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Affiliate Students

Trio of Students

Why study at UCL History?

  • UCL History has been rated amongst the top 5 departments in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015) and also internationally (QS 2014).
  • The department is almost 190 years old and we offer 4000+ years of History from the Ancient Middle East to the Twentieth Century.
  • With 21 Professors (including Emeriti) and more than 60 research staff in the department, at UCL History research meets teaching. Historians integrate current research and thinking into their courses meaning that our students are truly on the cutting edge of historical thinking and will be confronting fresh ideas.
  • UCL is a top-rated university in the UK for research strength (Research Excellence Framework 2014).
  • 3 of the UK’s biggest humanities libraries are within 5 minutes walk away, and London is haven for resources for historians with an abundance of museums, galleries, specialised libraries and archives.
  • UCL History runs small seminar group classes of 15. 1-1 support is also offered to all students (tutorials, supervision & feedback sessions).

Our course tutors have considerable leeway to teach their subjects as they see fit. You may find this confusing at first, but your teachers will explain the requirements and structure of their courses to you at the first lecture or class.

Visiting students (affiliate, JYA, Erasmus) are able to take 'Full-Year' or 'Half-Year' courses, and join the same classes as British and other students who are studying for a full degree at UCL. Erasmus students normally take these modules too, even Sorbonne students who are completing the maîtrise, as experience has shown that they work very well as a background to work on the mémoire.

UCL is in the heart of London, one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. From here you are within walking distance of a wealth of libraries, museums, galleries and theatres. And as many of London's cultural resources are free, even a student with very little money will have many things to do.

For advanced students working on the larger tesi or a mémoire de maîtrise, London's libraries are a paradise, perhaps the strongest combination in the old world, and the strongest anywhere if manuscripts are included.

Being in London provides a wonderful base from which to explore the rest of Britain. Cities such as Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, and Oxford are within easy reach. And making weekend trips further afield, perhaps to Dublin, Edinburgh or Paris, is great fun.


To apply for a place in the History Department as an Affiliate or Erasmus student you should visit the International Office website.

Module Options

*Please note that the information below is for undergraduate study only. Postgraduate applicants should follow the link below to the information for accepted students for an overview of the postgraduate programme and what to expect. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/history/undergraduate/affiliate_students/history-affiliate-programme-information/postgraduate-erasmus

UCL History Department Lecture/Seminar Modules

Undergraduate Study Abroad students (JYA and Erasmus) are expected to take the same load as our students at UCL History. For those studying in the Autumn term only or arriving in January for the Spring/Summer terms this is equivalent to 2 UCL course units (16 US credits or 30 ECTS). For students who will be with us for the full year this is equivalent to 4 UCL course units (32 US credits or 60 ECTS).

Full-Year Modules

These modules are available as full-year and also as one-term modules. For full-year students, these modules are worth 1 UCL course unit. Students taking the first or second half of the full-year syllabus take this as a discrete course over one term, worth 0.5 UCL course units.

Full year modules are taught either through a combination of lectures and discussion classes (tutorials), or in seminars. Discussion classes and seminars are normally based on groups of about 15 students, however large the lecture group may be.

For modules taught by a combination of lectures and discussion classes it is important to note that you must be able to attend the lecture in order to be able to do the module. Since there are usually several possible discussion classes/seminars running together with the lectures, it is almost always possible to transfer from one of these to another if you have a timetable clash.

Assessment for full-year students is on the basis of two coursework essays of 2,500 words each and one 3-hour unseen examination.  One-term students are assessed by two essays of 2,500 words or one essay of 5,000 words. The 5,000 word essay option is available for term 1 affiliates only.

Half-Year Modules

Half-year modules are worth 0.5 UCL course units and are taught over one term. They cover a diverse range of periods, regions and historical approaches. Some run only in Term 1 (September to December) or Term 2 (January to March); others are available in either term. Half-year modules are either assessed by two coursework essays of 2,500 words each or by one essay of 2,500 words and a short examination.

Other Modules

Directed Independent Study Project

One option available to students is to undertake a directed independent study project. The students who select this option will agree a topic in consultation with the Affiliate Tutor and their project supervisor(s). Supervisors, chosen by the Affiliate Tutor, will meet regularly with the students during the course of their independent study.

Students who pursue this option will be expected to engage in extensive research in London libraries. If you are studying at UCL for the full academic year, you may be assessed either by means of a dissertation of 10,000 words, which is worth 1 UCL course units, equivalent to 8 US credits/15 ECTS, or 5,000 words, which is worth 0.5 UCL course units, equivalent to 4 US credits/7.5 ECTS. If you are in the department just for the Autumn Term or the Spring and Summer Terms, you may only undertake a project of 5,000 words.

Please check with your home institution before selecting this option as this is not accepted by some home institutions. Please note that this option is not open to Erasmus students.

Modules outside the History department

Although UCL, in common with other British colleges and universities, does not offer a 'liberal arts' education in the American sense, most Affiliate students registered in the History Department will take at least one of their modules in another department and you are encouraged to explore the wealth of modules available across UCL via the Study Abroad Guide and individual departments' webpages.

