Contemporary History

BA, 3-4 years

This is for you if... you want to concentrate on recent history alongside contemporary politics and international relations, with modules covering global topics.

Course Description

  • As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to being a leading academic institution, we regularly review and update our degrees and modules to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date research, knowledge, ideas and teaching practices, as well as taking into account student feedback. We also have to take into account the availability of key teaching staff where this will impact on the delivery of the course.  As a result, if there are major changes to the course that you have applied for, we will contact you as soon as possible and will ensure that any disruption to your studies is minimised.

The Contemporary History BA is run in partnership with the Department of Politics and International Relations and is designed to emphasise the history of the recent past and integrate it with contemporary politics and international relations. The degree is aimed at students whose main interests lie in modern history and the contemporary world, allowing you to concentrate on a focused chronological period, with modules covering a broad geographical range.

You will learn about the various factors, particularly political factors, that shape historical events and our understanding of them. An appreciation of international relations is vital for analysing the fluctuating relationships that countries share with one another, either directly or through international bodies such as the UN. The topical nature of this course will not only help you understand the past but also prepare you to construct informed arguments about events that are unfolding today.

Your first year will be spent acquiring foundation skills and knowledge in your areas of interest. Later on you will have the freedom to select your modules and build a degree around topics that inspire you. With experts in a plethora of topics, you will always be able to find modules that pique your curiosity and quench your thirst for knowledge – from peopling Australia to the history of alcohol in America.

Key Facts
Typical offer
UCAS code
Start date
September 2018

Admissions enquiries
+44 (0)116 252 5281

Course enquiries
+44 (0)116 252 2587

School of History website

View Key Information Sets

Why Leicester?

You will be taught by academics at the forefront of their fields. Their enthusiasm and the opportunity to contribute your own ideas makes for an exciting learning environment.

The University Library contains some fascinating historical archives, including the East Midlands Oral History Archive, featuring 30 years of recordings dating back to the Victorian period. 

More than 90% of our research has been designated internationally significant, meaning our academics are among the world's best in their subjects. 

Our staff expertise covers history from every part of the globe and from the medieval to modern periods. This is reflected in the diversity and breadth of modules that you can study.

Course Structure

Year 1

Year 1

Your first year will give you a firm grounding in the major issues and events that have shaped modern history. You will also be introduced to the political landscape that has emerged since the end of WWII and how contemporary history is increasingly affected by global relationships.

You will be introduced to Making History. This element of the course equips you with the skills necessary to be an effective and informed history student and is taught partly in small groups by your personal tutor. You will also take core modules in global and modern European history as well as politics and international relations. You will also have the opportunity to study an aspect of the contemporary world that particularly interests you.

Core modules

Option modules

  • Either Comparative European Politics or Order and Disorder: International Relations from 1989 to the Present

Plus one from the following:

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Year 2

Year 2

In your second year, you will study a selection of modules that will develop your understanding of important concepts and theories of history. The remainder of your learning will be elective. You will have the opportunity to choose modules from a wide range of periods and study them with your newly developed skills.

Core module

  • Perceiving the Past

Option modules

Choose two option modules from:

  • European Union Politics
  • Governing Societies in Conflict
  • Latin American Politics
  • Political Analysis
  • Political Parties in Contemporary Britain
  • Sex and Gender in Global Politics
  • Power and Politics in Africa
  • The Making of Contemporary US Foreign Policy

Plus three option modules from:

  • A World Connected: Welfare, Economy and Government since 1945
  • All Bourgeois Now? Class in History, 1700-2000
  • Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution
  • Enter the Dragon: Modern Chinese History, 1839-1989
  • From Beer to Fraternity: Alcohol, Society and Culture in North America
  • From News to History
  • Global Cities
  • History Imperialism and Decolonisation
  • History in the Classroom
  • Jack-the-Ripper: Crime, Popular Culture and Policing in Victorian Times
  • Living with Dictatorship
  • Modern Ireland, 1939-1975
  • Origins of a Global Economy
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Radical Histories
  • Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union
  • Slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States
  • Stormtroops, Iron Guard and Arrow Cross: Fascism and Genocide in Eastern Europe, 1938-1945
  • The Historian’s Craft 

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Year Abroad (optional)

Year Abroad (optional)

If you want to, you can spend your third year studying abroad at one of our partner institutions (eligibility is dependent on your academic performance in Years 1 and 2). Alternatively, you can opt to continue studying at the University and complete your degree in three years.

