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History is about more than just learning facts and dates. When we understand the past properly, we can make informed judgments about the present and the future. The discipline of history trains us to be analytical and think strategically about the consequences of our actions.

At The Open University, we communicate our passion for history through our research and our teaching, so that we can inspire others to study a subject that makes us better members of our civic, social and working communities.

Our teaching is highly rated by students, who have access to a wide range of inspiring teaching materials and regular contact with our expert tutors.

Our academics

History discipline members have strengths in the history of Britain and Europe from 1500 to the 1990s, but colleagues also carry out research on the histories of Africa, the Americas and beyond. Particular research groups examine the history of crime and policing, Empire and postcolonial studies, the history of medicine, Britain and Ireland since the 18th century, and war, conflict and politics in Europe.

Our research

Members of the History Department publish groundbreaking historical and interdisciplinary research. In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 84% of our research publications were assessed as "world leading" (4*) or "internationally excellent" (3*). The Department ranked 6th out of all history departments in the country based on the originality, significance and rigour of our books and articles. This result speaks to the quality of our researchers whose excellent publications feed into the ways we design our teaching, so that students benefit from our world-leading and internationally excellent research. 

History academics are involved in collaboration through research groups, and through large digital projects, including the Old Bailey Online, the History from Police Archives, and the World War One commemorative tool 1914-18 Online. Colleagues routinely act as consultants in television and film, especially with the BBC.

How we work with others

We also bring our research outside of the university, through a series of history lectures aimed at a public audience in person or online. This is part of The Open University mission to bring learning to all. The 2019 series includes the English Reformation, the European Union, and Celtic devolution.

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Banner image: © Metropolitan Archives, City of London / Bridgeman Images; Inset image: © Mary Evans Picture Library / Onslow Auctions Limited

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