|10:00||Rhythm and Reason Seminar|
|13:00||Making Histories Lecture|
|16:00||Making Histories Seminar|
The image above shows what my timetable was like during my first term of studying History at York. Don’t worry, I said the same thing as you: ‘Do we only have 5 hours of teaching?!’. Well the answer is technically yes, but trust me, studying History at York is harder and more rewarding than just 5 hours a week.
For those of you wondering what the modules that I completed in my first term involve, I will give a short description. ‘Making Histories’ is the compulsory module which involves skills which are necessary to study History at an advanced level at any university. These skills involve such things as bibliographies and referencing, analysis of primary and secondary sources and essay structure. The course is taught across lectures and seminars. Lectures provide a basic overview, whereas practical work such as source analysis happens during the seminars.
My other module in first term was called ‘Rhythm and Reason’. This fun sounding title was a course about the history of the radio in the twentieth century. You’re probably pulling a funny face whilst reading the words ‘history of the radio’ – trust me I got a few from people when I told them what I was studying! But that is the great thing about York – the options available to you. Unlike some universities, which may specialise in a particular period, at York we cover every period of history and every corner of the globe. For example, after Christmas I will begin a module on post-war Japan. Also, a lot of the teaching at York is done through seminars. So instead of listening to somebody stood at the front of a room for an hour, we are much more engaged with our lecturers. Seminars involve up to 15 people in a room analysing and debating the issues that have arisen. This method of teaching is a speciality of York and I have found it extremely effective.
Rhythm and Reason is what is known as a ‘period topic’. You chose your period topic before you arrive and I had a choice of about 12. The choices range from the end of the Roman Empire to the twentieth century. My advice would be to go for something which you never had the opportunity to study at school. In no circumstance would I have been able to study a module on radio history before coming to York, but it sounded amazing- and it was. Also, remember that the first year marks don’t count towards your final degree, you just have to get above 40%. Therefore, it’s not the end of the world if you try something new and it doesn’t work out.
If you try something new and you are struggling, then there is the support there to help you. Every student is assigned a supervisor (an academic member of staff) who is your point of contact for the entirety of the three years. Each member of staff also has student hours. These student hours are normally two hours a week when each member of staff puts down their own work and open their doors to students to ask any questions on the work, or offer any support that you need. It is a really useful service as often, academics really relish talking to you about their work.
Their is also a myth around history that you have to fight other students to gain access to books from the library. This just isn’t true. The library offers a great system. Most of the reading you need to do for a seminar are digitalised and online so you can access them whenever you want. For any texts that aren’t online, there is a section in the library called ‘key texts’. This section has important texts for the module which are in high demand. However, you can only borrow these texts for four hours at a time. This system prevents one single person holding onto the texts for a long time.
|09:00||Reading for Rhythm and Reason procedural essay|
|10:00||Rhythm and Reason Seminar||Making Histories seminar reading||Prepare for Making histories lecture|
|13:00||Making Histories Lecture||Reading for Rhythm and Reason procedural essay||Making Histories seminar reading||Rhythm and Reason Seminar Reading||Reading for Rhythm and Reason procedural essay|
|14:00||Finish any notes for making histories lecture||Reading for Rhythm and Reason Procedural essay||Making histories seminar reading||Darts Practice|
|15:00||Reading for Rhythm and Reason Seminar|
|16:00||Reading for Rhythm and Reason Seminar||Cricket practice||Making Histories Seminar|
|After 6||College Pool||College Darts||Sports Socials||University Darts||Table Tennis match|
Above is a timetable that shows the contact hours in italics, but I have added extra curricular activities from my experience of first term. When you compare the two timetables, you see that your free time quickly fills up with reading for modules as well as sport and social activities. However, this should be seen as a benefit of studying History. Unlike many other degree programmes history students have the opportunity to carry on with any sport, clubs or musical activities they have previously enjoyed, as I did with cricket. Likewise, you have the opportunity to try something new, as I did with darts.
Although my timetable seems relatively full, there are several other events and activities that could’ve been added if I was writing this blog looking at a later time in the year. For example, at the end of first term I ran for sports rep on the Alcuin committee, which I got. As a result, I attended Alcuin committee meetings on a Tuesday night from 6:30 to 7:30. Also, a great benefit of coming to York is that students have the opportunity to study a foreign language at no extra cost. This is a great way to boost your CV.