Undergraduate Diploma in English Social and Local History

Key facts

Level: Undergraduate

Mode: Part-time

Duration: 2 years

Applications deadlines: By 7.00pm GMT/BST on Thursday 18 January 2018, Thursday 8 March 2018 and Thursday 10 May 2018.

Late applications are currently being accepted.  Late applications will be considered as they are received.

Undergraduate Diploma in English Social and Local History

A 2-year, part-time survey course, at FHEQ Level 5 (equivalent to 2nd year undergraduate).


This course provides an introductory survey to the social history of England, and to the development of English local communities from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century. In addition to surveying the major developments in English social and local history, it will guide students through some of the major sources they are likely to encounter in their own local and social historical research. It will provide the opportunity to study two in-depth topics, either relating to a specific period, or to one theme over a long period of time.

Modules will alternate annually, but there will be a new intake of students each year. Thus each year will see students in their first and second years taught together, as is the case with the course currently.  As with the previous iteration of the course, the course aims to recruit around 10 students a year, and thus have 20 in flow at any one time.

Students who successfully complete the course will be awarded a Diploma in English Social and Local History equivalent to 120 CATS points at FHEQ Level 5.

Open evening

An open evening for the Undergraduate Diploma in Social and Local History will take place on 18 January 2018, at Rewley House, between 6-8pm. Join us to meet the Course Director, learn about the programme and have your questions answered. To reserve a place, please email ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk

Course aims

The aims for the course are:

  • To provide a survey of the main themes of English Social and Local History from the later Anglo-Saxon period to the twentieth century.
  • To introduce a wide variety of documentary, archaeological and other sources used in studying the social history, and to help you to interpret them critically.
  • To prepare you for further study of history, especially social and/or local history, at a more advanced level.
  • To awaken your interest in areas and periods of social and local history which you may not yet have encountered.
  • To give the opportunity to experience diverse forms of engagement with historical material, including partnerships with museums and heritage partners.
  • To develop the analytical and logical communication skills needed to present historical arguments.
  • To build on the varied academic and professional experiences of people from differing backgrounds.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

At the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • Be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of the main themes and sources of English social and local history.
  • Know where to look for further information on a particular topic.
  • Be able to compare the history of one region with another and fit the history of a local community into a wider national framework.
  • Be equipped and know how to undertake independent work in local history.
  • Be able to analyse and interpret a variety of documentary and non-documentary sources and to relate one to the other.
  • Be able to understand and evaluate conflicting uses and interpretations of evidence.
  • Have developed an awareness of continuity and change within local communities.
  • Have developed an empathy with earlier periods of history enabling you to avoid making judgements based on contemporary values.
  • Be able to think coherently and analytically and be able to communicate the results in structured and logical written or oral argument.
  • Be able to work independently and manage the use of your academic time.
  • Be able to work within a close group in both supportive and supported roles.
  • Be able to select, interpret, and present appropriate maps, photographs, diagrams and other material to illustrate your arguments.
  • Be able to present references and bibliographies in an appropriate scholarly manner.
  • Have mastered the techniques of researching in different libraries and local archives.
  • Have developed a heightened awareness of your surrounding historical environment.

Application procedure/criteria

Applicants will fill in a form, give a personal statement, and a piece of writing about a historical text they have read, this will be followed by an interview. Prior historical study will be an advantage, though not a necessary condition of acceptance. Successful applicants will have already shown some interest in historical topics as evidenced by their application material.

Course structure

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 (2018~2019)

Module 2: English Social and Local History from c.1660 (2019~2020)


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 will include work at Oxford Castle on the medieval city, a field trip to Winchester, a handling session at the Ashmolean museum, and a tour of the pre-Reformation chapels of the Oxford colleges. Special subjects might include ‘Population and Society after the Black Death’, ‘The English Civil War: Social and Local Impacts’, ‘Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics, 1450-1650’.  

Module 2- English Social and Local History from c.1660

This module covers the period after the Restoration and up to the late twentieth century. It looks at how the dramatic social changes of modernity have changed the lives of English people and their communities. Topics span 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, industrialization, 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 twentieth century. Additional activities include a field trip to Georgian Bath, work on sources about eighteenth and nineteenth century crime at Oxford castle, and a workshop on oral history. Special subjects might include ‘Migration to England from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Centuries’, ‘Pepys’s London’, ‘The Victorian House and Home’, ‘Crime and Punishment in the Age of the Bloody Code’.

Teaching provision

For each year:

5x residential weekends of 12 hours each, plus fieldtrip (around 4 hours each), plus 3x online chat tutorials.

A large portion of the teaching will be undertaken by the Course Director and OUDCE academic staff, with support from sessional lecturers who will be specialists in their field.  

