BA English and History 

Course code: QV31
Duration: 3 years

Entry requirements
Tuition fee information

English and history are natural partners. By studying them together you will gain historical skills that can help you to understand the context in which great works of literature were written and the developments that contributed to the evolution of the English Language. You’ll also gain important analytical skills that will serve you well in the study of historical sources.

We have around 40 members of academic staff, teaching and researching in ancient, medieval, early modern, modern and contemporary history. Our historians address themes including society and culture, politics, religion, gender and the history of violence and peace, in Britain, Europe, America and the wider world. This provides you with the ideal environment to develop your historical research skills and explore your individual areas of interest as well as developing a broad range of transferable skills to help you prepare for your future. 

Along the way you'll gain skills that help you to identify and analyse relevant bodies of research. You'll learn to exercise independent judgement and be critical of accepted opinion and you will develop effective written and verbal communication skills that will enable you to present your findings to a variety of audiences.

We offer full coverage of the history of English Literature, from the earliest works to the present day. Similarly, our modules in English Language will allow you to study the history of the language, from Old and Middle English right up to the modern English period, where you can look at language variation, use, and its acquisition by children.

The English element of your degree will allow you to focus on an English Language or Literature ‘pathway’ through your course, or you may wish to take modules from across the full range of English studies. You do not need to decide this until you come to Sheffield.

If you choose the Literature pathway, there is a diverse list of option modules is also available in which you can analyse poetry, watch films, study plays or immerse yourself in modern fiction. Sheffield focuses on the study of British literature, but you will also encounter a subject which is both canonical and diverse. Modules are refreshed every year, and current options cover a wide variety of topics such as American literature, postcolonial fiction, the writing of the holocaust, Irish poetry, Gothic fiction, Australian cinema, eighteenth century satire, Renaissance lyrics, African-American writing, sports autobiography.

If you choose the English Language pathway, you will be able to gain a solid foundation in linguistic theory, and link this theory to the huge array of real-life contexts in which language is used. Over the course of your degree, you will have the opportunity to tailor your own study by developing this theoretical knowledge as well as taking modules in areas such as literary linguistics, language teaching pedagogy, other languages and sociolinguistics.

More about our academics and their research areas

How it works



Our teaching and assessment system is modular, meaning that across all three years you can tailor your course to suit you. You will have core modules at each level of your degree: these help you to develop your skills and give you a strong foundation for your historical knowledge. Our wide range of option modules give you the opportunity to complement your core learning by specialising in the topics that interest you most. These option modules offer a wide chronological and geographical coverage of history from the ancient world to the modern day and reflect a variety of approaches and methodologies, so you can choose to focus on themes such as political, social, cultural or religious history.


Each year you will take 120 credits. This is normally split into 60 credits in the autumn semester and 60 credits in the spring semester. You will normally spend an equal amount of time and credits in each subject. Most History modules are 20 credits each, although some specialist modules at level three are worth 40 credits.

Major/Minor option - you can choose to specialise more in one subject by dividing your degree so that one third (40 credits) is the minor subject and two thirds (80 credits) are the major subject. You do not need to decide before arriving in Sheffield and have the option to change the major/minor balance - or switch back to a 50:50 split - when choosing your modules for each year of the degree.

More information about Dual Honours and Major/Minors

Year one

Getting you started

The first year programme is designed to help you to make the transition from studying History at school or college to studying it at degree level. It introduces you to core academic skills and provides a solid grounding in historical study and research, giving you the foundations you'll need to deepen your understanding of historical events and processes throughout your degree and setting you off on the path to becoming an independent historian.

Our first year option modules introduce you to our main areas of teaching and research and give you insight into what you can study in the coming years, so that you can better shape your degree to your individual interests.

You will take three core modules (60 credits) and have 60 credits available to use on option modules. You will choose at least one history option module.





History Workshop

Gives you the confidence to step up to university-level history by teaching a range of skills through engagement with real historical questions and introducing you to our historians' research at an early stage.

20 Core History
Students who are taking the Literature pathway:
You will take the following module:      
Renaissance to Revolution 40 Core English
Students who are taking the English Language pathway:
Sounds of English 10 Core English
Structure of English 10 Core English
You will choose one of the following three modules      
Varieties of English 20 Core (choose 1 of 3) English
History of English 20 Core (choose 1 of 3) English
Linguistic Theory 20 Core (choose 1 of 3) English
Paths from Antiquity to Modernity 20 Option History
Four of the below five history options will be available each year:      
Empire: From the Ancient World to the Middle Ages 20 Option History
The 'Disenchantment' of Early Modern Europe, c. 1570-1770 20 Option  History
The Making of the Twentieth Century 20 Option  History
American History: From Settlements to Superpower (not running in 2019-20) 20 Option  History
The Transformation of Britain, 1800 to the Present 20 Option  History

A range of English option modules.

20 each Option English

Want to try something new?

The flexible structure of your first year at Sheffield means that you also have the chance to experience modules from across the University - you can choose up to 40 credits of modules from a list approved by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Our students regularly take modules in topics such as languages, Archaeology, journalism, sociology and politics alongside their History modules.

Year two

Building your skills and knowledge

Your second year builds on what you've learnt so far, furthering your knowledge in areas of history that you have already encountered and introducing you to new and exciting topics. A wide range of modules will help you to explore new areas and discover where your main interests lie ahead of your final year. 

These modules will not only help you mature as a historian, challenge assumptions and appreciate the bigger picture, they will also develop professional skills of analysis, judgement and communication.

We want your degree to be coherent, so our core module continues to give you a strong foundation for your historical knowledge. You will take a minimum of 40 credits and a maximum of 80 credits of history. You can choose a maximum of one document option.





