Bristol University
Bristol, BS8 1TB

See below for

The University and the City

The Department of Historical Studies


Degree courses and options


The University and the City

Bristol is one of the most attractive and historic cities in the UK. Until the early 19th century it was the most important city in England after London. There is a rich legacy of beautiful buildings ranging from the medieval churches in the old city to the Georgian terraces of Clifton and the famous suspension bridge across the Avon Gorge.

Today, Bristol is an important financial centre and new buildings combine with the old to create a pleasant environment in which to live, work and study. The city is well endowed with gardens and parkland and the overwhelming impression is of space and greenery. From the heart of the city there are beautiful views out to the countryside beyond, which can be reached in a matter of minutes.

Communications with other parts of the country are good: London can be reached in an hour and a half by train or two hours by coach. It is possible to travel to and from nearly every part of the world through Bristol airport, either direct or by changing at one of the major European centres such as Amsterdam.

The arts are flourishing, with opera, film, ballet, art galleries and music of every kind ranging from the classical to the modern. The Bristol Old Vic Company is based in the 18th-century Theatre Royal, close to the harbour. Nearby, in the city centre, the Hippodrome offers regular seasons of opera and ballet, major musicals and other popular shows. In addition, the Colston Hall offers a wide range of entertainment including classical and rock concerts. There is a lively local music scene in a variety of club and pub venues.

If you are interested in sport, Bristol has two league football teams and first class rugby union teams, as well as being the home of Gloucestershire Cricket Club.

In the areas of the city where you will probably live and study there is a large variety of restaurants, pubs and cafés serving the food of many nations at a range of prices.

University College, Bristol, founded in 1876, was the first institution in the United Kingdom to offer places to women to study in higher education on the same footing as men. The Bristol Medical School, founded in 1833, soon became associated with the College, and became part of it in 1893. In 1909 the College combined with the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College to become the University of Bristol, and was granted a Royal Charter.

The University is very much a part of the City. For most Bristolians the University is the Wills Memorial Building, with its great Gothic tower which dominates the city skyline, standing at the junction of Park Street and Queen’s Road, in a lively area of Bristol only four or five minutes’ walk from any point in the University precinct.

The Department of Historical Studies

The Department was founded in 1991 through the merger of the Departments of History and Economic and Social History. These departments were recognised by both the University Funding Council and the Economic and Social Research Council as centres of national excellence and the merger was designed to strengthen the research base still further. The Department currently has 27 members of staff. Over 300 students currently study for undergraduate degrees in the Department and around 50 postgraduates are currently studying for Masters and research degrees.

In addition to undergraduate lectures and seminars, there are many regular research seminars in the Department including a number of specialist topic-based series, a graduate work in progress seminar and the Medieval Studies seminar. Visiting speakers are also invited under the auspices of the undergraduate student Acton Society. The Department is linked to the local Historical Association which has produced an unparalleled number of pamphlets on local history. In the past few years, members of the Department have been awarded a series of research fellowships (by, for example, the British Academy, the ESRC, All Souls Oxford and Yale University), secured sizeable research grants from the ESRC, and won major historical awards for their publications.

The Department is located in the centre of the Arts Faculty complex in a series of inter-linked Victorian villas. It is adjacent to the Social Science Faculty and has a computer laboratory on its premises. It is part of the University's main precinct which includes the library and archives, the university bookshop, the computer centre and the refectory.


Entry requirements guidelines (2000): A Level grades BCC-ABB

UCAS application course codes. Load the free UCAS CD-Rom.
Tel. 01242 223707. E-mail.

UCAS address: Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ 

The details: History degree courses and options

The Department of Historical Studies offers you the opportunity to develop and extend your interests in history across a wide spectrum of subjects and approaches and through a variety of teaching formats. The research activities of the members of staff range from pagan religions to the Holocaust, from the French Revolution to guerrilla war in southern Africa, from medieval women to twentieth century economic development. This research feeds directly into the teaching programme.

Single Honours

There are three separate Single Honours Degrees.

History encompasses a wide variety of approaches to the past - political, economic, social, intellectual, cultural and environmental - and offers the opportunity to study different aspects and periods of British, European, American, African and Asian history.

Economic and Social History provides access to the same range of subjects and gives a priority for students to follow their economic and social history choices.

All students follow a broadly similar syllabus in the first year. While the focus is on historical issues and debates, students also acquire a number of basic skills which are necessary to develop a deeper historical understanding. These include basic IT competence; familiarity with documentary sources, and an awareness of the concepts and ideas which underlie economic and social history.

History with Study in French or German overlaps with the other degrees but has compulsory language elements. An extra year (the third of four) is spent at one of the European universities with which the Department has a SOCRATES exchange agreement: Bordeaux, Hannover or Giessen.

Joint Honours

Economic History can also be studied as a Joint Honours Degree in the Faculty of Social Sciences in conjunction with Economics, Philosophy or Sociology. In these degrees, the emphasis is on modern British and international economic history.

Teaching and Learning

At Bristol we recognise that historical understanding takes time to build and, in the main, subjects are studied across the year in two linked units rather than in short self-contained modules.

Small-group seminar-based learning is given particular emphasis. Broad Outline units comprise lectures and seminars, while Special units consist of weekly seminars and allow a narrower subject to be studied in depth with an increased input of primary sources. All students write independently researched projects in the first and final years. Final-year Single Honours students follow a short theme-based Option and can substitute a dissertation for their Outline unit.

Assessment. Examinations are held at the end of each year. Most first-year units are assessed on the basis of examination alone. In the final degree, at least 25 per cent of the mark for individual units is derived from assessed coursework.

Careers. Studying history provides an opportunity to acquire a range of personal and transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. Recent graduates have moved into a wide variety of occupations in law, management, finance, the media, teaching and local government.


13 Woodland Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1TB
Phone: (0117) 928 7934/36
Fax: (0117) 928 8276


For Departmental GENERAL OFFICE ENQUIRIES contact  


For the HISTORY DEGREE (including History with French or with German) contact