Studying History at University | Hannah Witton


– What it’s like studying history at uni, scene one, take one. (click) (laughing) – Hey guys, I’m here with Ellie today. And so Ellie is a friend of mine from uni. You may recognize Ellie from
some of my other videos, so you should watch
them too, they’re okay. – Average to mediocre. (laughing) – We both did history
together, that is how we became best friends forever and life
partners and lovers and… oh my God, your hand’s
really cool, I hate that. (laughing) – I often get a lot of
questions from people saying “I’m thinking about going
to uni, what should I do? “What’s history like? “What’s University of Birmingham like?” Which is where we went, and
so thought we would just make a general video
talking about what it’s like to study history at uni. If you’re American, that’s college. I tweeted out what you
wanted to know, and you guys wanna know stuff, so that’s good. “Did you develop skim reading
skills at or before uni?” I did at. – You scan a whole kind of
two pages, and you pick out a couple of things, I think
I developed that more at uni because you need it. You’re reading so much,
you don’t have time to read an entire book. – “How many texts per essay did you read?” I would say like… 10 was good. – I think I probably do
more because I’ve read quite a few articles as opposed to books. I don’t know, they’re more specific. – Books as well, you literally
just read intro, conclusion and then one relevant chapter. “How do you respond to
people who say things like “‘oh but isn’t history already known?'” Oh… – (makes explosion sound) No! It’s not about knowing facts. – Yeah, it’s not about facts. History is constantly
changing because we understand events one way, and then
something comes another way like oh actually maybe it happened
slightly differently. – Why we think what happened,
what happened in the way it did, the way we see it. – And how the people at the
time understand what was happening, not what we think
of it, but what did they think about it. – And why did they think that about it. – “What topics in history do you study?” Ellie, what did you do? – My favorite was probably
to do with Orientism, and interpretations of other
countries and other cultures and interactions between
different cultures. So that’s what I did my dissertation on, travelers to the Middle
East, that kind of thing. – Obviously you guys know that I studied a lot of sexual history, me
and Ellie did a module together on the history of homosexuality
which was fascinating. Another one of my favorite
modules was the Tudors and a hundred objects,
and it was like a cultural and material history of
the Tudors, and it was like a lot of museum study
stuff, combined with history and material culture
and it was fascinating, because now every time I go to a museum I’m like “Why did they place this there? “And how did they choose
this specific object, “and why does this one have a caption, “and this one doesn’t? “What are they trying to
do here and what are they “trying to make us think,
what is the story that they’re “trying to tell, is there
like a specific direction “that you have to travel
around the museum? “Or is it like free-for-all?” I’ll usually not go to
museums now, I’m like blah! (making silly noises) – Why!? – “How bad is third year?” – Not very. – Third year was my best year. – I had modules I really enjoyed
and I think that made a… and the tutors I had in
third year were so brilliant. – “Do you have post graduation
depression when you realize “that you wont be studying such
an awesome subject anymore?” – That is a very loaded question. I think I didn’t get
like depressed about it, but I definitely miss it,
I really miss just learning so many interesting new things. – I feel a bit under stimulated sometimes. I’ve not read it yet but I bought this, “A Little Gay History.” Got pictures and everything. – (giggling) It’s got pictures! – What’s that? Early desires, what is this? (upbeat music) – This is the oldest known
representation of a couple making love in the world. – [Both] Ah! – It was found in a cave
in the Judean Dessert. The pebble depicts a couple face to face. – It’s a couple having sex! – One person has wrapped their
arms around the shoulders of their lover in an embrace. See, now we’ve just learned something! – That’s what it’s like
being a history student! – Yeah we see something,
we’re like “What is this?” (clap) – “Is there a massive
difference between studying at “different unis or do they
