Looking Ahead. History, Politics and Social Studies. A guide to studying these subjects at university and your opportunities afterwards

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1 11 Subjects inside include: American and European studies, childhood studies, history, international development and relations, politics and sociology Looking Ahead History, Politics and Social Studies A guide to studying these subjects at university and your opportunities afterwards

2 Subject overview History, politics, sociology and related social sciences are all about studying and explaining a wide range of current and past events, so that we can better appreciate and perhaps influence the society we live in. It s important to remember that these subject areas are vast, so course content may vary between different universities and institutions, who also often offer courses combining two specialist areas. So it will be important to do your research to make sure you find the right course for you. There are also area studies courses for those interested in countries but who are nonlinguists, with many offering options to spend time studying abroad. There are many courses on offer around the country. Here are some examples of history, politics and social studies courses at the University of Portsmouth: Area studies American Studies American Studies and History English and American Studies European Studies and International Relations International Development Studies International Development Studies and Languages Education Childhood and Youth Studies Childhood and Youth Studies with Psychology Early Childhood Studies Early Childhood Studies with Psychology History English and History History History and Politics Politics and international relations International Relations International Relations and History International Relations and Languages International Relations and Politics Politics Sociology Sociology Sociology and Criminology Choosing a history, politics or social studies course Look out for: 2 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead History, Politics and Social Studies Sociology and Media Studies Sociology with Psychology Please check for courses available across the UK and for up-to-date information on Portsmouth courses. Subjects covered on the course for example, is the focus on ancient or modern history, or are there opportunities to cover both? Every university will be different, so it s vital you find the right combination of topics for you. Whether or not your education course leads to qualified teacher status (QTS) if you are interested in becoming a teacher. If it doesn t, ensure you know about the additional training required after your first degree. National Student Survey (NSS) statistics show whether students graduating from their course have been happy with the course, facilities and support provided during their studies. This can be found through your chosen university s website. Employment statistics for graduates, which can be found on your chosen university s website, via their careers service or at Additional features of the course such as work placements, study abroad options, optional units, extended projects and enterprise opportunities.

3 The course What will you study? During your time at university, you will study your chosen subject in depth. Universities usually run a number of compulsory or core topics for each course, which everyone studies in order to gain understanding of the key areas. There will also be optional topics from which you select according to your interests and how you want to specialise within your course. Units vary depending on the university. Below are a few examples of core and optional units for history, politics and social studies courses at the University of Portsmouth: Core units: depending on the course, you could study current political issues and topics such as empires and identities , society and culture at twentieth century Europe, modernity and globalisation, risk and society, spectacular Hollywood or diversity and inclusion. Optional units: Russian and Eurasian politics, European colonisation in Africa, animals and society, Civil Rights USA or digital natives are just some examples from our courses. The optional units tend to reflect the research interests of the lecturers, so it s worth investigating this to check their interests match your own. How will you study? Lesson type History, politics and social studies courses are usually taught using a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. Contact time This will vary depending on the course, but you re likely to spend about 19 per cent of your week in lectures and seminars. This decreases as you progress and spend more time working independently. Assessment methods You will usually be assessed through a combination of coursework, essays, examinations, presentations, seminar participation and peer collaboration. Further information for the universities you are considering can be found via the university websites, Unistats at or Which? University at History, Politics and Social Studies Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 3

4 Getting a place Key skills and qualities required for these subjects Skills Critical thinking, good communication, and analytical and research skills are important to succeed in these subject areas. Qualities Qualities relate more to your personality. Intellectual curiosity and an interest in current affairs and the impact of social, historical and political issues will help you with your studies. You should also enjoy doing your own research and be happy to work in groups or under your own initiative. Qualifications As for all degree courses, you will usually need at least five GCSEs grade A* C including English and maths. You will also need Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, International Baccalaureate (IB) or BTEC. A background in history to A Level or equivalent is required for most history degrees. Subjects are not always specified for other courses, but good grades and relevant qualifications will help you gain a place. Top tips for a successful application Show an active and genuine interest in your subject refer to research and hot topics you have investigated. Refer to relevant work experience or volunteering you have gained. Explain what you have gained from these experiences and how it has aided your understanding of the subject. Discuss trips you have been on, perhaps to museums, exhibitions or public lectures. If you have completed a relevant extended project during your A Levels, discuss this in your application. Explain what you have learnt and gained from the project. For the universities you are applying to, read the entry information included within the course information on the UCAS and university websites carefully. This will often show what sort of person they are looking for. Refer to hobbies and interests you hope to continue at university through the clubs and societies offered via the Students Union; this will show how you hope to become a member of the university community. 4 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead History, Politics and Social Studies

