What Grades Do I Need to Apply for History?

People who study History have an interest in the past and studying the past helps us to understand our present, to see it in perspective, and could help us better understand events that may occur in the future.

Although a History degree doesn’t lead to an obvious career you’ll learn many valuable skills that are highly prized by employers from all industries.

One important thing to remember if you’re thinking about applying for History is that there’s going to be a lot of reading involved in your course. It doesn’t matter which period of history you study, you’re going to have to do many hours of independent research outside of lectures.

Here’s more about studying History at university.

What kinds of History degrees are available?

Not all History courses are the same. Some courses are very specialist, others more broadly based so it’s vital that you make sure you read the course description carefully and apply for the course you really want to do. 

For example, if you are interested in Medieval History then picking a course with a 20th Century focus on International History isn’t going to lead to a happy time at university.

The majority of universities also offer the option of taking a joint degree, so History and another subject.

Some popular joint options include:

  • History and English
  • History and Politics
  • History and French/German/Spanish/Chinese

Of course you could also look at less common options if you wanted to combine two areas of interest or gain a degree that has obvious career benefits for the future – for example, History and Business.

What grades do I need to apply for History?

History is one of the most popular, and therefore most competitive, university courses so you’re going to need the best grades you can to be successful.

Not all universities will ask that you’ve studied History at A Level but it’s important to check the entry requirements of each university you’re interested in before applying.

Other good A Level subjects to take include:

  • Ancient History
  • Economic History
  • Politics
  • Sociology
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • English
  • History of Art
  • Classics
  • any Language
  • Law

Exact grade requirements vary between universities but you can expect that they will usually be at the higher end of the spectrum – AAA, ABB for example.

Are there any other entry requirements for a History degree?

As well as an excellent academic record you’ll also need a strong personal statement to be a successful History applicant.

Here are some tips for a brilliant History personal statement:

  • The most important question to answer is 'Why do you want to study History?'
  • Avoid "I've been interested in history since I was two" or using words like "passionate" and "fascinated"
  • Remember, you have not 'always been interested in History' because you weren’t born with an interest in History
  • Do NOT mention that your interest in History is as a result of watching a TV series – these series are at best often historically inaccurate
  • Also be careful about talking about TV historians – not all historians like them and some lecturers may even know them
  •  Don’t just list your extra-curricular activities - explain what you get out of them in terms of skills, experience etc.
  • If you are applying for joint honours or any combined subject course – don’t try to make connections between the two subjects is there isn't an obvious link but do discuss why you want to do these two subjects

Where can I study History?

History is an extremely popular course and the majority of the universities in the UK offer it.

Of course all of the Russell Group universities offer History and expect their students to have near perfect academic record.

Some other universities that offer History include:

  • Bristol
  • King’s College London
  • Southampton
  • Glasgow
  • Cardiff
  • Newcastle
  • Kent
  • Birmingham
  • Leeds

Remember that there is no universal curriculum for a History degree like there is at A Level, so choose the course that best suits you in terms of content, not just because the university itself has a good reputation or an award winning SU bar.

What are my career prospects with a History degree?

A History degree could lead on to you doing anything and everything. There is no set career path after graduation. The skills gained during your course are highly valuable in all industries from those obviously connected to History to those in the corporate world.

It’s important to get work experience either from paid work or volunteering whilst you’re at university so that you’re “job ready” as soon as you graduate.