Studying History

The study of history helps you to understand yourself and the world in which you live.

Every individual, every organisation, every nation, every religion, every branch of knowledge, every social or environmental challenge that we face today, has a history. In telling, or writing, or rewriting that history, the stakes can be high. Completing a history major will teach you not only how to write history, but also how to read it: sceptically, critically, analytically. It teaches you to recognise the power of certain historical narratives, and to question the assumptions and evaluate the evidence on which they are based.

History teaches you to approach the problems of the present in a historical frame, asking not only where we want to go next, but how we got here in the first place, what has been tried before, and what worked. Historians understand that things don?t have to be as they are, that change is not only possible but inevitable. These are useful ways of thinking, whether you want a career in the public, community or private sector, in foreign aid, law or the creative arts.

The study of history develops your personal skills of empathy, curiosity, and sensitivity to cultural difference. It builds your research skills, teaching you how to frame purposeful questions and how to find and evaluate the evidence that allows you to answer them. It teaches important skills of investigation, analysis, argument and critique. As an intrinsically narrative discipline, it also hones your skills of writing and speaking.

These so-called ‘generic skills’ in research, critical thinking and communication are crucial not just for history, but for fields ranging from law and international relations to English or economics, so choosing a history major can be a great complement to any of those studies. They are skills that will impress any employer, and will stand you in good stead no matter what profession you enter. To judge by the experience of past students of our Department, you will have excellent prospects of a brilliant career in many fields of endeavour:

  • museums
  • libraries
  • teaching
  • academic research
  • media
  • journalism
  • advertising
  • arts administration
  • public relations
  • politics and
  • law.

ArtSS Career-Ready

Why not check out ArtSS Career-Ready Career Planning and Career Placement Programs?

Exclusive to students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, your study of History can take you to places you might not have thought of before.