all offer similar things?” They will offer different
things depending on what the tutors are. – But I feel like every
university offers so many modules, that there will be something you like. – You discover what you like. The beautiful thing is that
even though me and Ellie went to the same university to
do history, we have come out with completely different
history degrees and completely different specialisms,
which I think is cool. No one has the same history degree. “How does the courses work,
is there a choice for example “on what time period you want focused on?” In our first year, we did
a complete survey course. – You’d go through a few
hundred years in an hour and then you’d feel a bit seasick. – So we had two Medieval
modules, two modern modules, this is when I realized that
I hated Medieval history. – And both of us never went there again. We think the point of it
is to show you new things that you haven’t studied before. – I came out with it, and I was like “Oh my God, I have this
timeline in my head.” Then in second and third
year, it’s like free-for-all, you just pick the modules
that you wanna study. – If your laptop logs on fast enough. – Oh my God, those are the
most stressful days ever. – It’s like you’re in line for
a festival ticket, but worse because it would decide your
fate for an entire year. And the places went like that. – Yeah, on the popular
modules, so there was a day and a time that it went live,
and you had to go online and you had to click on the
module that you wanted to do. “I love history at A level,
but I’m worried I’ll take it to “degree level and realize
it’s not my passion, help.” University history is very
different to A level history but for the better. – But also actually, if you
don’t enjoy it you can always change your degree. – It’s a lot more theory based. – It’s quite philosophical
as well actually, because you have to look
at yourself and look at what in your life has made
you think and see things the way you do. – The type of history that we
studied, really put emphasis on removing yourself from your worldview– – De-centering. – Yeah, de-center yourself,
and putting yourself into the shoes of the people in the
past that you’re studying. Not judging the people in
the past like, “that’s weird, that’s wrong, why did they do that?” But being like “okay, what
made them think and feel “that kind of way?” – But you can’t kind of
judge them, you just have to look at it and try and
understand why they did it instead of being like “Can’t believe they did that.” Because we do things that
in a hundred years time they’ll look back and be like “Why did they do that?” But right now we think this is… – This is right, and this
is true, this is real. – But there’s no such thing. – Be prepared for just
having the whole world like crumble at your feet if you study history. – And around you and including
you, and then you’ve gotta kind of glue it all together. – And then you rebuild yourself. – Like literally gluing dust together. – “Do you think there are
biased representations “in historical writing in
terms of gender, racial, “and cultural stereotypes?” – [Both] Yes! – There is no such thing
as un-biased history. – Like you can try, you
can try, you can try, but I don’t think you’ll
ever get to the point where you can say “this is
100 percent objective.” – Would you say that you
found it more interesting “studying modern history
or earlier periods?” – Modern. – What are your favorite centuries? 19th and the 16th. – I kind of like 19th and 17th. I enjoyed Medieval history,
but it’s very different to modern history because
the written sources are completely different,
the way people write about it is completely different. And all of the names are the
same, it’s really confusing. – All of the different Targaryan kings, like Aegon, Aron, Aerys, like, Raegar, Aeron, Aemon, like that’s Medieval history,
what are all these names? – Game of Thrones really
happened, it’s Medieval history! (laughing) – It’s true, the wall is
Hadrian’s Wall, and beyond the wall is Scotland. – “Any tips on studying at
Birmingham would be fab, “and because I’ve found an
unconditional offer to go there.” (cheering) – Congrats. – Do not walk under the
clock tower when it rings, because it’s bad luck and
you’ll fail your degree. University of Birmingham superstitions. – We’re not superstitious at all! – I’ve never walked under
it, even it’s not ringing I don’t walk under it, but
