and American Politics and the global war on terror.

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Politics and history are closely interconnected. For if politics is about power, then history records the struggle for power over time; and if politics is about our public values, then history records how these values have been forged.

You will study Politics and History under academic staff who are experts in their field, on a small and friendly course.

This course allows you to engage with history topics ranging from the 16th Century to the present day, giving you the foundations to understand and contextualise the political concepts that you will study on the course.   

You will also learn the democratic principles of liberalism, of the socialist challenge to liberal ideas, and some of the darker political events of the recent past including the Soviet gulags and the Nazi genocide; as well as engaging with current events in British and American politics and the global war on terror.

Why us?

  • ‘World-leading' research in History according to the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • Principal Lecturer Dr Simon Henig is currently Leader of Durham County Council
  • A unique approach to generic and employability skills and a stand-out student experience
  • Lecturers have extensive practical experience and engagement in politics

Course structure

A typical week will include lectures, seminars, workshops, group work, independent study and computer based research. Politics and History staff have developed a distinctive approach to the delivery of modules, one that is based around dialogue, active citizenship and a research active curriculum. It enables you to develop advocacy skills and increase your awareness of interpreting and understanding political and historical issues. We develop your capacity to sustain a reasoned line of argument in the face of others; to listen, to respect the views of others and to amend views in the light of argument and evidence.

Assessment methods include web-based exercises, archive exercise, time-limited essay tests, document exercises, book reviews, traditional essays, extended individual projects, individual and group presentations, poster presentations and formal (unseen paper) examinations. 

The study of Politics and History here at Sunderland involves participation in public matters. This is formalised in an assessed project where you will take up a matter of public concern in which you have a personal interest. Projects range from national matters, such as the policy on drugs, to local ones, such as the threat to a local health facility. The third year module, Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective allows for specialist presentation of staff research areas.

Year 1 (national level 4)

Core modules:

  • Introduction to Politics 1: Democracy and Tyranny (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Politics 2: British Politics since 1945 (20 credits)
  • Introduction to History (40 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • Introduction to American Studies (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Sociology (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • The Foundations of Modern Europe (20 credits)
  • The Transformation of Britain: British History since 1750 (20 credits)
  • English Cultural and Social History: 1500-1750 (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5)

Optional modules (choose three):

  • European Political Ideas (20 credits)
  • British Politics and Government (20 credits)
  • Protest and Terror (20 credits)
  • The American Century (20 credits)
  • Geographies of Social Exclusion (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose three):

  • Local and Regional History (20 credits)
  • Britain’s Age of Reform (20 credits)
  • Experiencing Twentieth Century Europe (20 credits)
  • History of Early Modern Political Thought (20 credits)
  • Special Project (20 credits)

Final year (national level 6)

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Mass Movements and Ideologies (20 credits)
  • From Labour To New Labour (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Issues In American Culture and Society (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Europe From Revolution to War (20 credits)
  • The English Working Class 1750-1950 (20 credits)
  • Northumbria in the Age of Bede (20 credits)
  • Heresy, Intolerance and Beyond: Early Modern Europe 1550-1765 (20 credits)
  • A Brave New World: Interwar Britain (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • Politics Dissertation (20 credits)
  • History Dissertation (20 credits)
  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • We’ve got thousands of History books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful for Historical Research MA include:

    • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers including bills, registers and journals
    • Early English Books Online, which provides digital images of virtually every work printed in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and British North America during 1473-1800
    • Eighteenth Century Collections Online, which provides 136,000 full-text publications from 1701-1800
    • Periodicals Archive Online, which provides digitised literary journals
    • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers, with full runs of 48 titles
    Library Services - history
  • The University’s Murray Library is home to the physical archive of the North East England Mining Archive and Resource Centre. This contains mining records, technical reports, trade union records and health and safety information.






    Mining Archive and Resource Centre
  • Map and directions


You'll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, situated on the award-winning St Peter's riverside campus. The location benefits from dedicated library services and has superb transport links with the city centre and City Campus.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 104 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award).

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Fees and finance

The annual, full-time fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an international student

The part-time fee for this course is £6,935 per 120 credits.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


On successful completion of the course you will have the knowledge and skills necessary to enter a wide range of professions including local government, teaching, public relations and positions in the heritage industry.

Graduates often go on to become politically active in non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as political researchers and councillors. Many of our graduates also choose to continue their studies at masters and PhD level.

Career options

You will be well suited to careers that involve developing policy and weighing up policy options: undertaking research, developing and presenting position papers, and writing analytical reports. These skills are sought after in many professions including those found in local government, NGOs and charities, think tanks, research work for political parties, liaison work between corporations and with public bodies, careers in media and in public relations. Students who wish to go on to undertake a teaching qualification have the knowledge basis for combining the teaching of history and citizenship.

History Lab

History Lab is a student-run society which organises history-related guest lectures, discussions, and social events.

It’s a chance to hear about little-known histories. Recent topics include; Political Caricatures in 19th Century France, Pharmacy in Ancient Egypt, and Sedition in 17th Century America.

Research-active staff

You’ll be taught by a dynamic, diverse team of research-active staff whose research interests include the history of early modern political thought, resisting tyranny, local history, political ideology, political constituencies, the history of trade unionism, affirmative action, gun control and suicide.

Meet the team

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