Undergraduate Diploma in English Social and Local History
Do you have a passion for English history? Are you fascinated by the interweaving of historical events with the lives of ordinary people and their communities?
This course provides a stimulating introductory survey to the social history of England and the development of English local communities from the early medieval period to the late twentieth century. You will have the chance to study two topics in depth, either relating to a specific period, or to one theme over a long period of time.
The wide historical span of the course gives you scope to engage with periods in local and social history you may not yet be familiar with. We will also guide you through some of the major sources you are likely to encounter, helping build your skills of critical interpretation and your ability and confidence in undertaking independent research.
Taught mainly through residential weekends, the course makes excellent use of Oxford’s historical resources, with activities including a tour of the city’s pre-Reformation college chapels and work on 18th-century crime and punishment at Oxford Castle.
Online open event: Monday 3 April 2023
Join us on Monday 3 April 2023, from 5.30-7pm (UK time) for a virtual open event. This will give you the chance to meet the Course Director, Dr Stephen Mileson, discover more about the programme and have your questions answered.
- How you will study
- The course in detail – course content and assessment
- IT requirements
- Teaching staff and contact information
- Application details – how to apply, fees, award and credit transfer
Who is this course for?
To enjoy and do well on this course, you must have a high level of motivation, enthusiasm and interest in local history, and a willingness to devote time to study over a two-year period.
Although prior historical study will be an advantage, you do not need any formal academic qualifications in history to apply for the course. If you have little or no recent experience of study or examinations, don't be deterred, as help and guidance will be provided as part of the course. Our current and previous students come from a wide range of backgrounds, from acting to banking and from retail work to social work.
How you will study
Per year, the course is usually taught through:
- Six residential weekends of 12 hours each
- one field trip (for example to Winchester, or Bath)
- three online chat tutorials.
Most of the teaching is undertaken by the Course Director and academic staff, with support from additional specialist lecturers.
The course’s two modules (see below) alternate annually, with a new intake of about 12 students each year. This means that students in their first and second years are taught together.
Students starting the course in 2023 will study Module 2 first, followed by Module 1 in 2024-25.
This course is expected to be taught in person at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA. Should circumstances dictate, the teaching can be moved online (either fully or partly).
The course in detail
The Diploma has two modules, which divide at about the year 1660. Students can take the modules in either order.
- Module 1: English Social and Local History to c.1660
- Module 2: English Social and Local History from c.1660
Module 1: English Social and Local History to c.1660
This module covers the period from the later Anglo-Saxons (roughly c.800CE) to the Restoration of the monarchy following the Civil Wars and Republic (1640–60). Its emphasis is on the lives, occupations, beliefs and environments of people and the communities they lived in. It covers such diverse topics as church and religion, monasteries, the changing nature of towns and rural communities, the worlds of work and leisure, migration and population change, and the Black Death. Later parts cover the Reformation, social change under the Tudors and early Stuarts, and the breakdown of English society leading up to and during the Civil Wars. Additional activities usually include a tour of medieval Oxford, a visit to Oxford churches and chapels, a session at the Ashmolean Museum, and a trip to Winchester. Special subjects currently cover popular politics and rebellion, 1381-1607 and the English Civil War and Republic.
Module 2: English Social and Local History from c.1660
This module covers the period after the Restoration and up to the late 20th century. It looks at how the dramatic social changes of modernity have changed the lives of English people and their communities. Topics range from the vibrancy of Restoration society – the age of Samuel Pepys, the Great Fire of London, coffee houses, William Hogarth, and the East India Company – through the Georgian and Victorian worlds. It covers the impact of enclosure, industrialisation, and the growth of empire, as well as the wealth and poverty of Victorian England. Later topics include the impact of the World Wars, and the drastic social changes brought by the 20th century. Additional activities include a field trip to Bath, a workshop on sources about crime and poverty, and a workshop on oral history. Special subjects currently cover Family and Community in Rural England, 1650-1900 and Social Unrest and Popular Politics, 1840-1940.
Each year, you will work on:
- three essays of 2,500 words: these are traditional, university-style history essays based on a set question. You will have a choice of around six questions per essay, usually one per topic.
- one source exercise of 3,000 words: these are commentaries based on primary sources (in transcription/translation where appropriate). You will usually have a choice between three topics/sets of sources. These could include, for example, manorial court records, poor law papers or diary extracts. Students will be expected to comment on the usefulness of the sources for historians.
