England.  Change location

BA (Honours) History and Politics - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

We aim to:

  • explain what the academic study of History and Politics is all about 
  • teach a range of skills and methods relevant to the study of History, Politics and related areas of development and international relations.
  • give you a good grounding in the history of the British Isles, Continental Europe and the wider world with an emphasis on the period after 1750 as well as in different approaches to the social sciences, the politics of development and international relations.
  • allow you to combine historical and social science approaches to understand  the roots and implications of local as well as global issues and dilemmas. 
  • allow you to combine historical study with interdisciplinary work and enable you to explore the intersection of History and political science/international relations. 
  • train you in theoretically informed analysis, synthesis and communication of your knowledge and understanding to a range of audiences and in a range of formats including essays, reports and synopses.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • patterns of conflict and cooperation, order and disorder in the international system, including questions of war, security and international cooperation and governance, and contending ideas about the potential for, and sources of, those. 
  • historical development of the state system and the international economy and debates in economics and politics around their growth, change and transformation
  • history as a systematic and reflective discipline producing bodies of knowledge about the past, these being constantly subject to controversy and debate. 
  • aspects of global politics and history drawn from the period since 1750.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • define and use key concepts, abstract models and theories from politics and history as well as related areas of international relations, development and economics, to study the historical and contemporary societal processes and outcomes.
  • analyse complex issues in global history and politics and synthesise and critically evaluate different kinds of evidence from a variety of sources to develop detailed, reasoned arguments
  • critically compare and evaluate competing ideas, arguments and theories and approaches used in historical and political analysis.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • confidently select, summarise and synthesise information from a range of materials and sources and interpret, read and record/note appropriately
  • express and present complex ideas succinctly and clearly in written form in a coherent and organised manner to develop a logical, substantiated and sustained argument, with sources referenced appropriately
  • perform basic numerical operations and interpret basic descriptive statistics in tables, graphs and diagrams showing awareness of the range of interpretations they might be used to support
  • independently search for, access, critically evaluate and prepare information from a range of sources, including using a range of ICT applications and tools
  • identify and use sources of support and feedback to reflect upon your learning.

Key skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • work without constant direction, in a variety of settings, to assess tasks and make plans across a programme of work and be able to reflect on, plan and use your time strategically in order to fulfil those tasks
  • work independently and in collaboration with others, demonstrating effective communication and adaptability
  • make informed, reasoned choices and judgments applicable to a wide range of situations based on an understanding of historical and political issues 
  • carry out independent research using concepts, models, theories and evidence to address a question or problem about historical development or political controversy.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

In the programme a range of different types of assessment is used and most modules adopt the normal OU weighting of 50% continuous assessment and 50% examinable component. The tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) that make up the continuous assessment component may take the form of essays, extended essays, short-answer questions, statistical and computer exercises, drafts of independent work, and book reviews, depending on the module and the level. (For example, you are more likely to be asked to complete an extended TMA based on independent study at OU level 3 than at OU level 2.) The examinable component may take the form of a traditional three-hour unseen examination or a project or dissertation or other piece of independently researched work.