History and Politics BA

2025-26 entry
Department of History
Department of Politics and International Relations

This degree combination equips you with the skills to flourish as both a historian and a political analyst, enabling you to develop your knowledge of critical historical events and themes. You’ll develop expertise at working with historical sources and think about how we study the past, applying this to the exciting and expansive range of periods researched by the experts in the Department of History.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    POL - Students taking notes win Elmfield lecture theatre (sociology students)

    Explore social and political events of the past in order to understand the world we live in today - and anticipate the issues of tomorrow.

    In order to better understand the current social and political climate, we must look back on events and historical actors that have shaped how people and states interact. Study past societies from 1000 BCE to the 21st century, exploring political, social, economic and cultural themes from around the globe - laying the historical context necessary for you to engage with the politics of the UK, EU and across the globe.

    Using case studies and exploring political theories, you’ll develop and demonstrate your views and explain what can be done to address some of the big issues affecting society today - from food poverty to climate change to free speech.

    Over three years, you’ll gain a host of transferable skills and knowledge that suit a huge range of careers - from local, national, and international government, to the charitable sector and the media.

    Why study this course?

    • Top 10 for International relations - according to The Guardian University Guide 2024.
    • History Research-led Special Subject - in your final year, explore the details of your favourite area of history in small seminar groups and with a true expert on the topic, and become a specialist in your chosen area.
    • Quality teaching time in smaller seminars - core to our teaching ethos, every history module includes a seminar with 12-16 people.

    Dual and combined honours degrees

    History students in a seminar

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

    Title: History and Politics BA course structure
    UCAS code: VL12
    Years: 2022, 2023
    First year

    For history, 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. Building your confidence and broadening your knowledge.

    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 history 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 one core module and have 40 credits available to use on option modules.

    For politics, your first year is made up of a core module and two optional modules from the table below.

    History core module:

    History Workshop

    What does it take to be a historian? In this module, you will study the process of historical research, learning discipline-specific methods and essential study and writing skills through close engagement with a historical text (usually a work of narrative non-fiction) linked to your tutor's research interests. You will develop skills in critical reading, historiography, essay writing, bibliographic techniques, and reflection.

    The assessment for this module is aimed at giving you a strong foundation in the skills you will need throughout your degree and beyond: critical reading and writing, bibliographic techniques, and the ability to reflect on and articulate your skills as a historian.

    20 credits

    History option module examples:

    Empire: From the Ancient World to the Middle Ages

    Covering the period from the 4th century BC to the 15th century AD, this module invites students to explore the ancient and medieval worlds through the lens of 'empire'. It provides an introduction to ancient and medieval types of empire, their contacts with and legacies to each other, and the connectedness between East and West in this period. Using a wealth of primary evidence and drawing on corresponding historiographical debates, students explore what it meant to live in ancient and medieval empires, what kind of social, cultural and religious encounters they engendered, and whether there was any space for resistance.

    20 credits
    Land of Liberty? Rights in the USA, 1776-2016

    In 1776, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that men were created with 'certain unalienable rights'. Yet the new United States denied those rights to large swathes of its people. Examining themes which resonate powerfully today, this module explores American history as a struggle over how rights have been defined and debated, expanded and contracted, and secured and denied. Linking the history of ideas to the efforts of ordinary people, we will look at debates over liberty and slavery, democracy and disenfranchisement, capital and labour, integration and
    segregation, gender and sexuality, nationalism and internationalism, and conservatism and liberalism.

    20 credits
    Paths from Antiquity to Modernity

    The aim of this module is to introduce you to the broad structures of Western history from the end of the Roman Empire to the present day. It provides students intending to take History Single or Dual Honours degree modules with a common framework for the more detailed modules that you will be studying at Levels Two and Three. At the same time, it provides non-historians with a fundamental appraisal of the shape of the past, to which courses in other departments will readily relate. Our aim is to equip you with an understanding of the periodisation of western history and of the major transitions in the process of modernisation. In the process, you will become more critically aware of the essential conceptual tools that modern historians readily use to analyse the past. The module aims to provide the essential training in the skills and methods needed for University level historical study.

