History students outside Lancaster Castle

First year history at Lancaster

The step up from school to university is exciting but can be daunting. Your first year of History at Lancaster will support you in developing university-level research and writing habits and skills, with academic support available when you need it.

The first year of your History degree at Lancaster will have three components:

  • A core module taken by all History students
  • A choice of shorter optional courses
  • The opportunity to study a subject in another department

The Core Module

Our core module, ‘Ancient to Modern: History and Historians’ is taught by a group of our lecturers whose research interests range from Ancient to Contemporary History.

This module gives you the opportunity to meet our academics and study a broad variety of topics. You'll get a taste of the Histories that you can choose to study in greater depth in your second and third years.

You will be taught through a two-hour weekly lecture and a weekly seminar. The lectures provide a background for the events and themes that are explored in greater depth through discussion in the seminars.

It is our job to introduce the complexities of each week’s focus and make sure that things make sense to you!

Optional Courses

Our optional courses will allow you to develop greater expertise in particular topics. We encourage you to explore times, places and events with which you are unfamiliar.

There are a number of course options, ranging from late-antiquity in Southern Europe to modern British imperialism. For example, in your first term, you could choose to study the Fall of Rome, which traces the events that led to the shrinkage and eventual collapse of the Roman Empire.

In your second term, you could choose to study modern Europe, exploring the emergence of new nations from 1800 until 1950. How were European identities, and the idea of ‘the European’, forged in culture, politics and war?

Another Subject

Lastly, you choose a subject in another department. Again, we encourage our students to be bold and try new disciplines that they have not previously encountered.

You could choose a course in Philosophy, Film Studies or Psychology, or use the flexibility of the degree structure to learn a new language or improve your language skills. Some of our students start Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish or German from scratch, or pursue advanced study of French, German or Spanish.

Emerson Doore
Emerson Doore

A student's view: "you can really make the course your own"

The core module is a great aspect of the course because it allowed me to explore new areas of History such as Ancient Sparta, Vikings and the formation of the United States.

I visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford as part of the core course. We had guided tours from the curators who explained the provenance of Ancient Greek pottery and studied sculptures in the cast gallery.

For my additional history courses, I chose ‘Reform Rebellion and Reason in Britain’ and ‘Histories of Violence’. Having the choice to take an additional history module was great because it allowed me to see the wide range of courses offered and helped me decide which courses I wanted to take next year.

I also took a minor in Human Geography, because it complemented my History major via considering how historical events have impacted Human Geography. The course covered a broad scope of topics including Political, Development and Social geographies.

A typical week for me included a two-hour lecture for the History core course, two one-hour History optional course lectures and two weekly hour-long seminar. Seminars are like smaller A level classes. I often had seminar tasks or a set of questions to answer based upon set readings.

Seminars rely heavily upon group discussion and occasional debates. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of speaking to a group getting to voice your opinion is a great way to help construct your own arguments drawing upon your individual research.

The biggest difference between A levels and university is the amount of flexibility and choice you have when studying. History at university isn’t all about remembering long lists of names and dates. Alongside studying set texts, you can really make the course your own by exploring themes that interest you.

Emerson Doore, First Year Student