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Foundation Certificate in History

Key facts

TypeOxford Qualification - Part-time
DatesMon 29 Sep 2014 to Sun 31 Jul 2016
Subject area(s)History
FeesFees for 2014-2015 are £2,235 (EU students) and £3,820 (Non-EU students). (You may pay by instalment.)
Application statusApplications being accepted
Application deadlineThu 31 July 2014
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk.


The two-year Foundation Certificate in History is equivalent to the first year of the full-time degree in History at Oxford University. This history course offers an exciting opportunity for part-time study at degree level, and students who successfully complete it are eligible to apply for second-year entry to undergraduate history courses at the University of Oxford and other institutions.

Past students have progressed from the course to join history degree programmes at second-year level at the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, the University of Reading and Royal Holloway, University of London.

Students are introduced to the study of history through extended surveys of periods of modern British and European history. Source-based optional subjects provide an opportunity to explore major topics in greater depth and to develop and refine the skills needed by the historian. Students are also encouraged to reflect upon the nature and purpose of history by tracing the development of historical writing and exploring cross-fertilisations between history and other academic disciplines.

The history course is taught through a programme of weekly seminars, supplemented by individual and paired tutorials.

Over half the students who have successfully completed the Department’s Foundation Certificate in History have transferred to study a full-time degree at Oxford colleges or entered full or part-time degree courses at other universities. Others have opted to pursue their academic interests further within Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education. It is important to note, however, that successful completion of the course does not confer automatic right of entry to any institution. Acceptance by an Oxford college or any other institution will continue to be at the discretion of their Admissions Tutors and will be in competition with applicants for the three-year degree course.

Open Evening

There will be an Open Evening on Tuesday 13 May 2014, from 6pm to 8pm, when you are welcome to visit the Department to meet the course directors and discuss the course.


Who is this history course for?

Successful candidates are mature individuals who can show, both in their application and at interview, strong motivation to undertake the course and a keen interest in history. They will also demonstrate an effective command of written English and the ability to discuss historical issues.

Over the past decade students have come from a variety of backgrounds and have taken the course to satisfy a wide range of ambitions and objectives. Relevant qualifications and evidence of recent study will normally be favourably regarded, but formal qualifications are not essential. Academic potential, commitment and other considerations will also be taken into account. Whether it is to progress to a full degree, to change direction through study, or to satisfy a personal ambition, we welcome applications from all students wishing to pursue their interest in history in a structured and disciplined manner.

For one student's experience of the course please click on our student spotlight
Student Support
If you have little or no recent experience of study or examinations you should not be deterred from applying for a place on the course. Tutors are familiar with the problems faced by those returning to study and are able to provide academic support and guidance. The Course Directors may be contacted at any time during office hours by students wishing to discuss matters relating to the course.The Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to enable you to develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. For full details, contact 01865 280892.

Programme details

Tuition and Study

On Monday 29 September 2014 there will be an introductory meeting before the course begins on Monday 6 October. The Foundation Certificate in History course consists of 28 weekly seminars of two hours' duration on Monday evenings from 7.00-9.00pm.

A variety of teaching methods will be used. In addition to lectures by the tutors, there will be the opportunity to work in small discussion groups and to give short presentations on prepared topics to the class.

Students also attend a compulsory non-residential study week where they receive an intensive introduction to their chosen optional subject. For most students, the study week provides a rare opportunity for full-time study, informal socialising with fellow students and easy access to the wide range of study facilities available at Rewley House and within the University.

Essay writing is an integral part of the course. Students write seven essays during each year of study, and receive written feedback and tutorial support. It is anticipated that, in addition to attending classes, students are likely to need to undertake at least twelve hours of independent study per week. This will involve reading, making notes, preparing for class, writing essays and revising for examinations.

University Lectures

In addition to attending the Foundation Certificate’s own weekly seminar programme, students are also entitled, for no extra payment, to attend the wide range of lectures and seminars organised by the University’s Faculty of Modern History.