Please note, however, that the History Department is not in a position to guarantee acceptance into any modules in another department.

An up-to-date list of modules running will be published online for affiliate students accepted to History once available, and information and guidance will be provided to accepted students. 

What our students say

Claudia Chang UoT

'Having the opportunity to study at UCL for the full academic year has been the most wonderful experience. The chapter of my life at UCL was shaped by the people I have met, the friendships that cultivated and deepened, the occurrence of remarkable events and first-time experiences, and of course, the exceptional education and care I received from the university itself. The History Department provided plentiful of guidance prior to my arrival in London and throughout the entire period of my exchange. The teaching system was a new and significantly beneficial experience; my modules consisted of a profound analysis of Britain as a global power (HIST6406), a comprehensive examination of the political, cultural, and social factors that influenced American history (HIST6416), and the evolving concept of European Union law (ESPS2301) and International Law (ESPS2302). In particular, I had the opportunity - and a first-time experience - to read articles and books my professors have written in their specialized areas. Additionally, I truly appreciate the numerous career-related opportunities and the intellectual public lecture talks that UCL provides its students with.

Studying at the heart of London has granted me with opportunities to explore the historically rich city and go on short excursions to the British Museum nearby after lectures. UCL and London in general is an unbelievably multicultural place and I am grateful to have become friends with people who come from all over the world: an amazing cultural exchange. During my studies here in London, I have also gone on a few trips around Europe. Having come all the way from Canada, I simply cannot let the chance to explore Europe slip! This study abroad experience has enabled me to mature as a person, gain insight, and accumulate knowledge through valuable experiences. As the time for me to leave London draws closer, I am certain of one thing: I will definitely be back, either to continue my studies at a graduate level (hopefully at UCL) or to pursue a career in London.'

Claudia Chang, University of Toronto

Emily Berman Cornell

I chose to study history at UCL both because of the strength of the department as well as the university’s London setting. I wanted to push myself academically while I was abroad, but I also wanted to live in a dynamic international city with an endless array of things to do and see (and where international travel was a simple bus, train, or plane trip away). Studying in the history department at UCL has fulfilled both those requirements: my courses have been both challenging and rewarding, and the structure of the program afforded me plenty of time to explore London, the UK, and several parts of Europe.

I study modern history at my home institution, but—both because of interest and to fill requirements—I ended up taking three courses in pre-1800s history in the UCL history department. I had never taken pre-1800s history at the university level, but the UCL academic staff made it an excellent experience. Both my professors and their assistants were quick to offer guidance when I asked questions about how to analyze a specific primary source or how I should approach an essay. Though my heart still lies with modern history, learning how to read a Babylonian marriage document or an Ancient Roman decree taught me a new perspective on how to integrate various sources into my work. Most of my classes were small—two were under 15 people, and we all sat around one table—which made for a more intimate academic experience than I was used to and made communication with my professors easier.

To say London is a ‘great city’ is an understatement. It has everything a student could want in a city—from sightseeing around Westminster to strolling through Shoreditch to a trip to the Borough Market, there’s plenty to do during the day, and a lively nightlife as well. The structure of the history program—classes meet for two hours per class per week—means that there is plenty of time to explore all the odds and ends of the city and to take day trips all around the UK (I had no courses on either Wednesdays or Fridays, which made those days perfect for visiting places like Dover, Cambridge, and Bath). The UCL history department provides several ways to meet people. The small class sizes made it easy to chat with fellow students, and the UCL History Society also extends open arms to affiliate students. UCL events—such as club meetings (which I did not take part in, but friends did) and the weekly pub quiz (which I did take part in, and lost badly but cheerfully every time)—provide other ways to meet students outside of the history department.

After studying at UCL History this semester, I have a better understanding of constructing history from primary sources, which is a critical skill to have going into my senior thesis. I also now have a burning desire to return to London as soon as possible either for employment or for further study. It’s the kind of place where you can stare at a 1,000 year old castle while eating at a chain sandwich shop; it’s the kind of place where you can take a train to Paris on a whim; it’s the kind of city where you can study anything you want, and be surrounded by people pursuing their own unique fields of research. It has, in short, everything. Why study anywhere else?

My top tips:

1. London is full of student discounts. With a UCL card, you can find discounts on books, food, theatre tickets and so much more. You can also purchase a 16-25 railcard, which will take a third off and train ticket prices. You can also use your student I.D. card and student visa to get into places around Europe; a visit to Versailles is free if you flash a student I.D. card that says ‘history’ on it, like the UCL one does.

2. Take a course outside your comfort zone in an area you don’t know well. It could give you a new way of thinking about your entire subject (as it did for me)

3. Just get lost in the city! You find so many unexpected places and things to do just by walking around. I’ve lost track of all the markets I’ve accidentally found just by taking a random walk through a new area of the city.