    20 credits
    The 'Disenchantment' of Early Modern Europe, c. 1570-1770

    This module explores the fundamental shifts in mental attitudes and public behaviour that occurred in Europe between the age of the Reformation and the age of the Enlightenment. The central focus of the course will be the examination of the supernatural - religious beliefs, but also witchcraft and magic. You will explore the changing ways in which beliefs impinged on people's lives at various social levels. You will also have an opportunity to study the impact on people's world views of such changes as rising literacy, urbanisation, state formation and new discoveries about the natural world. All these will be investigated in the institutional contexts of state and church and the ways in which they sought to channel and mould beliefs and behaviour. This module enables you to understand how the early modern period is distinctive from and links medieval and later modern historical studies.

    20 credits
    The Making of the Twentieth Century

    This module considers the twentieth century as a time that transformed the social and political order in the world, calling into question the role of the European powers in global contexts, and dramatically reorienting the relationship between states and societies. You will engage with case studies representing key themes in twentieth-century global history: imperialism and the processes of decolonisation; the challenges of building the postcolonial nation; revolutions and the emergence of new states; war, genocide and conflict; and the institutions of international order.

    In addressing these themes, The Making of the Twentieth Century has a particular aim of counteracting prevailing tendencies towards Eurocentrism.  You will gain a considerable body of knowledge on the histories of Asia, Africa and Latin America especially.  At the same time, emphasis is placed on the empirical and theoretical grounds upon which competing interpretations rest in order to encourage you to develop critical awareness of the character of historical analysis.  More generally, this module aims to develop analytical, conceptual and literary skills through class discussion and written assignments.  Communication skills will also be emphasised in weekly seminars that will allow specific issues to be discussed in more depth, often with reference to primary source material.  Above all, the module seeks to stimulate an interest in history and an appreciation of cultural diversity.

    20 credits
    The Transformation of the United Kingdom, 1800 to the Present

    This module explores the central political, social, economic, cultural and diplomatic developments that have transformed Britain since 1800. Unlike most of its European neighbours, Britain did not experience dramatic moments of revolution, constitution-building, invasion or military defeat; indeed the belief that the nation was set on a course of gradual evolutionary progress was central to many versions of British identity. This course examines how, when and why change occurred in Britain. Key themes include the transition to mass democracy; the impact of industrialisation; shifts in social relationships based on class, gender and ethnicity; and the rise and fall of Britain as an imperial power.

    20 credits

    Politics core module:

    Political Analysis 1: An Introduction to Research and Scholarship

    This module introduces students to the study of politics as an academic discipline. More specifically, it involves discovering different ways to research the dynamics of the political worlds around us. Students will simultaneously develop a range of independent study skills whilst acquiring the foundational knowledge and skills needed to build, test and evaluate rigorous accounts of political problems. Students will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and independent study, and they will be assessed based on one reflective portfolio and an exam.

    20 credits

    Politics option module examples:

    British Politics

    This module will introduce students to key concepts and debates in British politics through an examination of post-1976 British political history. Each lecture will take as its starting-point one day in recent British history and will describe what happened on that day and what happened as a result of that day. Each of the seminars will then follow that discussion: paying particular attention to concepts and ideas within the study of politics which can help us make sense of those events.

    20 credits
    Gender and the World

    This module aims to interrogate the role of gender and sex in shaping world politics. To do this, it asks how notions of masculinity and femininity shape our institutions, how gender might influence the political problems we prioritise and whose voices are taken seriously in developing responses to these problems. 

    Students will answer these questions through the study of the politicisation of sex, the relationship between gender and violence, how current practices of gender are shaped by colonialism and a range of other timely topics that shape the world today. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of different approaches to gender, be introduced to key concepts from feminism and queer theory, learn to apply these ideas practically to a set of case studies and debate what the future of gender is in world politics. 

    20 credits
    Introduction to Global Political Economy

    This module provides an introduction to global political economy (GPE). It covers key mainstream and critical theories and considers critically what GPE is. Following this, the main focus will be on sketching the outlines of the global economy (past and present) by considering particular commodities. This provides a novel way to introduce the student to the major processes of global trade, finance and production. It also considers the political economy of race, class and gender as core theoretical themes that interweave the empirical examination of the global political economy, from roughly 1500 through to the 21st century.

    20 credits
    Introduction to Western Political Thought

    This module provides an introduction to key themes and thinkers in Western political thought. It explores the different meanings of the nature of politics and the political in this tradition. One key theme will be the relation between human nature and politics. This will be explored through a series of deep conflicts between reason and desire, the state and individual, and the public and private. These conflicts are examined through the different visions of politics of a selection of ancient and early modern thinkers. The module will also engage with critiques of the canon of Western political thought itself, in particular from a postcolonial perspective.

