Departmental admissions statement
This Statement should be read in conjunction with the University’s Admissions Principles and Procedures.
- Year of admissions cycle
- Courses covered
- Admissions Team and contact details
- Outline of assessment methods
- Departmental Visit Days and other correspondence with applicants
- Additional assessment
- Procedures for specific categories of applicant
- Cross department / joint course admissions arrangements
Criteria for assessing applicants
- Entry requirements
- Academic record criteria
- Contextual information
- Personal Statement criteria
- Reference criteria
- Criteria for international applicants
- Variations in offer level
Year of admissions cycle
A professional undergraduate selection team, working in close cooperation with the admissions tutor, will be responsible for the selection process for the undergraduate programme in History.
Any enquiry should be addressed initially to:
Undergraduate Admissions Office
Bristol BS8 1TH
Tel: 0117 928 8147
Fax 0117 331 7391
Outline of assessment methods
- All applications are considered on an equal basis.
- Forms are not segregated by the type of educational institution attended.
- All applicants are contacted within 4 weeks of receipt of application, to establish contact and inform the applicant of the process to be followed.
- Occasionally, the Admissions Office may seek further information from a candidate or their referee when there is an apparent mistake on or omission from the UCAS form that prejudices their application.
- All applications are allocated scores on the academic record and the personal statement/reference. The weighting is as follows: Academic score: 30%; Personal Statement/Reference score: 70%.
Departmental Visit Days and other correspondence with applicants
Candidates receiving offers are invited to attend one of the Faculty of Arts Visit Days, usually held in February or March. This provides a chance for candidates who have received offers to visit the University, meet members of staff, learn more about what they do, and ask questions about our degree programmes.
Attendance to this event is recommended but not compulsory, and in no way does it affect the offer.
- Given the very large number of applications we receive, we only interview selected mature (over 21 years of age) candidates, selected candidates presenting the Access to Higher Education Programmes, and selected candidates whose applications are deemed out of the ordinary or contain elements that invite further discussion. These interviews typically take place during February or March.
- All interviews are conducted by two members of staff, at least one of whom is trained in fair and effective recruitment techniques. All interviews are undertaken in accordance with the University's policy on equal opportunities.
- The purpose of the interview is to assess whether the candidate currently has the necessary skills and capabilities to pursue a degree programme in History and whether the course is appropriate to the candidate’s interests and aspirations.
- There is no testing of the candidate’s subject-specific knowledge but s/he will be given the opportunity to discuss and debate their historical interests.
- The principal assessment criteria are a candidate’s interest in and commitment to the subject, his/her capacity for clear thinking and oral expression, for the critical analysis of arguments and evidence, and for working independently at degree level.
Tests / written work
- No tests are currently used as part of the selection process for Historical Studies.
- In the event that the department should require the submission of a piece of written work in support of an application, the reasons for the request will be explained and pertinent directions given.
Procedures for specific categories of applicant
Mature applicants are welcome to apply on the basis of either A Levels or a relevant Access course. Vocational qualifications (e.g., GNVQ) and/ or employment history may in some instances be taken into account.
We will invite selected candidates to interview in order to assess their academic potential and ascertain their level of commitment to the academic study of history. A decision will be made after the interview.
Deferred entry applications are considered, but candidates are expected to explain their reasons for requesting deferred entry and to describe briefly in their personal statement how their ‘gap’ year might subsequently benefit their university career. Only a very limited number of offers may be made to applicants in this category in order to ensure fairness to those applying in the next admissions cycle. Preference may be given to those with a clear and relevant academic purpose or with significant health or personal issues. Offers for deferred entry may be at marginally higher grades than the typical offers for immediate year of entry.
We urge candidates to submit applications in the current admissions cycle wherever possible.
Candidates from countries within the European Union (EU) are classed as ‘Home’ and therefore compete for places with UK candidates. Non-EU candidates are classed as ‘Overseas’ and are not subject to the limits on Government funded places. There are no processes specific to Overseas applicants.
If your first language is not English you should have achieved an IELTS (or equivalent) score of 7.0 overall by the proposed date of entry.
The selection process is the same as for ‘Home’ applicants. Where necessary, the Selection Team may request further clarification on qualifications, references or personal statement, in order to allow for the fairest and fullest academic assessment possible.
Decisions are made irrespective of the status of the applicant. Satisfaction of academic and intellectual criteria overrides nationality, place of residence or fee status.
Cross-department/joint course admissions arrangements
The department of Historical Studies does not currently offer any Joint Honours courses.
Criteria for assessing applicants
Academic entry requirements for standard qualifications (A-level, SQA, IB, Access, BTEC, Welsh Bacc, 14-19 Diploma, and GCSEs) can be found in the online Undergraduate Prospectus.
Other qualifications, including international qualifications, will be considered on their individual merits; further information is available on the International Students website.
Academic Record criteria
- History is a mandatory subject but we welcome applications from candidates offering it with any combination of any other A2 subjects (or equivalent), apart from General Studies which we do not accept.
- We normally expect candidates to hold or be predicted A*AA or AAA at A2 (or equivalent) taking into account their personal statement and reference.