Studying abroad is not just for people who are interested in travelling and meeting new people. It is about acquiring life skills that are becoming increasingly significant for a wide range of jobs in our modern globalised society. Whether you go on to work in the private sector, the state sector, a non-governmental organisation, or become self-employed you will find the experience invaluable. Find out more from our International Office

Please note that a year spent abroad still incurs a tuition fee, but this is much lower than for a normal year at Leicester. See our Fees and Funding section for details.

The School of English has links with several European universities, administered through the European Erasmus scheme. If you are eligible for a loan from Student Finance you can apply for a travel grant from them. During your second year at Leicester you will receive appropriate language training.

  • For the latest information on the future of the Erasmus scheme at UK universities please see our Brexit microsite 

We have links with the following universities:

We also have links with some universities outside Europe. If you are receiving financial assistance from Student Finance your support will continue and you may also be eligible to apply for additional travel grants or scholarships. We have links with the following universities:

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Final Year

Final Year

In the third year you will specialise in the historical topics that interest you most. You will study a detailed Special Subject reflecting the particular research strengths of your tutors and write an original dissertation on a topic that interests you. The dissertation is written with expert guidance from your supervisor.

If you choose to do a History dissertation, you must have taken The Historian's Craft in your second year.

Core module

  • Either History dissertation or Politics dissertation

Option modules

Choose four option modules from:

  • American Political Development
  • Brave New World
  • Cities and the Making of Modern South Asia, c. 1750-1950
  • Clothing and Fashion in Historical Perspective
  • Contentious Politics in Europe
  • Democratization and EU Enlargement in Post-Communist Europe
  • Facing Modernity: Jews in Central Europe
  • Making Nazis: Propaganda and Persuasion in the Third Reich
  • Parliamentary Studies
  • Political Participation in Britain
  • Political Parties in Western Democracies
  • Politics of the Global South
  • Politics of the International Drug Trade
  • South African Foreign Policy
  • South African Politics
  • The American Presidency
  • The Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968
  • The Conservatives: Crisis and Recovery
  • The Imperial Economy: Britain and the Wider World
  • The Political Legacies of Conflict in Northern Ireland
  • The Politics of Contemporary British Foreign Policy
  • The Transformation of Leicester, 1945-1980
  • The USA and the Vietnam War
  • What Difference Did the War Make? British Society and the Great War, 1900 - 1939
  • When Two Dragons Fight: China and Japan in the Twentieth Century

OR two option modules from the above list and one option module from:

  • Israel/Palestine: the Story of a Land, 1882 to the Present
  • The Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • The Cause: Women's Suffrage
  • Genocides and Mass Violence in Europe and its Colonies
  • Church, State and Belief in Soviet Russia
  • After Hitler

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Additional Information

Major/Minor Degrees

Major/Minor degrees enable you to create your own degree. You can study a core area in depth (your major subject), while also exploring an additional area (your minor subject).

Why not complement your Major with a subject that you enjoyed before, or which has vocational elements that can boost your career prospects? Alternatively, you may want to try something completely new that you’ve always been interested in, like a language.

Find out more

Teaching and Assessment

We teach through a variety of methods, ranging from large lectures to seminars to individual tutorials. Lectures are used to provide historical narrative and to raise key historical questions and areas of debate; seminars are where you share your opinion about those debates and put forward your interpretation of history. The first year normally sees about ten contact hours per week, and greater emphasis is placed on small group teaching and independent study as you progress through the degree.

Assessment is through exams and coursework comprising long and short essays, source analyses, group projects, and both group and individual presentations. Approximately two thirds of your final degree mark will be based on your coursework; one third on your exams.

You will have regular meetings with your personal tutor to discuss progress in your studies. Your personal tutor will also provide a sympathetic ear for all matters of personal concern, whether academic, financial, housing, career or social.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. To help with your independent learning, you can access the Library and our social study spaces in halls of residence.