it rings four times an hour because it rings at o’clock– – Quarter past, half past, quarter to. – So just don’t. – The Cadbury research library. – (gasps) Yes, it’s like all
of the archives that University of Birmingham owns. So our friend George
was doing an internship with the library, and he was
like searching some stuff and he saw something that
was like Havelock Ellis. And he texted me being
like “Aren’t you studying “Havelock Ellis, isn’t he like
a sexologist or something?” So I was studying Ellis for
my dissertation, and it turned out that at the University of Birmingham, we have Ellis’s diaries. And… – Handy. – “How much is it like
history class in high school?” – [Both] Not. – Next. (snickering) – Do you know how I see
the progression of history, as in how it’s taught? So in high school you learn
like, oh this happened this happened, here’s
some dates and names, you learn it, you write
about it, then sixth form, you do about historians, and
you say “this historian said “this, but this historian said this,” and you kind of make arguments,
and then University is all about what do you think? Yeah these historians say
this, yeah they use this information, but what
information are you gonna use to make your point? – Yup, yeah! You’re the historian
now, what do you think? – Yeah, you have to
pretend to be an adult. – “Why should I study
history other than enjoyment, “what kind of jobs can you
get through that degree?” – YouTuber! – I feel like with a history
degree, a lot of people say this, and it sounds really
cheesy, but I feel like you actually can get quite
a range of jobs because you do have quite a few
trasnferable skills. Publishing, teaching, research, writing, or you can get a master’s
then a PhD and just become a history lecturer. – Become a historian. – Become a historian for
life, being a historian is a profession. – “How much do you plan essays,
I usually do very minimal plan and it seems to pay off
but I feel like this changes at a higher level.” – I feel like planning loads helps. In our exams you have about
an hour per essay-ish. – But you spend like 15 minutes planning. – It makes your argument
so much more succinct. – But also like for course work essays, I plan a lot, I plan like
every point that I’m gonna make in each paragraph. Planning documents I had for
my dissertation was ridiculous, I had this huge Word document
with just all of my notes, it was searchable, so I could be like “I need to find something
about homosexuality,” so I’d just type in
“homosexuality” and I’m like “okay, there are all the
points for homosexuality.” – Control F saved my life. – Control F! – Praise the control F! I had a notebook that I
carried around with me and everytime I thought of
something cool, I’d write it down and that was my plan. – Make friends with your tutors as well, because they’re good fun. They say to you like “Email me anytime.” – They have so much information
in their brains as well. – Yeah, talk to them a lot. – It’s incredible. – What we were saying about
studying history at uni basically like blowing
your mind a little bit and making you question everything, we did this module, a
compulsory module in second year, called “History
in Theory and Practice,” which is basically how we
study history, why we study history, what is history,
how should we study history? It amazing. – It was so brilliant. – We had a whole module and
lecture on “what is time?” – We concluded that it was… – [Both] “Timey wimey
wibbley wobbley stuff.” – I quoted John Green in
my exam for that module. I remember sitting in
David’s office when we were talking about History
in Theory and Practice, and I started coming up
with this random stuff about how The Little Mermaid
is really post-modern. She’s using a fork as a
hairbrush, and that’s her truth. Like the fork is being
used as a hairbrush, it’s functionality is a
hairbrush, it brushes her hair, so that’s what it is,
until someone comes along and says to her “Actually
no, that’s not a hairbrush, “you use it to eat food.” So that truth then dies,
and a new truth is born and it’s like… – And then Hannah curled
up in a ball and cried for about seven days. – Thank you guys for watching,
please give the video thumbs up if you liked it, and
let us know in the comments if you have anymore tips or
info on studying history at uni. Follow Ellie on Twitter because she’s– – I haven’t tweeted much recently. – But when you do it’s very funny. And she often tweets
really interesting history, political stuff. I hope this has been somewhat
useful and I’ll see you guys soon, bye! Say bye. (soft music)

