Foundation Certificate in History
An exciting opportunity to study History at degree level.
If you have a keen interest in history, and would like to study it at degree level, our two-year Foundation Certificate is an excellent introduction, equivalent to the first year of a full-time History degree at Oxford University.
This course will introduce you to the study of history through extended surveys of periods of modern British and European history. You will also be able to study an optional subject, such as the Spanish Civil War, in more detail. Working primarily from source material on this topic, you will have the chance to develop and refine the skills needed by a historian.
The course is taught through weekly seminars, supplemented by individual and paired tutorials. There is also one non-residential study week.
On successful completion of the Foundation Certificate, you will be able to apply for second-year entry to undergraduate history courses at the University of Oxford and other institutions. Over half of our students who have successfully finished the course have done so: their destinations include Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University, the University of Reading and Royal Holloway, University of London.
(Please note that completing the course does not give you automatic right of entry to any institution. You will still have to apply for a place, in competition with other applicants.)
Open evening: Tuesday 25 February 2020
We are holding an open evening on Tuesday 25 February 2020, 5.30-7.00 pm at Rewley House. This will give you the chance to find out more about the course and to meet the tutors. If you would like to attend, email email@example.com
Who is this course for?
To do well in this course, you must have a keen interest in history and a strong motivation to study at undergraduate level. You should have an effective command of written English and enjoy in-depth discussion of historical issues.
Relevant qualifications and evidence of recent study are things we regard favourably, but you don’t have to have formal qualifications. If you have little or no recent experience of study or exams, don’t let this put you off applying. We will take into account your academic potential, your commitment to studying the subject in a structured way, and other considerations.
How you will study
The Foundation Certificate in History course consists of weekly two-hour seminars (28 per year), held on Monday evenings.
We use a variety of teaching methods. In addition to lectures by the tutors, you will have the chance to work in small discussion groups and give short presentations on prepared topics to the class.
There is also a non-residential study week, during which you receive an intensive introduction to your chosen optional subject. For most students, the study week provides a valuable chance for full-time study, socialising with fellow students and easy access to our wide range of study facilities at Rewley House and within the University.
Essay writing is an integral part of the course. During each year of study our students write six essays and receive written feedback and tutorial support.
As well as attending classes, you are likely to need to undertake at least 12 hours of independent study per week. This will involve reading, making notes, preparing for class, writing essays and revising for exams.
In addition to attending the Foundation Certificate’s own weekly seminar programme, you can, for no extra payment, experience the wide range of lectures and seminars organised by the University’s Faculty of Modern History.
The course in detail
The Foundation Certificate in History consists of five elements:
1. British History 1485–1603
The sixteenth century was a period of turmoil and uncertainty but saw the emergence of the powerful Tudor dynasty, the birth pangs of the modern state, the establishment of a national Protestant church, an upsurge in economic growth and a flowering of the arts. Students examine the major political and religious developments of individual reigns and explore long-term changes in relations with Europe, the role of Parliament, economy and society, attitudes towards family and women and the use of culture to promote the image of monarchy.
2. British History 1900–1979
During this period Britain experienced profound political and social change: the themes studied include the impact of the two World Wars, the arrival of the Welfare State, and the end of Empire. Students also look at specific topics such as the Suffragette movement, the political extremism of the 1930s, and the debate over the post-1945 “consensus” in British politics.
3. European History 1815–1914
The nineteenth century saw the emergence of the European nation states amidst war, revolution and social conflict. This comparative course charts the major political developments of the period, but the main focus is on broad themes such as industrialisation, urbanisation and the growth of class and gender consciousness.
4. An optional subject
The optional subjects provide the opportunity for more detailed study of a specific topic using original source materials. Options previously offered include The Nobility and Gentry in England 1560-1640, The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 and The Age of Bede.
5. Approaches to History
What is history? Why do societies record and preserve their past? Students look at the evolution of history and at what historians can learn from other related disciplines such as art history, sociology and gender studies with particular reference to the social, political and religious life of nineteenth-century Britain.
Classes meet once a week on Monday evenings, starting with a pre-course induction meeting in September. There will be ten classes in the autumn and spring terms and eight classes in the summer term. There is also a study day at the start of the autumn term of the first year.
