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University life can be a daunting experience, both for those joining and for those already here. We all need a bit of guidance sometimes and, luckily enough, the university provides an extensive support network at the department, college, and university levels. Whether you want to understand the history courses at Durham a bit better, need some study guidance or simply someone to talk to, this page should provide, at least, some pointers as to the support available to you.


The Courses

Durham's history courses are nationally acclaimed and unique to the institution. Built around the student, they can be unique to you. Familiarise yourself with them below.


Study Tips

Whether it's learning how to read academic texts, how to approach seminars and lectures, how to write a university essay or prepare for an exam, we all need a bit of guidance.


Pastoral Support

University is hard, especially studying a subject like history at a university like Durham. It is normal to struggle. But you don't have to do so without support and guidance. 

The Courses

Many degrees lead to students having some form of connection to the history department, from the V100 History BA course to the liberal arts and social sciences courses to singular elective modules. Each course has its own particulars, which you should view on their respective course information pages (search them on the university website or a search engine).


However, there are some shared characteristics for the undergraduate courses that may be helpful to know for those looking to study at Durham University:

  • The department examines students through a mixture of coursework and timed examinations, with a higher emphasis on coursework than some other similarly ranked departments in the UK. 

  • You will complete a mix of 'formative' (i.e. does not contribute to your year/degree mark) and 'summative' (i.e. does contribute to your year/degree mark) assessments.

  • There are options for placement years and studying abroad for all degrees offered by the department.

  • You must complete one medieval, one early modern and one late modern module in the V100 History BA course in years 1 and 2, but not in year 3.

  • There is no requirement, unlike some other universities, to study a set number of British history modules.

For a list of every history course provided by the department and details particular to each of them, including post-graduate study, the relevant university page is linked here. 

Study Tips

Everybody studies in their own way. However, below are a few tips the executive committee believes to be central to anyone studying history:

  • First-year provides an important basis for the rest of your degree. Have fun, of course, but don't neglect the subject just because it won't contribute to your final mark: second and third year you will be grateful!

  • Plan out when you will write your essays as soon as you can. Rushing your essays at the end of term does not work (well at least) at university.

  • Make full use of your professors' Office Hours. They are some of the brightest minds in the world; one-on-one meetings provide an incredible opportunity to pick their brains!

  • Read the abstract or otherwise the introduction and conclusion of any academic text before reading its core, especially if it is a complex piece.

  • Academic reviews are helpful if you want to avoid reading an entire book. They provide concise summaries and often insightful critiques.

  • Write a summary of each text you read, potentially with critiques, at the top of your notes. This helps with revision and essay writing, preventing you from having to read over all of your notes and develops a very useful skill.

  • Seminars aim to foster debate, so try to prepare not only short summaries but also a few critiques or questions for each article.

  • Make sure to include all page numbers during note-taking.

For further advice, the department has an excellent collection of resources on its SharePoint site linked here.

Pastoral Support

University can throw up a whole host of challenges relating to academic work, social life and living conditions, impacting one's physical and/or mental health. If you have any such concerns, it is best to contact the relevant support groups as soon as possible. Each college has a dedicated student support office, while the university also has a disability support team and a counselling and mental health team. 

If you are joining the university and have an Autistic Spectrum Condition, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or other specific learning difficulties, mental health difficulties, mobility impairments or sensory impairments, it is best to contact disability support as soon as possible. They will direct you as to what medical evidence is needed to support your application to be registered with the service. It is best to do this even if you are not sure that your condition will impact your work, to forestall any last-minute issues just before deadlines. You can reach out to the Disability Support Team directly or do so through the department's Learning and Teaching Manager, both via email.

If you face discrimination of any kind, are harassed or are made to feel unwelcome, you can contact your college office or use the University's Report + Support Service linked here.

If you want to talk to someone immediately about a pressing issue, you should contact the relevant support teams outlined above. If it is between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM, Durham students run a fully anonymous listening service called Durham Nightline, their website is linked here.

For more details, the department has an excellent collection of resources and step-by-step guides to help with a wide range of concerns, all stored on its Sharepoint page linked here.

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