    20 credits
    Planet Politics

    From the atmosphere to Antarctic ice sheets, the Earth has been fundamentally transformed by human activity: we now inhabit a ‘human planet’. At the same time, from mining and agriculture to modern patterns of resource consumption, humankind has become dependent on the very activities that have caused these transformations. 

    Far from being automatic or inevitable, these transformations are deeply political on multiple levels – in their causes, in their consequences, and in the many arguments and differences over how to respond to them. 

    This module will introduce students to some of this ‘Planet Politics’. It will consider questions such as: 

    Are we on the verge of a planetary ecological crisis? 

    Is capitalism the problem, or the solution? 

    Are there just too many people? 

    Is meaningful international environmental cooperation possible? 

    What are the vested interests obstructing change? What forms of social resistance are appropriate? 

    What is ‘environmental justice’? 

    Examining both key environmental and resource issues and the main approaches to studying them, the module asks some of the biggest questions about life: how should we live, and what should we do?

    20 credits
    Political Violence

    This module will provide students with an introduction to political violence and begins by engaging with debates over the conceptualisation of violence, and when violence should be understood as “political”.  It will then introduce students to debates over the causes and consequences of violence through an examination of specific topics, which may include:

    histories of violence

    terrorism

    interstate war

    settler-colonial violence

    structural violence

    slow violence

    gender based violence

    war ecologies

    the politics of violence prevention

    violent resistance

    attempts to regulate violence.  



    We will explore these themes by asking how violence is refracted through race, gender, ethnicity, and other forms of social difference. Students will have the opportunity to explore these topics through specific examples and develop the necessary skills to apply them in practice. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of the key theories, concepts, issues and themes in the study of political violence by:

    understanding the debates on the conceptualisation of “violence” and what makes violence “political”

    developing skills in critical analysis, writing, and presentation

    developing the ability to apply theories and issues to specific cases of political violence

    20 credits
    Race and Racism in World Politics

    Through historical and contemporary case studies, students will study how our world today has been shaped by historical events, many of which continue to inform current relations. We will discover how discourses around race, ethnicity, gender and class construct realities today, determining who rules and who is ruled, who lives and who dies. 

    The module will give students a theoretical toolkit, including approaches from the majority world, enabling them to appreciate power and the political significance of silences in accounts of the global and political.

    We will learn about the historical production of the idea of race; how it configured the world in particular ways; how race mandated the colonial project. However, the module will also go beyond race to think about colonialism and the identities that operate in conjunction with race including class, ethnicity, and gender, and how they can determine what type of life people can live or whether they can live at all. For example, they determine whether a child has the right to security, or has to risk losing life in the Mediterranean escaping violence at home. 

    Students will also learn about resistance and efforts to construct a different and more just world. Through rich historical and contemporary case studies, students will learn how to connect theories to understand current affairs, drawing on thinkers from various backgrounds to counter some of the dominant narratives within international relations.

    20 credits
    The World's Wicked Problems

    This module will introduce students to key international relations concepts and discussions. Students will be able to understand, analyse and reflect on some of  the most pressing issues in the international arena including: 

    migration

    climate change

    poverty and global inequalities

    sexual violence 

    armed conflict 

    This introductory module will equip students with the tools to continue engaging with more in-depth theoretical and empirical international relations discussions as they progress through their studies.

    20 credits

    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.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    You'll learn through a mix of interactive lectures and lively discussion-based seminars. Research is central to the student experience here in Sheffield and all our teaching is informed by the latest findings. In your final year, you'll have the opportunity to take our Special Subject module, which allows you to spend a year specialising in a topic that really interests you.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    Our internationally renowned tutors offer modules spanning four thousand years and criss-crossing continents - allowing you to explore great events, extraordinary documents, remarkable people, and long-lasting transformations, from the ancient period to the modern day and across the globe.

