Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Local History (Online)

Key facts

We are now closed to applications for 2018

Deadlines for applications are 18 January 2018, 8 March 2018, and 10 May 2018. 

Later applications will be considered if places remain.


Level: Third-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 6) 

Mode: Part-time, Online

Start date: Tuesday 18 September, 2018

Duration: One year

Fees 2018-19

Home/EU £2,610

Overseas £4,470

Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Local History (Online)

The Advanced Diploma in Local History is a one-year part-time course which aims to train students in key concepts and methods of historical studies. The course is at FHEQ Level 6, equivalent to study in the third year at a university in the UK.

The course is delivered entirely online so students have the advantage of working at home while having access to course material, to their tutor, and to fellow students. Oxford University's programme of online courses brings the quality of education and scholarship which the University represents to those living far from Oxford and those who cannot attend regular classes.

Who is this course for?

Students taking the Advanced Diploma come from a wide variety of backgrounds; they may live in any part of Britain, or worldwide; and they can be of any age. What all have in common is an enthusiasm for local history and a commitment to learning, and the variety of student experience provides a lively and stimulating study environment.

Many people take the course in order to learn how to use original sources and databases for their own research into local and family history. History teachers and local studies librarians are likely to find the course professionally useful. The transferable nature of the skills acquired will be valuable to people from a wide range of occupations, as well as those who are retired or not currently in employment.

The Advanced Diploma in Local History is a qualification with especial relevance to those pursuing careers in the historical and archives sector. Past students have progressed to employment in a number of related fields, including as historians and in the heritage industry.

Students get the opportunity, with the help of their tutor, to produce their own piece of local historical research, and some of these have been developed into articles for scholarly journals.

The Advanced Diploma can also be taken to prepare for a higher degree such as Oxford University's part-time MSc in English Local History or Master's programmes at other universities.

The Open University recommends this course as preparation for its online MA in History.

Course syllabus

The course begins with a short preparatory unit, available from 25 September 2018, to familiarise you with study and discussion online. Module 1 begins in October 2018 and Module 2 in March 2019.

Module 1: Concepts and Methods of Local History

This module will comprise eight units, making extensive use of original sources and case studies. There will be four written assignments, giving students an opportunity to practise historical skills and to write some local history. The units cover approaches to local history, finding primary and secondary sources, the critical use of evidence, personal testimony as a source, a practical guide to the use of statistics for history and the use of Excel, record linkage, and effective writing and publication.

Advanced Diploma in Local History Full Programme Details

Module 2: Databases for Historians

The second module consists of six units and uses data sets for two contrasting communities, the Lancashire port of Liverpool 1650-1750 and the Oxfordshire market town of Woodstock in the 17th century, as well as criminal records for London from the Old Bailey online database. There will be one written assignment and a final project comprising a longer piece of historical writing using data analysis. Students will practice methods for querying existing databases, then move on to learn how to design, create and use their own database for the analysis of historical data. Two further units introduce some of the exciting ways in which historians are now using databases, with up-to-date examples.

Advanced Diploma in Local History Full Programme Details

Course aims

The aims of the Advanced Diploma in Local History (Online) are:

  • to provide an understanding of the nature of local history and of its relationship to other branches of historical studies
  • to develop an awareness of, and a critical approach to, a wide range of historical evidence
  • to provide and develop the skills needed for historical research, especially the manipulation of large amounts of information using spreadsheets and databases
  • to teach you to use what you have learned to produce good, scholarly historical writing.

Award and credit transfer

Successful students will be awarded an Oxford University Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Local History. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. 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. This happy occasion provides an opportunity to meet your tutor and fellow students in person.

The Advanced Diploma carries a Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) rating of 60 points at FHEQ Level 6. You may be able to transfer these credit points to other HE institutions. If you are considering taking advantage of transferring credit, you are recommended to consult our Student Support Officer (email: registry@conted.ox.ac.uk or tel: 01865 280355).

Open University credit

The Open University Arts Faculty has approved the Advanced Diploma in Local History as part of its Collaborative Scheme. This course can count towards the FHEQ Level 6 element of the Open University’s BA in History. It is advisable to check with the OU on the level and the amount of credit that you are permitted to transfer into any OU degree.

The Open University also recommends this course as preparation for its MA in History, especially if you have an undergraduate degree without honours or in a subject other than History. Further information is available from the OU Regional Centres, the Credit Transfer Centre or the OU website: www.open.ac.uk.

We do not recommend that you try to study more than one 60 CATS point course at a time. Please see the Department's policy on concurrent study.

Assessment methods

The award of the Advanced Diploma is based on successfully completing the five written assignments and the final project. There is no written examination. All students are strongly encouraged to participate in the group discussions and activities which are an essential part of the course.

Course Director

Dr Jonathan Healey, Associate Professor in Social History, Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

Recommended reading

The books listed here are all on the course reading list. They provide a good introduction to Local History and to the kind of reading recommended for the course.

  • Kate Tiller, English Local History: an Introduction (Sutton paperback, 2nd edition 2002, ISBN 0750927143). The standard introduction to English local history, from Anglo-Saxons to the 20th century
  • John Tosh, The Pursuit of History (Longman paperback, 5th edn 2009, ISBN 9780582894129). This widely used textbook is recommended for its coverage and for its approachable style.
  • Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath (Yale paperback, 2003, ISBN 0300098251). A fascinating study of the Reformation in a tiny Tudor village.
  • Sonja Cameron & Sarah Richardson, Using Computers in History (Palgrave paperback, 2005, ISBN 1403934169). A jargon-free guide to computing skills for anyone interested in history.
  • Pat Hudson, History by Numbers (Hodder Arnold paperback, 2000, ISBN 0340614684). Introducing some of the ways historians use quantitative information, which is one of the themes of this course.
  • Anyone returning to study after a period of time away will find it helpful to look at Andrew Northedge, The Good Study Guide (Open University paperback, 2005 or earlier editions, ISBN 0749259744).

