What are some tips for studying history

History is boring, from yesterday and uninteresting for today? That's not true! The selection of topics and research areas is large and offers a change from the school curriculum. The methodical approaches also enable you to critically analyze and question today's social processes and not only work in dusty archives or museums.

By Linda Flür

Marco2811 - stock.adobe.com

Studying history also means reflecting on how history was “written”.

1. Briefly + briefly

2. The study

Course content

History, where does it begin and where does it end?
History begins around 3000 BC. Earlier times are partly covered by archeology, which also deals with antiquity and the Middle Ages. Contemporary history deals with events up to today.
History offers a great variety and variety. From antiquity, around 3000 BC. From B.C. to contemporary history, the future historians grapple with important events by looking at and evaluating sources from the respective time. A historian questions and reconstructs the past with the help of specific questions.

For example, it can show the development of the relationship between people in Europe and the sea. Starting with the Greek port city of Piraeus through to today's tourism boom of cruise ships. It turns out that the seas did not have a recreational function until the beginning of the 19th century. Before that, the seas were used for transport and armed conflicts.

By dealing with the past by means of specific questions, the researchers can connect and question the events with today's developments. This ability is not only required in museums or archives, it is also a great advantage in the journalistic field.

Critical examination of history

Due to the constant change of perspective of the researchers through their own environment, new insights into the historical events can still be gained today. This is mainly done through the discovery of new sources of all kinds. The story is therefore not “final, but always changes in the eyes of the viewer and the historian. Some historians also deal with this, especially in historiography, the history of historical science. The slogan "The winners write the story" should therefore be used with caution, because studying history should lead to a critical examination of sources and literature.

However, there is also no question that history can be viewed purely objectively, because that is not true. Even if the historian Leopold von Ranke had demanded this and said that the historian was there to show how it really was. But that is not possible, because historians always look at what happened out of its context. Historians have to keep this in mind when dealing with their own research.

Related subjects

Precisely because history is such a large subject, there is no avoiding overlap with other subjects. These include: When choosing your second (minor) subject, you should find out which subjects are to be studied in advance at the student advisory service complementary to the story and which are more likely to duplicate, so that you acquire a broad knowledge.

Course structure

At most universities, the bachelor's program is in the epochs Ancient, Middle Ages and Modern Times divided, for each of which a proseminar and a main seminar have to be done. The order in which the epochs are dealt with does not matter.

In these three "large" there are, among other things, further sub-areas that can and must be covered:
  • Roman history
  • Greek history
  • Early modern age
  • Contemporary history
  • Eastern European history
  • Public history
  • Global history
Public history is a rather young part of history and deals with the representation of history in public spaces (museums, exhibitions, monuments, etc.).

However, this can vary from university to university. Each lecturer and professor has their own focus and accordingly offers various seminars. It may be that at one university social history is more in the foreground and at another university the war history is more in the foreground.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense to find out about the selection of topics on the university's homepage before you apply to the respective university and experience nasty surprises, as your own favorite topic is not dealt with at all or only little. The course catalogs are also made available to non-students on the homepage.

In the Proseminars In addition, propaedeutic things are taught, such as: Correct quoting, research and bibliographies. In addition, important literature and source directories for the respective epoch are discussed.

In the Main seminars then the epochs are deepened, or different theories are worked on and discussed. In addition to the content-related seminars, there are also seminars, especially for student teachers, that deal with the didactics of history. There they deal with teaching methods, but also with possible project presentations in museums or other institutions with historical connections.

In recent years, however, some of the seminars have become quite schooled. Most of the time, presentations are given and some of the discussions are neglected. However, there is a visible trend that the lecturers are saying goodbye to this process and are looking for and offering alternative services for the students.

Also are Homework the most important form of examination in the subject. So it can happen that in one semester up to two or three term papers or essays are written and several hundred pages of text have to be read. You should always keep this in mind if you are interested in studying history.

3. Duration of history studies and degrees

The history usually takes a degree 6 semesters and is called Bachelor of Arts completed with a bachelor thesis. A total of 180 ECTS points (credit points) are earned.

History is often studied as part of a multiple bachelor's degree. It can be a major or a minor. There are also degree programs in which it is half of a 2-subject bachelor's degree.

You can then complete a master’s degree in history or a similar master’s degree. The Master of Arts can in 4 semesters to be completed, with 120 credits must be provided.

In addition, history can be studied to become a teacher, usually as a Bachelor and Master of Education, and more rarely for a state examination. Further information can be found in our article Studying to become a teacher.