Comments 100

  • I loved the video. I have a history degree, but here in Brazil is the course is totally different! Very good to know how it works in other countries. Xoxo

  • As a Medievalist, I died a little bit when you said you hated medieval history. Gah.

  • You made studying history so interesting!

  • History will hopefully answer the question , How did Barry Soetoro become the president of the USA.

  • Make sure to study hard because those who don't study hard for there history exams are doomed to repeat them.

  • As someone who is currently studying computer science at the university of Birmingham I feel i must stress that if you are going to do any sort of Engineering or science degree that you must be prepared to work you arse off if you want a good grade. Even in first year. also be prepared to be so stressed when exams come around that you have a bit of a break down. I recommend you take up running or something (trust me it helps. You can literally run away from your problems then). The university is amazing though and they're building loads of new stuff at the moment. It's going to be amazing.

  • This was super interesting as I almost studied History at Uni but chose Art School instead! I would love to know more about what you can take into later life from a history degree, eg what job does your friend do/ your other course-mates? xx

  • I'm studying History at Uni in September, but I'm finding A-Levels really difficult. I feel like it's not so much about what you know but how you write it in the essay. For example in my German essay if I don't have an 'integrated approach' I can't get past a level 3, despite how much I know and the general quality of writing. (which is very frustrating as I need an A!) Is this the case at Uni too?

  • I'm doing history at Leeds uni right now and it's really great, I'm also looking at doing my dissertation on China/India and Orientalism. I just did a module on sati on India and if you haven't looked into it I'd really recommend it, there's a lot of interesting intersection between imperialism, Orientalism, evangelicalism, Hinduism, Victorian protofeminism and feminism 🙂

  • you both look 12

  • This was so insightful! I've been torn between English, History, or Classical Studies as my major recently, so this was really lovely to watch. It's helped! And you two are so passionate about what you're learning, I love it c:

  • What a lovely video this was! I can only hope I will be as excited and happy to look back at my uni years when I graduate! (plus all of the modules you mentioned sound crazy exciting, I'm a bit jealous)

  • I'm doing a BA History at the University of Essex at the moment, and I love it so much! So stimulating!

  • I couldn't take the eyes off the chocolate frog on your shelf. It's in the exact same spot on my exact same Ikea structure that mine is. YAY FOR HUFFLEPUFFS.

  • Almost wish I choose to study history instead of engineering now.

  • I do the IB and the last thing you talked about with the little mermaid and truths is something we do in a class called TOK (Theory of Knowledge) – how do we know what we know sort of thing 🙂

  • "MUST LEARN!" lol
    This was so interesting and entertaining to watch! As a high school senior (graduation is next week), I love that you touched on study skills and the different thinking used in some of the courses you took!

    Btw The Little Mermaid reference was genius and I understand what "post modern" means now that you used it!

  • Hi @Hannah Witton my boyfriend works at Uni of Birminghami! 🙂 How did you manage youtube and Uni? I really want to pressure a creative career but I'm not sure if I should take a BA along side juggling youtube or take a year out and try to pursue my youtube with a job at the same time? Love your channel. Thanks! X

  • I studied History (World Wars specifically) in college and now I'm going to teach History in High School.  This video nailed my experience. I loved it so much! 
    I'm so glad you made this video. Absolutely loved it. I think a lot of people think History is boring and facts but it really isn't! Its about analyzing and critically thinking about a situation and understanding what was going on and how it affected the world and how it is still impacting us. 
    I'm so glad you shared that with your viewers!

  • I was a history major in the U.S., and I'd agree with a lot of what you're saying.  I'm a little confused by your mention of "tutors", though.  We had graduate students who were teaching assistants, and they would frequently teach our classes, and I think they were eager to help us, but I didn't take them up on it as much as I should have.  Is that similar to your tutors?

  • Isn't it just a load of stuff that's already happened?

  • I was looking at the channels of the people who are going to summer in the city, and I found you that way 😀
    You're so cool!
    I love collabs, they're always the most fun! To watch, but also to make imo haha. Do you agree or do you prefer making videos yourself? 🙂 I'm interested haha

  • Hey, what did you do in Alevels? And what was your history grade?

  • I just got my prospectus through from Birmingham university and I'm pretty sure you are on the history page – is it you? 🙂

  • I am taking GCSE history this year, and next year (Year 11) I'll be taking a thing called the Extended Project, which is basically just under AS, and I'm doing a dissertation. I wanted to do it on LGBT or history, or both. Do you have some tips for what to do and such?