- Pre-course induction session
- Introduction to History and historical skills day
- Introduction to History (Week 1), British History 1485–1603 (Weeks 2–10)
- 2 assessed essays
- British History 1485–1603 (Weeks 1–3), European History 1815–1914 (Weeks 4–10)
- 2 assessed essays
- European History 1815–1914 (Weeks 1–6), Revision and exam preparation (Weeks 7–8)
- 2 assessed essays
- Examination in British History 1485–1603
- Examination in European History 1815–1914
- Study week (optional subject)
- 1 assessed essay
- Optional subject (Weeks 1–5), Approaches to History (Weeks 6–10)
- 2 assessed essays
- Approaches to History (Weeks 1–5), British History 1900–1979 (Weeks 6–10)
- 2 assessed essays
- British History 1900–1979 (Weeks 1–6), Revision and exam preparation (Weeks 7-8)
- 2 assessed essays
- Examinations in optional subject and British History 1900–1979
Assessment is based both on coursework (essays) and on written examinations held at the end of each of the two years.
Coursework will account for 30% of your total marks; 15% for each year. In Year 1 you will need to write six essays of up to 2,000 words each, of which the five highest marks are taken into account. In Year 2, you will write a further five essays, of which the four highest marks are taken into account. You will also write an extended essay of up to 4,000 words for the optional subject. Its grade is given double weight in the coursework assessment for the second year.
Examinations: at the end of each year there will be two three-hour unseen written exams. For the core papers, students are required to answer three questions for each examination. For the optional subject paper, students are required to answer two essay questions and two gobbet questions. The exams set at the conclusion of Year 1 account for 35% of the total marks for the course; the exams set at the end of Year 2 account for a further 35%.
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 Directors are Professor Tom Buchanan and Dr Christine Jackson.
Tom Buchanan is Professor of Modern British and European 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 Jackson is Associate Professor in History at OUDCE and Fellow of Kellogg College. She teaches modern British history c.1500-1900 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.
Much of the academic support you receive will come from the Course Directors, whom you can contact at any time during office hours. In addition, the Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops, for full details of the programme please contact +44 (0)1865 280892.
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 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 +44 (0)1865 280154.
If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before applying you may contact:
Professor Tom Buchanan: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)1865 270382
Dr Christine Jackson: email@example.com +44 (0)1865 270295
Applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 280154 firstname.lastname@example.org
For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355 email@example.com
For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892 firstname.lastname@example.org
How to apply
Please use the apply button on this page to download the application form, which includes a reference form. You should complete the reference form and send it to your referee, asking him/her to provide a reference by direct email to us. Please note that the reference is compulsory and we cannot consider your application without it.
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.
Please complete the rest of the application form and send it to the address below with the following additional materials:
- A written statement of about 300–400 words stating why you wish to undertake the course.
- Your CV
- Proof of your English language ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant (see below for more information).
Please send your application with the additional materials to:
Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University
Oxford OX2 7DD
The application deadlines are Thursday 5 March 2020 and Thursday 7 May 2020, but please do not leave it too late to contact us – we suggest you apply in advance of the deadline.
Interviews will take place in April, June and September (if places remain). Late applications may be considered if places are available. The final decision on admission rests with the Department.
Use the apply button on this page to download the application and reference forms.
Award and credit transfer
A Foundation Certificate will be awarded on completion of the course. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. You will be invited to receive your Foundation Certificate at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.
The syllabus and teaching of the course are aimed at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4). A Foundation Certificate in History (120 CATS points) will be awarded to students on completion of the two years of the course. If you require information about transfer of credit, please contact the Course Administrator on +44 (0)1865 2800154 or email@example.com
The fee for 2020-21 is £2,825 (Home / EU students) or £4,840 (non-EU students). An option to pay the fee in instalments will be available. The fee includes all tuition 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 may be available at an additional cost. There may be a small increase in the fee for the second year of the course.
Following an announcement by the Universities Minister on 28 May 2019, EU students commencing their studies in 2020/21 academic year will be charged fees at the home rate for the duration of their course, whether a deal for leaving the EU is in place or not.
Information on financial support can be found on our website here.
The Department for Continuing Education offers history day and weekend courses, weekly classes, online short courses 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 a 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, and MSc in English Local History along with the DPhil in Architectural History, DPhil in English Local History and 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.
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.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.
English language requirements
Check information on the specific English language requirements for this course.
Applicants are required to have the Higher level scores.