Historians and History

Introduces you to some of the most significant and influential developments that have shaped the way historians think and write about the past and helps you develop a more critical approach to the secondary literature that you will engage with through your degree.

20 Core History
Students who are taking the Literature pathway:
You will take a minimum of 40 core credits within the School of English. (You might choose to take one or both of the following core modules in its entirety, or you might take 20 credits from each core module in the Autumn semester.)      
Romanticism to Modernism 20/40 Core, choose 20 or 40 credit option English
Literature and Critical Thought 20/40 Core, choose 20 or 40 credit option English
Students who are taking the English Language pathway:
Choose a minimum of two from a range of English Language modules 20 Core (choose 2) English
Writing History (not available to students minoring in History) 20 Option History
Document Options 20 Option History
Options 20 Option  History

A range of English option modules.

20 each Option English

We want you to continue to have flexibility, so you can choose at least 20 credits of modules from another department, subject to the approval of the Department.

Final year

Developing your expertise

Your final year is where you can choose to focus on one of the areas of history that you're most passionate about, using the academic skills and historical knowledge that you have acquired in years one and two to undertake focussed primary source research.

All students have the opportunity to take a Special Subject and a dissertation, as we think that they are important staples of a History degree. These modules give you the chance to explore your chosen topic in detail, alongside a leading expert in the field, helping you to further develop your knowledge and research skills. The unusually wide-ranging research expertise at Sheffield means that, with modules focusing on themes such as gender and domesticity; art; war and violence; cultural change; medicine and science, you'll be spoilt for choice.

You will take a minimum of 40 credits and a maximum of 80 credits of history. You can choose a maximum of one special subject and one comparative option. There are two dissertation options available. All students can choose to take a 20 credit dissertation. Students who wish to major in History can choose to take a 40 credit dissertation, in this case the 40 credit dissertation must be taken in combination with a Special Subject.






Thematic Options 20 Option 1 History
The Uses of History 20 Option 2 History
Dissertation (short) 20 Option 2 History
Dissertation (long) (only available to students majoring in History and when taken in combination with a Special Subject) 40 Option 1 and 2 History
Special Subjects 40 Option 1 and 2 History
Students who are taking the Literature pathway:
There are no core English Literature modules in the third year. You will take a minimum of 40 credits of optional modules within the School of English. Find out more about modules on the English Literature pathway and on the English Language .

Students who are taking the English Language pathway:

There are no core English Language modules in the third year. You will take a minimum of 40 credits of optional modules within the School of English. Find out more about modules on the English Language pathway.

Teaching and learning

You will experience a variety of teaching by leading historians who bring their award-winning research to life.

This will include regular lecturers and seminars complemented by individual tutorials and supervision sessions. We firmly believe in the importance of high-quality, small group teaching so your seminars will be including a maximum of 12 students in the first year and 16 students in the second and final year.

As you progress through your degree these seminars will become more important - the Special Subject is taught through 4 hours of seminar each week throughout the full academic year.

Our campus and how we use it:

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.

Academic support

Your academic and personal development is important to us.  

Our personal and level tutor system ensures that you have a wide range of support and advice available to you whenever you need it. This is complemented by a wide range of support across the University.

Your academic tutors will also be available to discuss your learning and assessment in their office hours, which they hold each week during term-time.


We use a range of assessment, including coursework, exams and presentations, all designed to help you develop a wide variety of professional skills.

As you progress, your assessment will include more analysis of primary sources and you will further develop your research, analytical and academic writing skills through independent research projects.

year one year two final year

A summary of learning and assessment information across all years of the degree is available on the 'Learning and Assessment' tab of the University's online prospectus.

Witness ProjectPersonalise your degree

Get the most out of your degree by getting involved with student projects, gaining work experience or spending time studying abroad.

You can apply to gain practical experience by spending a year in industry with the Degree with Employment Experience or you can take advantage of opportunities available through the History Society and the Careers Service.

You can also apply to spend time studying abroad through our Erasmus and Study Abroad programmes.

Please note that the ability to study abroad or undertake a work placement is not guaranteed, it is subject to availability and academic progress. If you’re interested in studying abroad, you’ll be able to apply after you arrive in Sheffield.

Student projects

Studying history at Sheffield also gives you the opportunity to get involved in a range of exciting extra-curricular activities, helping you to engage with history in new ways and get even more out of your student experience.

These activities can also help you to enhance your CV by gaining valuable transferable skills and experience in areas such as interviewing, film-making, and working with school children.

Find out more

Work experience

Spending a year in employment as part of your degree is an excellent opportunity to put your skills and knowledge to practical use and gain experience that will help you in your future career. There are lots of year-long placements available in the UK, as well as opportunities around the world.

If you don't want to add an additional year to your degree programme then you can gain experience and build your CV through applying to our summer placements scheme or one of our OnCampus placements.


Find out more

Study abroad and Erasmus

Join us and you'll be able to apply to spend time studying abroad as part of your degree.

The University's study abroad scheme gives you the opportunity to spend a year studying in the USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Our Departmental links include France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.

Find out more

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have, or expect to achieve, AAB in three A Levels typically including History or Classical Civilisation. Please see the University's online prospectus for full entry requirement details. This includes information about Access Sheffield for applicants who are eligible for additional consideration or an alternative offer. If you have a question, or would like to discuss your individual qualifications, just get in touch.

Online prospectus 2020 Access Sheffield Common questions Email us


Alternative routes and additional support information 

Returning to education and don't have the usual qualifications?

Our BA English and History with Foundation Year might be the degree you're looking for. It is specially designed for mature learners who have been out of education for some time and haven't previously accessed higher education. Find out more

Information for disabled students

We're committed to responding effectively and appropriately to individual support needs. Find out more.


*Please note that the course details set out here may change before you start, particularly if you are applying significantly in advance of the course start date. The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.