Overall workload

Typical workload hours for History courses in 2016/17: 

Year 1: 14% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 168 hours
  • Independent learning: 1032 hours

Year 2: 15% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 180 hours
  • Independent learning: 1020 hours
Optional year abroad: If you're spending a year abroad, your contact will vary depending on the institution you're studying at. 

Final year: 14% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 168 hours
  • Independent learning: 1032 hours

While your actual contact hours may depend on the option modules you select, the above information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities for each year of your course.

Academic support

Our Student Learning Development Team provides help in the following areas:

  • study and exam skills
  • academic writing
  • presentations
  • dissertations
  • numerical data skills
  • referencing sources

Our AccessAbility Centre offers support and practical help for students with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties, including physical, mental health or mobility difficulties, deafness, or visual impairment.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. PhD research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader. Our teaching is informed by the research we do. You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.

Research Stories

Entry Requirements

  • A/AS-levels: ABB at A-Level. We prefer A-Level History, though this is not essential. Two AS-Levels considered in place of one A-Level. General Studies is accepted.
  • EPQ with A-levels: BBB at A-Level + EPQ at grade B. We prefer A-Level History, though this is not essential.
  • Access to HE Diploma: Pass relevant diploma with 45 credits, 30 of which must be at distinction.
  • International Baccalaureate: Pass Diploma with 30 points including grade 6 in one Higher Level subject.
  • BTEC Nationals: Pass Diploma with DDM.

Other national and international qualifications considered. If you do not meet the entry requirements for this course, you can apply for the International Foundation Year run by our dedicated International Study Centre. The ISC provides academic and English language support to help you progress to your chosen undergraduate degree at the University of Leicester.

Second Year Entry may be possible with suitable qualifications.

Selection Process

When considering your application, we will look for evidence that you will be able to fulfil the objectives of the course and achieve the standards required. We will take into account a range of factors including previous exam results.

Applicants are not normally interviewed. If you receive an offer you will be invited to visit the School of History.

English Language Requirements

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. If you do not yet meet our requirements, our English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) offers a range of courses to help you to improve your English to the necessary standard.

International Qualifications

Find your country in this list to check equivalent qualifications, scholarships and additional requirements.

Countries list

Fees and Funding

  • Starting in 2018

    • £9,250 in your first year. After 2018/19, the tuition fee you pay may increase annually in line with inflation and is subject to government regulations.
    • Year Abroad: your fee will be £1,250 for that year.

    Find out more about scholarships and funding.


  • Starting in 2018

    • £15,980 per year
    • Year Abroad: your fee will be £3,995 which is 25% of the full-time tuition fee.

    Find out more about scholarships and funding.

Career Opportunities

The School offers several practical or placement modules so that you can gain hands-on experience in your chosen career path. For instance, our 'History in the Classroom' module includes practical teaching experience by incorporating a placement in a local school.

The School routinely develops paid internship opportunities for our students to gain additional, relevant work experience during their degrees. Roles such as research assistant, conference organiser, and editorial assistant have been offered in recent years.


Our Career Development Service is here to support you, with advice on interviews, CVs, work experience, volunteering, and more. From Freshers’ Week to Graduation and beyond, they are here to help you reach your professional goals.

Course Qualification Duration UCAS Code Availability
Contemporary History BA 3 years full-time V140 Apply Now
Contemporary History with Year Abroad BA 4 years full-time V140 Apply Now
Contemporary History
3 years full-time
Contemporary History with Year Abroad
4 years full-time

Not what you're looking for?

arrow-downarrow-down-3arrow-down-2arrow-down-4arrow-leftarrow-left-3arrow-left-2arrow-left-4arrow-rightarrow-right-3arrow-right-2arrow-right-4arrow-uparrow-up-3arrow-up-2arrow-up-4book-2bookbuildingscalendar-2calendarcirclecrosscross-2facebookfat-l-1fat-l-2filtershead-2headinstagramlinkedinmenuMENUMenu Arrowminusrotator-pausepinrotator-playplayplussearchsnapchatthin-l-1thin-l-2ticktweettwitterwechatweiboyoutube