- We take a candidate’s record at GCSE into account, but there are no specific requirements, except GCSE English Language and Mathematics and we recognise that a candidate’s academic abilities may improve significantly subsequent to GCSE. Credit is given to the best 8 subjects.
- Mature students are considered each on their own merits. Although we do not necessarily require satisfaction of the entry requirements, the Department does normally require evidence of aptitude for the academic study of History. Mature students who have not taken A-levels are therefore advised to enroll for one or an equivalent qualification (BTEC, Access, etc.), so that both they and the selectors may be satisfied that they possess such aptitude.
- Those who do not satisfy the normal eligibility criteria, but whose applications are deemed to indicate interest in and aptitude for the subject, may be asked to attend a selection interview (please see section ‘Additional Assessment (a) Interviews’ above).
We take a holistic approach to all applications, ensuring that the educational and social context in which an applicant applies is taken into consideration, where supported by clear evidence that this may have adversely affected academic achievement. This may include time spent in Local Authority care, information about which is provided in the UCAS application.
Such applications are awarded one grade uplift on the academic score, e.g. an AAB applicant will be awarded the same academic score as an AAA applicant. Applicants still need to satisfy specific subject requirements.
We also consider evidence of clear motivation to study. This may include attendance at a University summer school, a targeted Access Scheme (such as Access to Bristol or Realising Opportunities), or participation in other higher education outreach activities.
We do not take the following into consideration when making admissions decisions: the school type attended by an applicant or whether an applicant’s parent has any experience of higher education.
Personal Statement criteria
Given the very large number of applications we receive each year from candidates who have achieved or are predicted to achieve high grades, we necessarily place substantial emphasis upon the quality of the personal statement.
- We seek evidence of serious interest in, and commitment to, the active study of history. We are particularly eager to identify applicants whose interest in the subject extends beyond the A2 History syllabus, who are keen to engage in independent research, and who wish to learn how to undertake such historical research at university level.
- Evidence of wider reading and of a critical engagement with such reading is important. Applicants who have gained a relevant broader experience of the practice of history (e.g. volunteering at a museum, independent research projects, etc.) are also given credit.
- Within the Personal Statement itself, we seek evidence of coherent, analytical and critical thinking. Credit is given for well-constructed and accurately expressed argument.
- We may also take into consideration a candidate’s understanding of how other relevant disciplines can inform the study of history, and whether the course applied for is appropriate to the candidate’s declared historical interests and aspirations.
- We also consider evidence of clear motivation to study. This may include attendance at a university summer school, a targeted Access Scheme (such as Access to Bristol, the Mutual Recognition Scheme, etc.), or participation in AimHigher outreach activities.
- We give some credit for non-academic achievements and experience, extra-curricular activities and positions of responsibility held, including paid and voluntary employment, bearing in mind the range of opportunities available to the candidate and the nature of any particular challenges s/he may have faced.
- Our mission is to identify and attract those candidates who satisfy all the criteria outlined above and whose academic and intellectual interests and potential are germane to our methods of teaching and areas of expertise.
- When assessing the school/college reference, we are looking for evidence of high levels of motivation, an ability to work independently, and intellectual inquisitiveness.
- We are particularly interested to hear of anything that might bear on the ability of the applicant to engage in historical research, or their interest in undertaking such research.
- References should provide detailed assessment of the applicant’s powers of critical analysis and expression, and of the applicant’s potential for further development in these areas.
- We would encourage teachers to draw our attention to applicants whose actual or predicted examination performance does not, in the teacher’s opinion, accurately reflect their ability and commitment, and the reasons for this.
- Any educational or special circumstances that may affect a candidate’s performance should be brought to our attention.
- Where a recent academic reference is unavailable (e.g. for mature applicants), candidates should ask an employer or other person with a good knowledge of their abilities for a reference that provides as much detailed information as possible about their skills, capabilities and achievements, as evidence of their suitability to pursue a degree-level course in History.
Criteria for international applicants
Statement on non-discrimination
Applicants are not discriminated against on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion, disability or age.
Typical offers for A-levels and other UK qualifications can be found in the Entry Data in the online prospectus.
Offers to applicants with non-standard qualifications will be made equivalent to the published A-level offer.
Variations in offer level
Typical offers are to be taken as guidelines. They reflect the vast majority of the offers we make, but we may make different offers in response to the particular circumstances a candidate may present: previous equivalent qualifications, proven relevant experience, extenuating personal circumstances, etc.
We may make lower offers based on whether an applicant is deemed to have experienced educational disadvantage, as defined in section 7.5 of the University’s Admissions Principles and Procedures.
Incoming students will normally be expected to enter at the start of the next first year.
Requests for transfers to our courses may be made from suitable applicants from other degree programmes within the University at the end of Year One.
Suitably qualified applicants who have completed the first year of a degree programme at another institution may seek entry to Year 2, but acceptance is at the discretion of the Head of Education and is subject to there being space available on the degree programme to which the candidate is applying. Applications are to be submitted through UCAS, indicating in the appropriate field (‘Point of Entry’) the candidate’s intention to be admitted into Year Two.
Professor Tim Cole