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History at University. Alan Booth, Head of History, UoE Cornwall Campus: 7 Feb. 2013re. What University History Departments offer. • A modified, extended skill set • Research-led teaching that extends way beyond A level

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History at University

Alan Booth, Head of History, UoE Cornwall Campus: 7 Feb. 2013re

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What University History Departments offer

•A modified, extended skill set

•Research-led teaching that extends way beyond A level

•Different teaching patterns, with a growing emphasis on discussion-based and independent learning

• More extensive range of assessment types, always including the opportunity for professional historical research

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What University Departments value

• Passion for the subject

•Self-reflection

•Evidence of independent research and thinking

• Communication skills

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The new fee level and marketisation have created uncertainty

• For Russell Group history Departments, the shift from AAB to ABB open recruitment will make little difference

•Subject league tables and institutional reputation will continue to demand A*AA-AAB

•GCSE results might become more telling

• Disciplinary requirements vary between universities

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The Personal Statement

•Tariff will be the overriding factor

•The personal statement tends to enter the equation at the margin, when it can be immensely important

•Evidence passion for the subject, self-reflection, ability to work independently, in professional (non-colloquial), grammatical English

•There are multiple ways of registering these qualities

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Areas for improvement - from an academic’s perspective

•Ability to handle primary sources

•Absolute certainty that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers

•Communication skills

• Research skills

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Current students’ perspectives on the transition

“The most difficult part of the transition from A-Level to first year UG History was the notion of actually having to prepare for classes. In A-Level it was normal to just turn up to a lesson without having done any individual research and so when I arrived at university and it was expected that you turned up to seminars having read and actually understood two to three academic articles, this was quite a difficult routine to get in to. Once it became a habit and the language of academic writing (rather than text books) became familiar it wasn't an issue but initially I would say it was quite a daunting task.” 

“While at A-Level the focus is on learning the events, at degree level the focus is more about why did that happen and what are the debates around this? There is also the aspect of finding our own primary and secondary sources, whereas at A-Level they are usually provided.”

“I would say that it was going from having 8:30-4:30 compulsory timetabled lessons everyday to only about five hours a week. It was just really strange having to organise so much free time.”

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Advice to applicants

•Get the grades

•Get the grades

•Develop your skill set

• But recognize that History at University will want to develop what you think you already know