Emily Berman, Cornell University


I chose to study history at UCL because it has an excellent academic reputation and a great Central London location. I’m glad that I did. I’ve had an amazing time this year and I think that UCL would be a perfect fit for just about anyone who is looking to study in London. All of my tutors have been very knowledgeable and happy to talk whenever I’ve needed any help. So there is no need to be shy about asking questions. The modules that they offer cover a range of different places and time periods, so each student should be able to find courses that interest them and the class size in seminars is always small enough for discussions to be relaxed and comfortable. I’ve found everyone here to be friendly, but, as a new student, you might need to become more outgoing than you would ordinarily be. You’ll also find that Bloomsbury is an ideal place to study. The campus is only a short walk from the British Library and there are always interesting talks and events going on in the area. Plus, living near UCL means that it will be easy for you to get around London. Many of the places you most want to visit are walking distance from where you live, which will give you a chance to get to know the city really well. Most of all I’ve enjoyed the atmosphere at UCL. It is a positive and encouraging environment in which you can meet a lot of interesting people. I can’t recommend UCL highly enough. It is a special place and you won’t regret coming here.

My top tips:

1. When you’re picking an essay question, don’t just look for an interesting topic, think about the nature of the question and if it seems like something you will be able to answer.

2. Also, realise that it will probably take longer for you to write the essays than you’re thinking it will.

3. In seminars: don’t try to come up with the best comment; try to ask the best question.

Jess Prymmer, University of California



1. How will I be taught?

We use a variety of different teaching methods in the department, these include:

  • formal lectures so that we can offer you our own interpretation of the distilled essence of a subject;
  • seminars of about 15 students to offer you the chance to polish your discussion and presentation skills and to learn from each other;
  • essay classes (discussion sections, in American terminology), which normally consist of about 15 students and which focus on a discussion of a particular historical problem;
  • one-to-one tutorials for returning marked coursework and to give you the opportunity to raise any particularly difficult problems in a relaxed and informal setting.
2. What libraries can I use?

There are two main libraries: UCL's own library which is only one minute's walk from the History Department, and the University of London Library in Senate House, which is about five minutes' walk from the department. Erasmus students working on a thesis for their home university will also be able to obtain admission to the libraries of the London research institutes (Warburg Institute, Institute of Historical Research) and to the British Library. The Erasmus Tutor will be happy to provide a letter of introduction, where required. Links to further information about libraries and online resources are posted on the UCL History website for students at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/history/undergraduate/libraries .

3. How much work will I be expected to do?

Students are expected to spend about 40 hours a week on their academic work. This will still leave you with plenty of time to explore London and experience the delights of life in London - but we hope that you will become so engrossed in your studies that you will forget to watch the clock!

4. What kind of academic support can I expect?

Your personal tutor - either the Affiliate Tutor or Erasmus Tutor depending on your programme - will be your main contact for your progress whilst you are here.

Your module tutors will return marked essays to you in an individual tutorial and provide you with individual guidance on how you can improve your performance.

You should always feel free to approach any of your tutors if you have a problem with any aspect of your work. All tutors have office hours on a weekly basis so you can drop in to discuss any concerns. The Departmental Tutor (Transition and Welfare) is also available to deal with any problems you might have.

Alongside 1-to-1 tutorials and feedback sessions, there are also other sources of academic support that you may wish to pursue. Please follow the link below.


5. How will I be assessed?

If you come for the full academic year (September to June) you will be assessed in exactly the same way as students who are studying for a degree here. This will be by a combination of assessed coursework essays and an examination. If you are here for either the Autumn Term or the Spring Terms, you will still be allowed to join most full-year modules, but you will be assessed entirely by coursework essays.

Full-year students and students attending in the Spring Term should note that, although all teaching is completed by the end of term 2, students will still be expected to be in attendance in term 3 for examinations and also for formal submission of coursework.

6. Where will I live?

The Study Abroad Guide web-pages provide details about how to apply for accommodation in UCL halls of residence. Further information can also be found on the accommodation web pages at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/accommodation .

7. How will study at UCL differ from what I am used to?

At home you may be accustomed to being given a strictly structured timetable of class readings and assignments. In the UCL History Department your tutors will give you reading lists and regular assignments, but you will be expected to work more independently, to read widely around your subject, and then to share and apply the knowledge that you have gathered with your fellow students.

A typical lecture-based module will have between 30-75 students, who attend one formal lecture all together each week, and who are then divided into classes of around 15 students for classes, which will meet most weeks for about an hour.

Seminar-based modules normally consist of about 15 students, who meet weekly for classes of about two hours.

You will be expected to do regular reading for essay classes and seminars, as well as background reading for lectures. We place a great deal of emphasis on regular attendance at classes, lectures and seminars, and we also require all students to submit written coursework by clearly specified deadlines. Your tutors return marked essays to you in an individual tutorial and provide you with individual guidance on how you can improve your performance.

8. What feedback will I receive from my work?

Your tutors return marked essays to you in an individual tutorial and provide you with individual guidance on how you can improve your performance. At the end of your time at UCL your transcript will be sent to your home institution from our Examinations Department. Report forms for each module are also available to you on request, showing your attendance, your participation in classes and the coursework that you have submitted. These can be emailed to you along with any coursework feedback you request.

Page last modified on 06 mar 15 15:52 by Emma J Patten