- one extended essay of 6,000 words: this will be set by special subject tutors. You will have a choice of around six different essay topics.
To study at this level you are expected to have some IT skills, access to a computer and the internet. Your course requires you to engage with the Virtual Learning Environment for course materials and uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. Students need to have regular access to a computer and the internet, and some level of experience and skill including the use of Microsoft Word or similar word-processing package, email and internet browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome.
The computer you use should meet our recommended minimum computer specification.
The Course Director is Dr Stephen Mileson.
Academic support will be provided by the Course Director and guidance on specific topics will be given by the tutors who teach them.
In addition to the academic support provided by course staff, the Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to enable you to develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. For further information and to book a place, please email: email@example.com or contact +44 (0)1865 280892.
For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, disability and/or special needs provision and sources of funding, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact +44 (0)1865 280355.
For queries on applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 270380 email@example.com
For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355 firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892 email@example.com
How to apply
Please click on the ‘Apply’ button which will automatically notify us that you want a link to the online application form. We will email you that link together with a code to waive the application fee, and guidance on completing and submitting your application.
You will need to upload the following documents as part of your application:
- a written statement of about 200 words stating why you wish to undertake the course.
- proof of English language ability if a non-native English speaker. Further information on English language requirements can be found here. Please note that candidates are required to have the higher-level score.
- contact details for one referee
If possible, your referee should be someone who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not appropriate, please choose a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.
Admissions decisions will be based on an assessment of knowledge, relevant experience, academic ability, potential and suitability for a course of study. We welcome applicants without traditional qualifications, including those with relevant career or life skills.
Even if a course has no specific academic entry requirements then: (a) assessment of an applicant’s academic ability and suitability for the course of study will still take place and (b) since applications for many courses often significantly exceed places available, each application will be judged against the gathered field of applicants for each course each year.
The University is committed to promoting diversity, equality, inclusion, and widening access, including during the admissions process. We fully endorse the Equality Policy and our admissions procedures are kept under regular review to ensure compliance with this policy.
Short-listed applicants will be invited for interview.
The final decision on admission to the course rests with the Department.
Award and credit transfer
An Undergraduate Diploma will be awarded on completion of the course. You will be invited to receive your Diploma at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.
Students who successfully complete this two-year course will be awarded an Oxford University Undergraduate Diploma in English Social and Local History. The Diploma carries a Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) rating of 120 points at FHEQ Level 5. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. These credit points are widely recognised in terms of credit for transfer to other higher education institutions, including the Open University and modular universities such as Oxford Brookes University.
Opportunities vary for the transfer of credit, so students who are considering taking this course in order to transfer credit are advised to discuss the possibilities with the Course Administrator on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Learn more about the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS points).
The fee for 2023-24 is £3,295 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £5,650 (Overseas students). An option to pay the fee in instalments may be available. Please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.
Information for applicants from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
If you are an EU national and do not live in the UK then you are likely to be charged Overseas fees. Students with settled and pre-settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme and some other categories of students who work in the UK can qualify for Home fee status as long as they meet the residence criteria. For more information about fee status criteria please visit the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website as well as the Oxford and the EU webpage.
Information for applicants from the Republic of Ireland
Irish nationals who have been living in the Republic of Ireland or the UK can qualify for Home fees as long as they meet the residence requirements which can be found on the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website.
UK nationals who have been living in the EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar and are returning to England to study
UK nationals living in the EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar from December 2020 until the first day of their course and for the three years before the first day of their course will also be charged Home fees subject to the requirements on the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website. Children of UK nationals will also be eligible on the same terms, even if they are not themselves UK nationals, as long as both they and their parent meet the above criteria.
Information on financial support can be found on our website here.
English language requirements
Please check the information on the specific English language requirements for this course. Applicants are required to have the higher level scores.
The Department for Continuing Education offers history day and weekend courses, weekly learning programmes and summer schools.
In the undergraduate programme we offer the Foundation Certificate in History, the Certificate of Higher Education, the Diploma in English Social and Local History and the Advanced Diploma in Local History.
At postgraduate level we offer the following programmes: Postgraduate Certificate in Architectural History, Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies, MSt in Historical Studies, MSt in the History of Design, MSt in Literature and Arts, MSc in English Local History, DPhil in Architectural History, DPhil in English Local History and the DPhil in Literature and Arts.
You may also be interested in studying History of Art.
If you are planning on embarking on a new career as a result of your studies, or hope to progress in your current field, you can access help and advice through the University Careers Service.