Course Content

The Foundation Certificate in History course consists of five elements:

1 British History 1485-1603

From the usurpation of the crown by Henry VII, following his victory at Bosworth field, to the lonely death of Elizabeth I, without a named successor, Tudor Britain saw far-reaching changes in government, church, economy and society. The achievements of the Tudor dynasty were considerable but their years of power were also plagued by turmoil and uncertainty. Students examine the successes and failures of the reigns of individiual Tudor monarchs with particular emphasis upon the development of government; religious reformation; relations with other European states and social and economic policy. The course also explores broad themes spanning the 'long sixteenth century'. These will include: political opposition and rebellion; changing attitudes towards family and women; town and city; population growth and the relief of poverty; and the use of culture to buttress the image of monarchy.

2 British History 1900-1979

During this period Britain experienced profound political and social change: the impact of two world wars, the introduction of universal suffrage, the sudden arrival of the Labour Party as a governing force, the creation of the Welfare State, and the retreat from Empire after 1945. The course examines the nature of these changes, as well as examining the significant elements of continuity, such as the dominance of the Conservative Party in the inter-war years and in the 1950s. There is also an opportunity to assess the role of leading politicians such as David Lloyd George, Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher.

3 European History 1815-1914

The nineteenth century saw the development of the European nation states amid other changes wrought by industrialisation, urbanisation and growing consciousness of class, gender and national identity. Beginning with the Napoleonic Wars, the course also encompasses the “long peace” of the 1820s and 1830s, the Revolutions of 1848, the unification of Germany and Italy, and the struggle for stability in the years before the First World War. Students are provided with a chronological framework for the period, but the main focus is on themes which span many decades and countries. The themes include Liberalism and the middle classes, Socialism and the working classes, and patterns of industrial and urban development.
4 Approaches to History

The study of history has evolved over time. In Year 1, the course examines the evolution of historical writing from early times to the modern day, with particular emphasis upon the development of history as a systematic academic discipline. Students consider the purpose of the study of history, receive an introduction to some aspects of research methodology, and learn how to evaluate the reliability of both the historical record and historical writing.

In year two, students will examine recent developments in historical writing and explore the inter-relationship between history and other disciplines such as archaeology, local history, art history, architectural history and gender studies. Material will be drawn largely, though not exclusively, from the social, political and religious life of the nineteenth century.

5 Optional subject

The optional subjects offer the opportunity for more detailed study of a specific topic. Students work primarily from original source material, where necessary in translation or modern transcription, and learn to evaluate historical evidence in a practical setting.

Option One: The Nobility and Gentry in England, 1560-1640

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw considerable fluctuations in the fortunes of many noble and gentry families as they struggled to adapt to changing political, economic and social conditions. Whilst some members of the landed elite found the attractions of court life or public service irresistible, others preferred to concentrate upon estate management and family responsibilities. Students use a range of contemporary sources, including diaries, autobiographies, commonplace books, and letters, together with case studies and visual sources such as portraits, to gain an insight into the position, ambitions and lifestyles of the nobility and gentry. Topics covered include: the contemporary preoccupation with status and lineage, political careers at court and in the localities, the chivalric ideal, marital alliances and family relationships, religious nonconformity, and the role of art and architecture in promoting the self-image of the nobility and gentry.

Option Two: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

The Spanish Civil War, which came to be seen as a struggle between Fascism and Democracy, divided not only the Spanish people, but also European and world opinion. Studying the Civil War allows one to understand the ideologies and passions that animated Europe in the 1930s. This course examines the origins of the Civil War within Spanish history, and assesses the reasons for Franco's eventual victory, as well as examining the Civil War's international political and cultural impact. Students work from primary sources, including eye-witness accounts such as George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, extracts from Spanish documents in translation and propaganda posters from the period.

Course Structure

Classes meet once a week at 7pm on Monday evenings, starting with a pre-course induction meeting on 29 September 2014.There will be ten classes in the autumn and spring terms and eight classes in the summer term. There is also a compulsory study day at the start of the autumn term.