The residential weekends are expected to run from 09:00 to 18:00, on the following dates: Saturday, 29 September 2018, Sunday, 30 September 2018, Saturday, 8 December 2018,  Sunday, 9 December 2018, Saturday, 26 January 2019, Sunday, 27 January 2019, Saturday, 16 March 2019, Sunday, 17 March 2019, Saturday, 4 May 2019, Sunday, 5 May 2019, Saturday, 15 June 2019, Sunday, 16 June 2019.

Brief assessment conventions

Each year:

3x 2,500 word essays: these are traditional, university-style history essays based on a set question. Students will have a choice of around six questions per essay, usually one per topic.

1x 2,000 word source exercise: these are commentaries based on primary sources provided for the students (in transcription/translation where appropriate). Students will usually have a choice between three topics/sets of sources. These could include, for example, manorial court records, poor law papers, diary extracts. Students will be expected to comment on the usefulness of the sources for historians.

1x 6,000 word Extended Essay: this will be set by Special Subject tutors. Students will have a choice between around six different essay topics.

Weighting: the mean of the 3 short essays will count for 60% of a year’s mark; the source exercise will count for 10%; the extended essay will count for 30%. At the end of the course the overall grade will comprise the mean of the Module One and Module Two marks. Students will need a mark of 40 or over to pass the course; they must score lower than 40 on no more than one component of the course per Module, and score 40 or more on both of the extended essays. Marks of 68.5 and above will be considered for a Distinction; marks of 70 and above will automatically confer a Distinction.

Students have the right to resubmit a failed mark if that mark pushes them below the pass mark for the year, or would otherwise cause them to fail the course; in such cases a new question will be set. A technical fail (i.e. where a student does not submit work within the extended deadline) will confer a mark of 0.

Award and credit transfer

Successful students will be awarded an Oxford University Undergraduate Diploma in English Social and 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. The Diploma carries a Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) rating of 120 points at FHEQ Level 5. 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 Registry (email: registry@conted.ox.ac.uk or tel: 01865 280355).

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.

Course entry requirements

This course requires a high level of motivation, enthusiasm and interest in local history, and a willingness to devote time to study over a two-year period. You do not need any formal academic qualifications in history. In previous years the course has attracted people from various occupations, including acting, banking, healthcare, conservation, law, local government, medicine, photography, publishing, retail, social work, and teaching. After the closing date for receipt of applications, you will be invited for an informal interview.

Student support

Academic support will be provided by the Director of the course, Dr Jonathan Healey, and guidance on specific topics will be given by the tutors who teach them. The Course Director may be contacted at any time during office hours on 01865 280161, or by email: jonathan.healey@conted.ox.ac.uk

If you have little or no recent experience of study or examinations, don't be deterred from applying for a place. Help and guidance will be provided as part of 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. For further information and to book a place, please email: studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk or contact 01865 280892.

For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, disability and/or special needs provision and sources of funding, please email: registry@conted.ox.ac.uk or contact the Registry on 01865 280355.

Teaching staff

Dr Jonathan Healey, Course Director of the Diploma in English Social and Local History, is an Associate Professor in Social History at OUDCE and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He came to OUDCE in 2012, before which he was a Fellow in History at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. He is primarily a social historian of early-modern England, and has published articles on poverty, famine, social structure, and local politics and disorder. He has written a book on the poor in seventeenth-century Lancashire.

Other tutors to be confirmed.

Contact information

Course Director: Dr Jonathan Healey 01865 280161. If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before making your application please contact Dr Healey jonathan.healey@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 270380 / 270368
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.

How to apply

Please use the apply button on this page to download the application form which includes a reference form (Appendix A). 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 possible, you should 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 150 words stating why you wish to undertake the course.
  • Proof of your English Language Ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant.

Please send your application with the additional materials to the :

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

Application deadlines

Thursday 18 January, Thursday 8 March, and Thursday 10 May 2018.

Applicants who submit a complete application by 18 January 2018 will be guaranteed an interview. Later applications will be considered if places remain. This is a popular course so we recommend you apply by the earlier deadline. Please check our website for details of availability.

We will be in touch with you about your application as soon as possible after the closing date. You may be invited for an informal interview, and we will let you know as soon as we can whether your application has been successful. Please note that an offer of a place may be made conditional upon successful completion of the preparatory course 'What is Local History?'.

Applications for the preparatory course should be made on the Department's standard enrolment form for weekly classes (available on request from the Weekly Class Administrator, tel 01865 280893), enclosing the fee.


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.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.


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.

Fees and additional expenses

The tuition fee for the 2018-2019 module is £2,380 (EU students) or £4,470 (non-EU students), payable in instalments with a non-refundable deposit of £200 being required on acceptance of a place. The fee includes coffee and tea during the 5 residential weekend schools at Rewley House. Accommodation and meals may be available at Rewley House during the residential weekends at an additional charge. 

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

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support