Study format

All the course material will be provided on the course website. In addition to the course units it will include readings, documents, spreadsheets and database files. You will also have access to a wide range of online resources. A reading list of recommended books will be sent to you well in advance.

The units will be published on the course website and studied in sequence. Normally you will have two weeks to study each unit, and within this framework you will be free to study in your own time and at your own pace. Details of the course timetable will be provided on enrolment. Your study of each unit will be guided by the online material and will involve a mixture of downloading and studying selected passages from historical sources, exploring wider reading online or in a library, doing self-study exercises with spreadsheets and databases, and participating in online discussion with your tutor and fellow students. You must also complete your assignments and submit them via the course website for assessment by the dates stipulated.

The Advanced Diploma is a rewarding and challenging course demanding a sustained commitment over one year. Applicants should ensure that they will be able to devote adequate time to study in the light of their other commitments. The time needed will vary, but you should be prepared to commit at least 12 hours a week from September 2018 to July 2019.

Read comments from two students that have completed the course.

Tutorial support

A feature of study at the University of Oxford has always been the ready availability of a tutor to assist you with your studies. That tradition is continued with this online learning course. You will be assigned to a tutorial group of about 15 students, led by a tutor with whom you can communicate via e-mail or the online conferencing system for general advice and for assistance with any problems. Your tutor will also mark your assignments and provide feedback on your progress. An experienced IT Help team is available to advise on any technical problems.

Course Fees

The course fees for 2018-19 are £2,610 (Home/EU) £4,470 (non-EU). A non-refundable deposit of £200 must be paid on acceptance of a place. The remainder of the fee can be paid in one instalment, due 1 October 2018, or in 5 equal instalments from 1 October 2018 to 1 February 2019 inclusive. The fee includes all online course materials and tuition. For further information about methods of fee payment and refunds, please contact the Online Courses Manager at internetcourses@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Who should apply?

There are no formal entry qualifications for the Advanced Diploma in Local History but you should have some experience of local history at undergraduate level or its equivalent. This might have been gained through taking a course, or through research into family or local history using sources in libraries and record offices, for example. If you are in any doubt about your experience, please contact internetcourses@conted.ox.ac.uk for advice.

You should have a lively interest in localities and communities in the past. The course teaches historical research and writing skills relevant to local history. It is not a family history course but students pursuing family history may find it useful for their own interests.

Applicants should be familiar with the use of computers for purposes such as word-processing, using e-mail and searching the Internet. It is also essential to have some experience of Access, Excel, or other database or spreadsheet program before starting the Advanced Diploma. Short introductory courses are often available locally.

The content of the course is entirely devoted to English local history, although the skills learned may be applied more widely and the final project may concern the local history of an area of the student's own choosing. Students outside Britain are welcome to apply but should understand that some knowledge of British history, society and institutions will be assumed.

Completing the application form

Please use the 'Apply' button to obtain the application and reference form. Download the application form and once completed you should email it to internetcourses@conted.ox.ac.uk, putting your name and the course title in the subject field. You should also email the following additional materials to internetcourses@conted.ox.ac.uk

1. A written statement of 300 to 400 words stating why you wish to study Local History at this level.

2. Proof of your English Language Ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant.

You will also need to arrange for two references to be emailed to us; we do not request references for you. If possible, your referees should be people who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not appropriate, please choose referees who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

The receipt of your application will be acknowledged via email. If you appear to be suitable for the course, we will send you instructions by e-mail for the second stage of the application process where you will be asked to write a short commentary on a given Local History text and to return your work to us as an e-mail attachment. We will normally inform you within three weeks of receipt of your written commentary and both references whether you have been offered a place on the course. Places are offered on a first-come, first-served basis to suitable applicants as they complete the application process.

The deadlines for the 2018 intake are Thursday 8 March 2018 and Thursday 10 May 2018. This a popular course so we recommend you apply by the earlier deadline. The final decision on admission to the course rests with OUDCE.

For the computing facilities you will need, please read Computing Facilities Required.

If your first language is not English please review the University's English Language Requirements below.

All the Department's Online Short Courses are developed by our Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL) unit. To learn more, please see the TALL website.

English language requirements

English is the language of instruction for all courses offered at Oxford. You must submit evidence that you meet the University’s English language requirements for your course if your first language is not English, or if your first language is English but you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). List: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America.

You do not need to submit test results, or request a waiver, if your first language is English and you have always been a resident and citizen of the UK, Ireland or any other majority English-speaking country (see list above).

Score Requirements (Standard Level)

The University only accepts certain standardised tests with results at or above the following scores. Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. The score requirements in each test are as follows:

  • IELTS Academic (Institution Code: 0713): overall score of 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in each of the four components).

  • TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490): overall score of 100 with component scores of at least: Listening 22, Reading 24, Speaking 25, and Writing 24.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Overall score of at least 185, with a minimum of 176 per component.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Overall score of at least 185 with a minimum of 176 per component.

Asking for a waiver of the requirement

Exemptions from this requirement may be waived if you have completed, or are currently completing, a degree-level course that is full-time, at least 9 months and undertaken at a recognised institution where teaching and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English.

Please click here for further information.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support