Pre-course induction session 29 September 2014

Michaelmas Term (6 Oct - 8 Dec 2014)

Introduction to History (1), British History 1485-1603 (2-10)

1 unassessed essay, 2 assessed essays

Introduction to History and Historical Skills Day Saturday 11 October 2014 10am - 5pm

Hilary Term (12 Jan - 16 March 2015)

British History 1815-1914 (1-3), European History 1815-1914 (4-12)

2 assessed essays

Trinity Term (13 April - 8 June 2015)

European History 1815-1914 (1-4), Revision & exam preparation (5-6)

2 assessed essays

Examinations in British History 1485-1603 and European History 1815-1914 June 2015 dates tbc


Study week (Optional subject) 7 - 11 September 2015

1 assessed essay

Michaelmas Term 2015

Optional subject (1-5), Approaches to History (6-10)

2 assessed essays

Hilary Term 2016

Approaches to History (1-5), British History 1900-1979 (6-10)

2 assessed essays

Trinity Term 2016

British History 1900-1979 (1-8), Revision & exam preparation (9-10)

2 assessed essays

Mid-late June 2016

Examinations in Optional Subject and British History 1900-1979

Course aims

Aims and Learning Outcomes

The Foundation Certificate in History course is designed to provide a structured introduction to the study of history and to enable students to develop both historical skills and knowledge.

By the end of the course it is anticipated that students will have:

• acquired a broad knowledge and understanding of the periods of British and European history studied
• investigated key topics in greater depth
• undertaken a source-based study of a selected period or topic
• explored the problems surrounding the interpretation of historical sources and acquired some of the skills needed to evaluate them critically
• developed the analytical and communication skills needed to present historical argument orally and in writing.


Credit Transfer Scheme

Students who successfully complete this two-year course will be awarded an Oxford University Foundation Certificate in History, equivalent to 120 CATS points at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4) in the Department’s Qualifications and Credit Framework. These credit points are widely recognised in terms of credit for transfer to other Higher Education institutions, including the Open University and module universites 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 Department’s Registry on 01865 280355.

Assessment methods


Assessment is based both on coursework (essays submitted during the period of study) and on written examinations, held at the end of each of the two years. Full attendance is required at a minimum of 75% of the total number of the weekly seminars, and during the study week.

This will account for 30% of the total marks; 15% for each year. The first coursework essay is unassessed, but thereafter students are required to write six essays of up to 2,000 words each in Year 1, of which the five highest marks are taken into account. In Year 2, students are required to write a further five essays, of which the four highest marks are taken into account. In addition, students write an extended essay of up to 4,000 words for the Optional Subject, and its grade is given double weight in the coursework assessment for the second year.

At the end of each year there will be two three-hour written examinations. Students are required to answer three questions on each paper. The examinations set at the conclusion of Year One account for 35% of the total marks for the course; the examinations set at the end of Year Two account for a further 35%.

University Lectures
In addition to attending the Foundation Certificate’s own weekly seminar programme, students are also entitled, for no extra payment, to attend the wide range of lectures and seminars organised by the University’s Faculty of History.

Student Support
If you have little or no recent experience of study or examinations you should not be deterred from applying for a place on the course. Tutors are familiar with the problems faced by those returning to study and are able to provide academic support and guidance. The Course Directors may be contacted by email or phone (during office hours) by students wishing to discuss matters relating to the course. The Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to enable you to develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. For full details, contact 01865 280892.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Teaching methods

Teaching Staff

The course directors are Dr Tom Buchanan and Dr Christine Jackson. Where appropriate, additional teaching staff are recruited by the Department.

Tom Buchanan is Reader in Modern History at OUDCE and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He primarily teaches British and European history since 1815. He has a particular research interest in the Spanish Civil War, and is the author of three books which examine the impact on Britain of that conflict.

