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Students looking at historic manuscripts

Hands on, minds on – students learning about New Zealand history at Macmillan Brown Library with Art Collections Curator, Lydia Baxendell. Artwork credit: John Cleveley, View of Charlotte Sound in New Zealand in the South Seas, 1778, Aquatint engraving, UC/MBL/0394, UC Art Collection.


History is more than the study of the past; it is a living creative act. History explores past events in order to inform us about who we are and what is happening today. History gives us our cultural roots. It helps us understand ourselves, our neighbours, our nation, other cultures and the world, enabling us to become truly global citizens. We learn a lot from history, and this knowledge helps us to avoid the mistakes of the past and make better decisions for the future, just as we learn from our own experiences.

Studying History supplies students with the skills to analyse complex evidence, present evidence-based arguments and put things in perspective. Such skills developed from studying History can be applied in many careers, as well as to all walks of life.

History is a big subject, at the very heart of the humanities. Everything has a history, and every history can be challenged by a fresh mind. Some types of history and historical evidence are also part of the social sciences, such as Political Science and International Relations, Sociology, and Law (which is a form of 'applied history'). The study of languages and literature is enhanced by knowing about their cultural and historical contexts. Historians too often use techniques and results from other disciplines. History is a supremely interdisciplinary subject.

Why study History at UC?

The History Department at UC has received two Marsden Fund research awards and an early career researcher award in recent years.

Our Arts Internships programme champions work-based experience, enabling History students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations and further their career goals.

History has no formal prerequisites. However, a good level of English literacy and writing skills and a willingness to read widely and think hard about problems in the past, are expected.


See all History courses

100-level courses

A wide choice of subject matter and a very flexible degree structure are offered. 100-level courses enable students to understand the big issues relating to an area or topic, and provide fundamental research and analytical skills.

To advance to 200-level History, students need to complete 15 points in History with a B grade or better, or 30 points in History (and/or Ancient History – CLAS 111 and CLAS 112). Or students need to have obtained a B average in 60 points in any subject. 

200-level and beyond

Courses available at 200 and 300-level offer further topics in European, American, Asian, New Zealand, and world history. They also cover Australian history, feminist history, the history of war and Māori tribal history.

Focusing more closely on specific topics, 200 and 300-level courses equip students with more advanced skills in the interpretation of evidence, research and the evaluation of competing arguments.

Further study

To qualify for entry into Bachelor of Arts with Honours and Master of Arts degrees, which offer a wide range of topics and may include a thesis, students must attain a satisfactory standard in two appropriate courses at 300-level. Honours students in History can include courses from other Arts subjects.

Postgraduate scholarships enable exceptional students to proceed to the MA or PhD, either at UC or overseas. Members of the teaching staff will be glad to give more information or to talk over the possibilities.

Career opportunities

History graduates leave university with a distinctive mix of skills which are useful in almost any job involving discovery, analysis, interpretation, independent thought and communication. Studying History allows you to practise making balanced and impartial judgements, considering multiple perspectives and materials.

The Department of History places great importance on training students in research, writing, digital skills and oral presentation. These are the general skills employers most want.

History graduates enjoy a wide variety of career destinations including those in the media (such as journalism and broadcasting), government, Treaty of Waitangi affairs, international relations, arts, culture, heritage, archives, politics, public policy, writing, editing, PR, communications, conservation, tourism, teaching, community development, digital industry, publishing, design, business innovation, advertising or marketing.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in History.

More information

Department of History

Phone +64 3 369 3377
Email artsdegreeadvice@canterbury.ac.nz

5th Floor, Karl Popper building - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

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