    Assessment

    You’ll be assessed through a variety of methods. As well as traditional essays and exams, our degrees include innovative assessments where you’ll write seminar diaries and reflective work, give presentations and design online historical artefacts in mediums such a blogs, podcasts or websites. This broadens your experience and the wide range of transferable skills you’ll develop during your degree.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    AAB
    typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    ABB, typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation + B in a relevant EPQ; ABB, typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    34, typically with 6 in Higher Level History
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDM in a relevant subject + A at A Level typically in History or Classical Civilisation
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + A at A Level typically in History or Classical Civilisation
    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher
    AAABB + A typically in History
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AA, typically including History or Classical Civilisation
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction (to include History units), and 9 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    ABB
    typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    ABB, typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation + B in a relevant EPQ; ABB, typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    33, typically with 6 in Higher Level History
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDM in a relevant subject + A at A Level typically in History or Classical Civilisation
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + A at A Level typically in History or Classical Civilisation
    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher
    AABBB + A typically in History
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AB, typically including A in History or Classical Civilisation
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction (to include History units), and 15 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    English language requirements

    You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Graduate careers

    Department of History

    Our history graduates are highly skilled in research, critical reasoning and communication. You'll be able to think and write coherently, to put specific matters in a broader context, and to summarise complex ideas in a discerning and creative way.

    Our graduates have gone on to become successful lawyers, marketing executives, civil servants, accountants, management consultants, university lecturers, archivists, librarians and workers in museums, tourism and the heritage industry.

    So, however you choose to use your degree, the combination of academic excellence and personal skills developed and demonstrated on your course will make you stand out in an increasingly competitive graduate world.

    Companies that have employed our graduates include Accenture, Ernst and Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and DLA Piper. You'll also find our graduates in organisations ranging from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to the Imperial War Museum and the National Archives, to BBC online and The Guardian.

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    A politics degree from Sheffield can set you apart from everyone else. You'll have many opportunities across all levels of your course to add valuable work experience and transferable skills to your CV.

    Our degree programmes are designed so you can tailor your course to your own interests and career aspirations. They also provide a foundation to go on to work in a wide range of professional, political and administrative organisations across the world, in local, national, and international government, the charitable sector, education, the media, public relations, research and the private sector.

    Department of History

    As a history student at Sheffield, you'll develop your understanding of the past in a friendly and supportive environment.

    Our internationally-renowned tutors offer modules spanning four thousand years and criss-crossing continents - allowing you to explore great events, extraordinary documents, remarkable people, and long-lasting transformations, from the ancient period to the modern day and across the globe.

    You can tailor your course to suit you, discovering the areas of history that most inspire you most while preparing for the future you want with opportunities like studying abroad, work placements and volunteering.

    Department of History students are based in the Jessop West building at the heart of the university campus, close to the Diamond and the Information Commons. We share the Jessop West Building with the School of English and the School of Languages and Cultures.

    Department of History

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    94 per cent of our research in the Department of Politics and International Relations is rated in the highest two categories

    Research Excellence Framework 2021

    Top 10 in the UK for international relations

    Guardian University Guide 2024

    Top 20 in the UK for politics

    Guardian University Guide 2024

    Video featuring students from the Department of Politics and International Relations speaking about their experiences studying at University.

    We're proud to be one of the UK’s top departments for research and teaching in politics and international relations. Our academics are recognised internationally for their research expertise and for informing changes to national and international policy.

    The Department of Politics and International Relations is based next to the Wave, the new home for the faculty of Social Sciences. The Wave features state-of-the-art collaborative lecture theatres, study spaces and seminar rooms.

    Teaching may take place in the Wave, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space. Many of the University buildings are close together so it’s easy to walk between them and it’s a great way to get to know the city.

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    University rankings

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      University of the Year and best for Student Life 
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024, 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

    Student profiles

    Photo of History student ambassador Isobel Wilkinson

    My subjects perfectly complement each other, and there are so many great things about both sides of the course.

    Izzie Wilkinson BA History and Politics

    Izzie is a dual honours student studying History and Politics. Here she shares what she enjoys about studying at Sheffield.

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    Funding your study

    Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

    Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

    Placements and study abroad

    Placements

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the three year course to a four-year Degree with Placement Year. 

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range of transferable skills
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    There are also other opportunities to get work experience, with hands-on projects integrated into several of our academic modules. Alternatively, you can undertake a placement with a heritage or culture organisation, or join our student-led volunteering organisation History in the City and take part in activities that bring history to new audiences within the local community. All of these experiences will help you build a compelling CV.

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget. 

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually between the second and third year. We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

    Campus tours

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2025-2026

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    This degree combination equips you with the skills to flourish as both a historian and a political analyst, enabling you to develop your knowledge of critical historical events and themes. You’ll develop expertise at working with historical sources and think about how we study the past, applying this to the exciting and expansive range of periods researched by the experts in the Department of History.