Christine Jacksonis University Lecturer in History at OUDCE and Fellow of Kellogg College. She teaches modern British history c1500-1900 and writes on the social and economic history of the 16th and 17th centuries. She has a particular interest in urban history and has published articles and a recent book on Berkshire towns and articles on the historical writings of Lord Herbert of Cherbury.

Student Support
Much of the academic support will come from the Course Directors, who may be contacted at any time during office hours by students wishing to discuss matters relating to the course. In addition, the Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to enable you to develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. These workshops are free to students enrolled on the Foundation course. For full details of the programme please contact 01865 280892.

Contact Information

Course Directors
If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before making your application you may contact the following:

Dr Tom Buchanan 01865 270382 tom.buchanan@conted.ox.ac.uk

Dr Christine Jackson 01865 270295 christine.jackson@conted.ox.ac.uk

Award Programme Office 01865 280154 / 270369
For queries on applications and admissions ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk

Student Advice 01865 280355
For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision, residential category and sources of funding: registry@conted.ox.ac.uk

Study Skills 01865 280892
For information about Study Skills courses: studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

Day & Weekend School Office 01865 270368 / 270380
For information on day schools and weekend courses: dayweek@conted.ox.ac.uk

OUDCE Reception 01865 270360
For general enquiries about OUDCE or to leave messages if other staff are not available.

Apply for this course

How to apply for the Foundation Certificate in History

Please complete the application form, and submit your additional materials: (1) A written statement of about 300 to 400 words stating why you wish to undertake the course. (2) You will also need to provide a reference. If possible, your referee should be a person who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not appropriate, please name a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable. (3) Proof of your English Language Ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant.

Please read the instructions on the reference form carefully. When you have received your reference, please return the sealed envelope with your application form and written statement (referred to above) by 31 July 2014 to:

Award Programme Administrator
Rewley House
1 Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JA.

The closing date for all applications is 31 July 2014, but please do not leave it too late to contact us - we suggest you apply in advance of the application deadline. Interview dates are 12 -13 June and 5 September 2014 (if places remain). Late applications will be considered if places are available. The final decision on admission to the course rests with OUDCE.

Click here to download the application and reference form

Non-EU students

This course is not suitable for non-EU students who do not already live in the UK before the course begins. For information, refer to www.ukvisas.gov.uk.

English language requirements

All teaching at the University of Oxford is carried out in English (with the exception of some language-specific teaching) and tutors must be convinced that you have sufficient fluency in written and spoken English to cope with your course from the start. Therefore, all non-native English-speaking applicants (other than those who have been educated in the medium of English language during their two most recent years of study) must satisfy the following requirements:

• IELTS: overall score of 7.0 (with at least 7.0 in each of the four components) or
• TOEFL (paper based): overall score of 600, with a Test of Written English score of 5.5 or
• TOEFL (computer-based): overall score of 250, with Test of Written English score of 5.5 or
• TOEFL (internet-based): overall score of 100 or
• Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): grade A or
• Cambridge Certificate for Proficiency in English (CPE): grade B or
• English Language GCSE, IGCSE or O-level: grade B or
• International Baccalaureate Standard level (SL): score of 5 in English
• European Baccalaureate: score of 70% in English.


The fee for 2014-2015 will be £2,235 (EU students) or £3,820 (non-EU students), payable in instalments with a non-refundable deposit of £200 (Home/EU students) or £350 (Non-EU students) being required on acceptance. The fee includes all tuition as well as participation in the six day schools (including meals) and, on a non-residential basis, the summer school. Lunches and the end-of-term dinner on Friday evening during the summer school are also included in the fee; accommodation can be provided at an additional cost. There may be a small increase in the fee for the second year of the course.

Funding and financial assistance

For information on student funding, please visit our website: www.conted.ox.ac.uk and follow links to `students’ and `sources of funding’. You will find information on student loans, bursaries and Professional and Career Development Loans as well as details of external sources of funding.

For more detailed information on all of the above, contact the Registry on 01865 280355 or registry@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Please read our Terms and Conditions and Student Contract before applying for this course.
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