A Message to School History Students

18 August 2020

Congratulations to all students who have studied History as part of their A-Level, Advanced Highers and BTEC qualifications this year. Your hard work (and your teachers’ dedication) during the pandemic has been inspiring.

The analytical skills you’ve developed by studying History are excellent preparation for further study and your future careers — whether in the charity sector, consultancy, government, heritage organisations, legal studies, teaching or so many other professions.

The recent resolution of this year’s examination results is good news. The English and devolved governments’ decision to use your teachers’ assessments, rather than a faulty algorithm, will permit many more students to benefit from Higher Education in 2020-2021 in this unprecedented time. At the same time, we know that many of you are still unsure where, or in what format, you will be able to study this autumn, and that the uncertainties of the current situation are a source of great anxiety.

There are still places available on excellent History programmes across Britain, and a key feature of UK university History teaching is that excellence is found throughout the higher education sector. How do we know this?  As the main learned society for History in Britain, the RHS believes in basing our arguments on evidence.  We work closely with departmental heads, and each year for decades, we have visited different university History programmes to learn about what they’re doing to enhance their students’ experiences.

Innovations in personal tutoring, curriculum offerings, career development and research supervision abound in UK History programmes.  Our annual Teaching and Research prizes and the annual RHS History Today and History Scotland prizes (for the best undergraduate History dissertations) can recognise only a fraction of this excellence. But we repeatedly find that innovation and quality extends across the sector as a whole.

If you are still looking for a place to study History, you can find first-rate degree programmes – with highly satisfied students – across all institutional types. History can be studied in a wide variety of high-calibre departments, each with their own character and areas of excellence; some have established expertise in distance learning, and others make substantial provision for part-time and/or evening study.

The Royal Historical Society encourages you to explore the full range of History programmes to find the best one for you.  If you miss out on your first choice, this is an opportunity to identify a new, alternative first choice from among the many programmes on offer. Don’t hesitate to contact institutions’ helplines to explore your options.

Take time to find a programme that suits your interests — whether those are in the histories of medieval women, Latin American politics, Chinese cultural revolution, the Ottoman empire, religious wars in early modern Europe, the Black Atlantic, Enlightenment thought, innovative digital methods or many more.

Wherever you choose to study History, when you start your degree you’ll be greeted warmly by enthusiastic experts who are both first-rate scholars and committed teachers.

Our very best wishes will be with you from the start.

Professor Margot Finn
President
Royal Historical Society