Academic Guidance Rate my prospective University's History programme

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,201
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
It seems to have a nice structure but only personal experience with the school would allow me to make an informed evaluation. However... experience makes me think I am looking at spam.
 
Jun 2018
5
London
It seems to have a nice structure but only personal experience with the school would allow me to make an informed evaluation. However... experience makes me think I am looking at spam.
Not spam--I promise :)
I'm quite new to the study of History. I want to pursue it academically and research Historiography.
I am applying to Royal Holloway because their course provides a foundation to History as a discipline. I didn't study History at A-Level (college), so I was apprehensive of studying it at degree level.

Do you think the first year looks like a good introduction into the study of History?
 
Last edited:
Feb 2016
11
London
Honestly it is pretty difficult to say without access to the module outlines themselves. The module titles look pretty much standard for a Russel Group university (if a bit more skill and theory focused than usual - which sounds like what you are after), but it's hard to say much about the quality of the course itself without actually seeing the week-by-week structure and reading lists of the actual modules. Universities are very tetchy about sharing that information publicly nowadays, largely because history courses today very often consist of nothing but a reading list, a library card, and maybe 6 contact hours a week across 3 modules. So they keep all that information to themselves.



Of course, I don't say this necessarily to put you off - those courses are to an extent what you make of them, and are determined as much by the people you meet and interact with and the opportunities you have as by what you study. But don't let them take the piss. I have worked as a teaching assistant at some RG unis in London and was appalled by how badly laid out the courses were, how basic and shoddy the quality of the lectures were, and how few contact hours and, well, teaching students were in practice given in exchange for their eye-watering fees. One of them has a remarkably incoherent and badly thought-out course outline for its module on modern europe, purely so that they can chop the module in half and sell places on it to international students for even bigger fees.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2018
5
London
Honestly it is pretty difficult to say without access to the module outlines themselves. The module titles look pretty much standard for a Russel Group university (if a bit more skill and theory focused than usual - which sounds like what you are after), but it's hard to say much about the quality of the course itself without actually seeing the week-by-week structure and reading lists of the actual modules. Universities are very tetchy about sharing that information publicly nowadays, largely because history courses today very often consist of nothing but a reading list, a library card, and maybe 6 contact hours a week across 3 modules. So they keep all that information to themselves.
Thank you for your feedback. I am in the process of emailing the Tutor for Admissions about reading lists and in-depth course layout. I independently research History, through reading, and, more recently, MOOCs; but I would hate to be thrown into the deep end with a lot of specialisation so early into the course. I'm looking for a quasi-foundation year: to cover what I had missed at college level. Though I assume college level is very different from University level.
Of course, I don't say this necessarily to put you off - those courses are to an extent what you make of them, and are determined as much by the people you meet and interact with and the opportunities you have as by what you study. But don't let them take the piss. I have worked as a teaching assistant at some RG unis in London and was appalled by how badly laid out the courses were, how basic and shoddy the quality of the lectures were, and how few contact hours and, well, teaching students were in practice given in exchange for their eye-watering fees. One of them has a remarkably incoherent and badly thought-out course outline for its module on modern europe, purely so that they can chop the module in half and sell places on it to international students for even bigger fees.
Only thing I want to point out is Royal Holloway is not a Russell Group affiliate. RHUL belonged to the now dissolved 1994 research group. Your comments are nonetheless still valid. A lot of it depends on the teaching. Something I will have to experience for myself first hand, which makes the decision tougher.
 
Feb 2016
11
London
Only thing I want to point out is Royal Holloway is not a Russell Group affiliate. RHUL belonged to the now dissolved 1994 research group. Your comments are nonetheless still valid. A lot of it depends on the teaching. Something I will have to experience for myself first hand, which makes the decision tougher.

Ah, my mistake - I was sure it was RG. Should have checked!



My limited experience of non-RG unis is that they actually tend to offer better tuition than their more prestigious peers (though they are of course far from isolated from the profiteering rot that has set in UK higher education).



It won't just be the teaching that makes your experience, though. By the sounds of it you are a very motivated and well-read student - and there'll be a few others like you. It's worth seeking them out. You can often learn a lot from interacting with your peers - that was the case for me right up to masters level.



I would not think that you need to worry too much about being overwhelmed in the first year - as a general rule, these courses typically start out in fairly broad strokes and intensify a bit in the second year. In fact I suspect you will find yourself with a fair bit of free time in your first year - and I encourage you very strongly to use some of that time to read as widely as you can. I am a PhD student now and I still find myself occasionally going back to things I read in my first year.



Anyway, I hope you have a great time and that your studies prove fulfilling!