Studying History

Studying history with us will extend your knowledge of how the modern world came into being, but it will also improve your ability to think, to argue from evidence, and to communicate.

History equips you to understand change

History teaches you how to think about cause and effect, about how and why things change – and why sometimes they stay the same. Being able to understand change is an essential skill, and not only in your professional life.

History takes you outside yourself

History forces you to look at things from different perspectives – including the perspectives of people very different from yourself. You need a special combination of imagination and analytical rigour to understand how a medieval ritual or a Luddite protest against industrialization could embody thought and strategy, not just superstition or impulse. Understanding people, events, and cultures on their own terms is one of the most personally satisfying things about studying history. Yet it is also intensely practical, preparing you for diverse working environments where you will have to negotiate competing points of view.

History teaches you how to assess information

Historical research depends on analysing varied, even unruly, evidence – government documents, art works, court records, personal letters, diaries, films, statistics, advertising, artefacts, anything. Working out how to relate those asymmetrical pieces of evidence together, judging their strengths and their limits, is the most universal skill a historical training gives you. Whatever your career path, being able to assess a mass of conflicting information is a skill that will take you far – and equip you to respond to challenges that can't yet be foreseen.

What We Teach

All human happenings are embedded in particular times and places, and to understand events you have to understand their context. So many of the units in our major concentrate on particular periods, places and cultures, from medieval times through to the present day, from Australia and China to the United States and Europe. Others take a thematic or transnational approach, encouraging you to think comparatively across different societies in relation to one another. All of them teach you how to interpret evidence critically and constructively, how to apply different historical approaches and methods to a particular question or problem, and how to shape an argument.

You begin with junior units that teach you skills in interpreting evidence and placing events and trends in context. World-history surveys enable you to think about change over long spans of time and across the globe. After you’ve competed two junior units, you can enroll in 2000-level units. At 2000 level you study the histories of particular cities, nations, and regions, or explore issues such as capitalism, sexuality, epidemics, or scandal in a variety of different times and places. 3000-level units are more specialized and offer you a wide variety of topics. For the major, you must also complete at least one 3000-level ‘capstone’ unit (HSTY3901 HSTY3902, or HSTY3903), in which you will draw upon the skills you have developed throughout the major for a project of your own.

New students commencing in 2018 continuing students  Transfer to the new curriculum