I am going to share with you my three favourite things about studying History at York. I am currently half way through my degree and still loving it as if it were the first term. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
At York, you will have a lot of control over what you want to study. Even in the first year I was able to choose a module. Everyone must take the compulsory modules but even within this you can study further the topics that interest you and only do the essential work for things that don’t quite spark joy.
Additionally, the course is constantly being improved so current first years are studying some different modules than I did last year. Thus, you can be sure that every year the curriculum improves and is refined. York is a research based university so module options reflect lecturers interests and specialities as much as possible. This means if, like me, you enjoy medieval history you will be taught that module by a medieval historian. This sounds obvious but in my opinion it really makes a difference to be able to talk to someone researching a specialised area as they often have more passion for their subject, which also comes across in their teaching.
There are so many amazing resources available to us as York students. The library has such a vast array of books, audio files, digital archives and more that it is easy to explore pretty much any topic you might be interested in. Personally, I spend most of my time on the second floor of the library – it’s like a second home.
History requires a lot of independent study so it’s useful to be able to just get stuck in. Once you get used to the (very easy) system of organisation you can find extra materials in a jiffy. Sometimes I pick out more books than I need to read because I see one on the shelf that looks useful. But it’s not just books! Sometimes we have to listen to assigned podcasts or look at relevant images. We also have access to not just JB Morrell but the Minster Archives, Borthwick Institute and numerous online collections. Plus, if there is something you don’t currently have access to you can request it for free!
The city itself is brimming with history. Living in a place that is bursting with historical value really helps to keep my love for studying the subject fresh. Last term I was lucky enough to have a seminar in King’s Manor so I walked the ancient city walls to get to class every week. I took the picture of the Minister, shown here, on the way to class. Walking along the walls with a view of the Minster – which has a history dating back to the Roman era – to arrive at class inside a Grade 1 listed historic building really felt amazing because I was living and breathing the early modern history I was studying.
These are only three great things about studying History at York but of course there are many more. It is a beautiful city with a vibrant academic community. You’ll have opportunities outside of the department like the student run history society. Or, you might take on a volunteer placement at some of the many historic places of interest. All of these contribute to an enjoyable uni life here.