Contemporary History and Politics (BA): 4-year, part-time

Year of entry


Start date

October 2017


Central London


Fully Approved


Four years part-time


Two to three evenings a week, October to June

This programme is offered jointly by our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology and our Department of Politics, which gives you the opportunity to study current political ideas and events in combination with an understanding of the wider historical context of the modern world. The study of history and politics develops the ability to understand how people lived, acted and thought in the past, and the ways in which they act politically in the present. We encourage you to assess written and material evidence and to question accepted histories and explanations, and to construct and present your own arguments.

The course includes a wide variety of options across both disciplines, from the history of Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Britain, to the study of social and political theory, the analysis of authoritarianism and repressive regimes, and parliamentary democratic practice. The degree provides a mix of core modules which establish disciplinary approaches and methods, and a choice of modules which will allow you to pursue particular themes that interest you. You will gain a mix of skills drawn from the two disciplines: the ability to analyse data of different types, to understand the context and meaning of events, and to relate the study of the past to current political issues and developments.

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Why study this course at Birkbeck?

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
  • Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.  
  • Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, delivering stimulating teaching.
  • Our wide-ranging programmes encompass fascinating periods and areas of study, from human prehistory through to classical civilisation, the medieval and early modern periods, and on to twenty-first-century history, politics and international relations.
  • Our Department of Politics is over 40 years old and has a reputation for the excellence of its teaching and its internationally significant research.
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Course structure

The programme consists of 12 modules of 30 credits each, for a total of 360 credits. There are three kinds of module: compulsory Level 4 modules in core skills; Level 5 option modules which develop knowledge across broad areas of study; and Level 6 option modules which provide focused study on advanced topics. You take a balance of modules between the two disciplines.

The course structure is as follows:

  • In Year 1, you take two compulsory Politics modules and one compulsory History module.
  • In Year 2, you take two compulsory History modules (one of which must be Exploring the Past) and choose a Level 5 Politics option module.
  • In Year 3, you choose a Level 5 History option module, a Level 5 Politics option module, and an additional Level 6 option module from either discipline.
  • In your final year, you choose a Level 6 History option module, a Level 6 Politics option module, and a Level 6 option module from either discipline.


Read more about modules

Year 1 History compulsory modules (choose one)

Year 1 Politics compulsory modules

Year 2 History compulsory modules (choose two)

Year 2 Politics compulsory modules (choose one)

History indicative option modules

Politics indicative option modules

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