History dives into a broad range of topics, from graffiti to opera, and will push you to think more deeply about history. How can we be sure it happened? When is history remembered or forgotten?
⌛️Last updated: April 28, 2020, 9:02 p.m.
Here are some general resources related to History. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which History-related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.
You can study the history of pretty much anything – think about what interests you and really try to dig into it! Far better to know something you really enjoy learning about in detail, than to try to have a vague, ‘general’ knowledge of lots of things
When it comes to choosing what to read, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed. If you are just getting started, try choosing a general book which will give you an overview of your chosen topic. If you can, find one that was published relatively recently as it will give you the most up-to-date information.
If possible, try to borrow books from your local library or to find them online for free to keep costs down. If you can’t find the books you want this way, see if you can find cheap second-hand copies on Amazon (well-loved books are often more fun to read and you might come across some interesting annotations!).
You might like to explore your historical interests by looking at relevant primary sources. You can do this from home or by visiting different places! Think outside of the box and be open-minded in thinking about what a ‘primary source’ might be. Use your imagination – there is no ‘wrong’ source or place to visit to explore your historical interests! We've listed some examples in this section.
Music Royal College of Music if you’re interested in music history and interested in looking at original manuscripts or instruments from around the world – other specialised colleges may also allow you to use their libraries (are there science or sports libraries? If you’re interested, have a look!)
Colonisation If you’re interested in European colonisation and in shifting away from a Eurocentric model of history, have a look at a map of the world! Why does it look the way it does? Why is Britain often located top and centre? Who originally drew up the map? Who decides the positioning of borders? Why even distinguish between different countries? How have maps changed over time and why?
Architecture Some buildings and sites can be very interesting in relation to particular historical topics e.g. the Park Hill Estate in Sheffield or the recently demolished Dulcie Bridge Pub in Manchester in relation to working class / social history.
Film British Film Institute Library if you’re a historical film fan. You can also access lots of early films easily online for free! It can be interesting to see what working class folk in 1930s Britain enjoyed, or to see the impact of the rise of fascism in Europe on film (think lots of marching and pompous soundtracks!)
Street art Street art and culture – this can be interesting in relation to how communities have changed over time, for example through migration or gentrification. You don’t even need to go far from home to do this. How has the high street changed? In relation to what historical processes? How have people responded and why?
Family history Similarly, if you’re a fan of local or family history, think about what you have right on your doorstep – old buildings, marketplaces, religious buildings etc. You could even investigate your own family history; it all counts as 'history' and you might find out something interesting!
Literature If you’re into literature, see what works you can find online – think about how the meanings of words used might change depending on the reader and when they are reading. These works don’t even need to be fictional – it can be fascinating to get an insight into how people thought in the nineteenth century by reading magazines from the time or by reading early modern wartime poetry.
Alongside sources, you might be able to find podcasts relevant to your interests – many are free and easily accessible online. Explore what’s on offer – Spotify especially has a fantastic selection e.g.
Spotify: BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time: History’ 🔗 This covers a huge variety of topics.
Spotify: Dan Snow’s ‘History Hit’ 🔗 This podcast offers interesting takes by this popular historian.
Spotify: Mike Duncan’s ‘History of Rome’ 🔗 An introduction to the ancient city of Rome.
Spotify: Mike Duncan’s ‘Revolutions’ 🔗 This looks at different social upheavals in history.
Spotify: History Extra Podcast 🔗 This podcast covers a wide variety of topics covered.
Spotify: Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Revisionist History’ 🔗 Malcolm Gladwell takes particular topics and questioning the accepted wisdom about them.
Spotify: Mythology 🔗 Explore some of the most notable historical tales from ‘Beowulf’ to the ‘Cú Chulainn’.
Future Learn 🔗 You might also be able to find some free online courses that are related to your historical interests. Have a look at what you can find on sites like Future Learn.
CrashCourse 🔗 Some short introductory videos to a wide variety of different historical events, themes, and eras. These are really useful to look at different time periods that you might not have encountered, but want to explore a bit further.
National archives 🔗 Educational resources fab for getting insight into what it might be like to be a practicing historian!
Image credit: Gonville and Caius by Akil Hashmi