  • Does Ellie have a YouTube channel?

  • OMG 10:20 the idea with the word document, I finished Uni in 2014 and wish I'd thought of that!

  • Birmingham have started showing this video on there open day history talk! It was really funny

  • If film making wasn't such a passion of mine, this video would've convinced me to do History

  • Historiography. Necessary mindfuckery

  • Wibbly wobbly timey Wimey stuff

  • It is so true. Sitting down with your lecturer and bringing up a topic, they blow your mind and you come out in a sort of daze.

  • i love history! i highly recommend checking out medievalpoc on tumblr, if you haven't already. it's bulldozed through a lot of the preconceptions i once held and expanded my mind/knowledge of history like WHOA.

  • Ellie needs a YouTube channel!!!

  • Love your videos Hannah 🙂 Hope I can give some advice too! If any students want to see the life of a MEDICAL STUDENT, please check out my vlogs xx

  • very interesting video =) i was never good at history, because i wasn't good at seeing the bigger picture and making connections… i guess i didn't even care enough to study all the facts xD but i'm very happy with medicine now… good thing we all have different interests

  • hay elli i am asad ali by name i tell u simple way to momrize the histry through your birth and childhood events

  • I'm studying history in Austria and wow, there are a lot of similarities 🙂
    And I hate medieval history as well. So boring. (I love ancient history, though :D)

  • well done

  • Hannah, I am keen on studying history next year at university after I leave school (don't know which one yet) but I am worried about the step-up from A level history and the work load!! Do you have any tips about how to succeed your 1st year???

  • The passion you guys have is inspiring. Yall make history sound so interesting, i'm sad that i am taking engineering 🙁

  • Hannah is truly elegant

  • This video has helped me so much! History has become my passion not only in school but in my everyday life. People have always dissuaded me from studying history further but this video has made me confident about my decision. Thank you guys so much, it's such a great feeling knowing that there are other people out there that enjoy history and learning so much! Xxx

  • I'm in my second year of a history and our lecturers tell us not to even use the word bias as everything is biased. Say why and what its bias is but seriously do not in seminars say something has a bias … you will get laughed at by the lecturers, it happened in my first seminar to someone!

  • Studying history in America is so different! Very interesting to learn about it.

  • I'm hoping to study English and I want to go to Birmingham bc the course and everything there is ajsdlkfajsdklfjaklsj

  • Sounds a lot like literary studies actually

  • under the sea

  • I wish more videos like this were made, it's helpful for us at sixth form/college

  • +Hannah Witton did you have interest in pursuing PhD (you or your friend) ? Why if yes or no? 🙂

  • I learnt more from this one video than i have in my first 2 terms at uni.

  • I study history too! and i would like to go for a Mphil degree in UK. do u have any suggestions?

  • How much do you want Hannah to be your history teacher? she would be the best!

  • bout 90% of my uni grades are firsts and most of what these girls said is pretty much balls (i study history at bham) it's no different to a-level, in approach or difficulty.

  • hahahahaha 😃

  • Don't know if you knew but I went to the History talk at Birmingham's open day and one professor showed this video

  • Do you remember what you wrote for your personal statements?? Like how many books did you read etc?? Thanks!

  • I loved this. Having the body language of friendship illustrated is super useful.

  • Under the sea hahahaha

  • Very informative video =) and also …. thanks to the Doctor for this fantastic definition of time :))

  • You're both exceptionally eloquent. I don't think I'm going to be all that good at explaining myself at University. One of many fears.

  • What exactly is Hannah's degree?

  • Yay for Hannahs who are history majors! I got one 7 years ago and even still I use the tools I got from that every day. I feel like history majors really know how to research well and how to critically think.