5 What to do next Unlike at school and college, university courses do not always have a set curriculum and can therefore vary widely in their content. Look carefully at the course content of the universities you are considering to make sure they cover the topics you are most interested in. Compare universities on a range of factors including employability, student satisfaction, assessment methods and lecturer contact time using the Key Information Sets (KIS) which can be found on each university s website or via Read widely, particularly magazines or websites that relate to your chosen area. Visit museums, attend exhibitions and conferences, watch documentaries and be aware of current hot topics. Get involved in clubs and societies at your school/college. For example, you could join the debating society or history club. If your school doesn t have one, you could show your initiative by starting one yourself. Where to find out more The Historical Association: information, publications and events about history at British Sociological Association: information, publications and events about sociology at Political Studies Association: information, publications and events about politics at Uni info: a site where students share academic and social knowledge at and a website that provides university and course reviews at UCAS: Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for information about university courses and the application process at Demonstrate your communication skills and interest in society by getting some experience of working with the public. If you re interested in an education course, familiarise yourself with current education policy and issues. You could also contact your local council to see if they have any opportunities for you to get involved or volunteer at your local school. Take up an extracurricular hobby/ activity such as playing a sport or musical instrument, joining a society or participating in award schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. This shows you are a well-rounded person. History, Politics and Social Studies Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 5

6 Where could you work? Careers in archiving, archaeology, education and research, museums, antiques, heraldry and genealogy are traditionally linked with history. If you re interested in a specialist profession of this kind, you will normally need to obtain a relevant postgraduate qualification after your first degree. Typical employers include libraries, public record offices, museums, galleries, universities, heritage agencies, charities, auction houses and insurance companies. If you have chosen a degree in politics or international relations, you may be interested in becoming a local councillor, politician s assistant, government research officer, charity officer or diplomat, or working for the European Commission. Politics or international relations graduates sometimes also enter the highly competitive Civil Service Fast Stream programme, which enables them to experience work in a wide range of departments and gain responsibility very quickly. 6 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead History, Politics and Social Studies Careers in social research, counselling, community development, careers advice, teaching, probation and charity work are options for sociology graduates. Again, many of these areas will require you to undergo further training after your first degree. The NHS, local education authorities, counselling and voluntary organisations and charities are just some examples of organisations that would typically employ sociology graduates. If you re interested in becoming a social worker, take a look at booklet 10 of this series, Health Sciences and Social Work. Graduates of education courses often work in education and training, careers advice, youth work, healthcare and health promotion, social work, the police and the voluntary sector. If you re thinking about becoming a teacher in a state-maintained UK school, you will need to do either a first degree which includes the qualified teacher status (QTS) or a PGCE after your first degree. Transferable skills Don t forget that a degree in any of these subjects will give you desirable transferable skills. You will develop your teamwork, communication, problem solving, selfmotivation and time management skills, making you highly employable in a wide range of careers outside those already mentioned. In fact, it is estimated that 60 per cent of employers looking to recruit a graduate (someone with a degree qualification) do not mind what your degree is in, just that you have that level of qualification.

7 What do our history, politics and social studies students go on to do? Each year we gather statistics to identify what our students are doing six months after graduating. Many find work, continue studying or even take time out to travel. Here are the statistics for our history, politics and social studies students who graduated in 2013: Destination 67% Employed 19.4% Further study 0.8% Volunteering 6.4% Unemployed 6.4% Other Please note, these statistics (in line with national requirements) are gathered just six months after students graduate; employment prospects often change and improve greatly over the following few years. Find out more through the What do graduates do? publication at Here are a few examples of careers followed by our students: BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies Senior Family Support Worker BA (Hons) Sociology Graduate PR Trainee BA (Hons) International Relations and Politics Democratic Service Officer Historic Properties Adviser BA (Hons) History Museum Officer History, Politics and Social Studies Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 7

8 Contact us Education Liaison and Outreach Team University of Portsmouth T: St Andrew s Court E: St Michael s Road W: Portsmouth PO1 2PR Disclaimer Please be aware, this is not a course leaflet, it is a guide for university. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication at the time of going to press (April 2015). However, you are advised that this information could be subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to and for University of Portsmouth courses, please refer to our website Accessibility If this document is in a format inaccessible to you, contact us and we will provide the information in a more suitable format. Please PDF versions of this leaflet and others in the series are also available on our website at Titles in the series 01. Accounting, Economics and Finance 02. Architecture, Property and Surveying 03. Art and Design 04. Biological Sciences 05. Business and Management 06. Computing and Creative Technologies 07. Engineering 08. English, Film, Journalism and Media 09. Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences 10. Health Sciences and Social Work 11. History, Politics and Social Studies 12. Law and Criminology 13. Mathematics and Physics 14. Modern Languages and Area Studies 15. Psychology 16. Sports Science MD

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