  • Hey Hannah. What did you after finishing your degree? I have just finished my degree in History as well, and I would like to study a postgraduate in UK? Is it difficult to study a Marketing Postgraduate (for instance) having studied History?
    Thanks for your videos! Keep it up!

  • war history is written by the winners. think about that.

  • Amazing video! I'm also studying history but currently in a public university in south Brazil. There's a great diversity of themes here that i am really into, way beyond traditional ones. Hope the best for both of you !

  • Hey this is for people who aren't on this video: FMRI PET scanner. Understand?

  • Cannabis is been used in India like 4000 years back and now changed rules by US, what is this, does everyone live like the US does? its not the same everywhere. ands and means balance sheet is not zero

  • Was plastic invented first or polio

  • completely objective from their perspective

  • High school I thought history was just to mug up names and I don't remember anything for long long time wow

  • do u miss roosters and fab n fresh?

  • I am studying History in Norway at the moment, really fun, but I cant decide what to write about for my Bachelor thesis, you have any good advice on how to choose the topic? My teachers want us to write about really local history, which dont interest me at all, so hoping for some good advice 🙂 And I wonder how long did you study history for?

  • i am studying history too with psychology and economics as side subjects i like it, i love it so fuck the people who are saying i wont find a job, theres always a way so shut your freaking mouth

  • "isn't History already known" is often questioned by English students who don't see the irony that they focus on either fictional books or Dickens and Shakespeare.

  • I'm sorry (and this has probably been pointed out before) but as I am majoring Doctor Who in the School Of Life I feel I need to mention that it's "Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Whimey Stuff" not the other way around. Oh and I am majoring Art History in University.

  • so exciting!

  • Oh my goodness I want that Tudors class! O_O We didn't have that kind of option in my history department.

  • Just about to start year two, after the first year, I'm so glad I decided to study it!

  • i'm studying History in Portugal! Hope yall like it as much as i'm liking it.

  • Worthless degree

  • This is beyond moronic. One thing's for certain – don't apply to Birmingham because complete twits go there.

  • Considering I've actually applied for UoB now (History and English, Literature based), I feel like I actually can watch this video and count it as not procrastinating

  • I desperately want to study history but I feel as though it will not be beneficial to my future. I’m not to keen on being a teacher or professor, what other career options are out there besides becoming a historian?

  • If this video was accurate, it would just be a compilation of you getting pounded by some guy you've known for less than a day, every single day. Prove me wrong.

  • I’m currently in second year in uni studying history and I was wondering if you could do a video on how you coped/dealt with your dissertation, how it came to picking your topic and how you went around doing it

  • as a stemer (statistician)… I'd love to be served coffee by you girls ^_^

  • Do you think history is a good degree? Would you do it again? We’re you able to get a job?

  • I’m gonna guess you’re in the UK??

  • History has always been my passion so I can't wait to go to uni and study it

  • …………… wibbly wobbly timey whimey ………

  • I can't wait to go to university and study history😍

  • im in my final year at Uni , majoring in History and civilizations .basically we learn every civilizations in this world but after I watched your video I just found out that history is more than learning about the people of the past ,like Hannah is studying about Sexual history that's awesome and I really want to know more about that ,btw I love your video ,sending hugs from Malaysia 🙂

  • I see those LOTR books behind you. That’s how I know you’re trustworthy

  • If you are going to study history, just remember to figure out what "products" you want to create with a history degree. Writing? Verbal communication (ex. teaching)? Websites?

  • ugh i love history i'm so glad i made the switch from political science to history, of which the former i pursued simply because it seemed that opportunities will be better with it

  • Thank you for the video. I know it's been a few years. I'm really scared and indecisive about post-secondary options because even though I love history, will it be beneficially for me? People are also saying a history degree is useless in obtaining a financially-secure job but I think I just have to go for it. Debt or no debt, I don't want regrets, as naive as that sounds.

  • What are exams like? Are they similar to A-level?

  • I wanna become a historian when I older so this really helped and I am very passionate with my history so thanks

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