Forms of study of history

The classic form of history studies is full-time face-to-face study. You study full-time at a university where you go to events (lectures, exercises, tutorials, depending on the subject, also projects, laboratory, etc.) and where the exams take place. Full-time means roughly 40 hours / week, whereby in reality there are usually phases with less time expenditure compared to others (especially before larger exams) in which more time per week is spent on studying.

There are also part-time courses, i.e. the course is organized in such a way that you can complete your studies with less time per week, but with a correspondingly longer period of study.

4. What does a history course cost?

Total cost of living

During a history degree you need a financial basis for accommodation at the place of study, for food, clothing, travel expenses, telephone & internet as well as books & workbooks. Depending on the location and your own thrift, the monthly expenses between € 630 and over € 1,500. On average, students now spend over € 850 a month.

Munich is the front runner in terms of rents and the cost of living, but Frankfurt / Main, Hamburg, Cologne and increasingly Berlin are also well above average. It is cheaper to live in smaller cities away from the metropolises, especially in the new federal states.

Main cost: rent

The Rent for a room in a flat share, depending on the city 269 ​​euros and 585 euros (2018 values ​​plus five percent). Thanks to the 26th BAföG Amendment Act, the rental fee has been at least € 325 since the 2019/20 winter semester. Despite the increase, this amount is not enough in many cities to cover the costs of a room in a shared apartment or even an apartment.

Costs depending on location and personal situation

There is another half-yearly for the course Semester fee to pay. This enables cheaper cafeteria prices, for example. In some study cities, a semester ticket for local public transport is included, which increases the semester fee, but is significantly cheaper than other season tickets for the respective transport association. There are also student bicycle workshops at some of the larger universities.

Health insurance costs must be taken into account if family insurance through the parents is no longer possible.

Do I have to pay tuition fees to study history?

Practically all bachelor's and consecutive masters can take part state universities without tuition fees to be started. Consecutive Master’s degrees follow a bachelor’s degree in the same subject (or at least a similar one) and do not require any professional experience. In some federal states, however, a long course or a second course is subject to a fee.


5. How can I pay for my history studies?

Money from parents

A job of yours parents - and that is even explicitly regulated in the German Civil Code (BGB § 1610) - it is to you one adequate professional training to enable. This also includes you during your studies financially or with board and lodging to help out. The decision as to whether it should be a degree and which subject area is primarily up to you, if your school leaving certificate enables you to take this path. The state supports your parents with child benefit, among other things, which in exceptional cases can also be paid out directly to you.

If your parents have little income or are no longer obliged to support them, BAföG comes into play.

BAföG benefits: it pays to apply

BAföG for students step in when your parents - from the perspective of the law - have too little incomein order to provide sufficient support for a course of study. If you are under 30 years of age and have not started any vocational training, BAföG is usually safe for your studies - otherwise check your BAföG entitlement. With our BAföG calculator you can calculate the amount of your BAföG.

Student BAföG is a social benefit, of which a maximum of 50 percent must be paid back. The BAföG repayment is limited to € 10,010, starts only years later and only if enough is earned. Have you already completed an apprenticeship and then worked for several years and in a few other exceptional cases you could even do so Parent-independent BAföG give for you.

Scholarships for studying history

Scholarships are available to a much smaller group than BAföG. Greatest advantage: Received through grants Funding is given. Often there is also one ideal support. In order to apply for a scholarship, a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, recommendations and certificates are usually required.

The major student funding agencies award scholarships according to BAföG rules (i.e. depending on the parents' income). In addition, there are 300 euros “book money” per month for everyone. The application process usually begins six months in advance.

In addition to the large student funding agencies, there are still many other foundationswho each award a few (or really only individual) scholarships. Such small foundations are often very persistent special funding purposes, so that not always just performance Is a preferred feature.

For Stays abroad during your studies there can be funding in the form of ERASMUS grants or through the DAAD.

Jobs as a student trainee / mini job / self-employed

Most students work at least part of the time during their studies, often as Mini jobbers or as Working student. Working hours are allowed during the lecture period 20 hours per week do not exceed.

BAföG will be offset if your average earnings are over 450 euros in the month. In contrast to tax, the decisive factor is not the calendar year, but the period in which the BAföG is granted.

Special features apply if you are self-employed as a student.

State education loan and other options

There is the for students in higher semesters or in the Master’s program state education loan with low interest rates and a payout of up to 300 euros / month for at most two years.

A student loan (or an education fund), on the other hand, should only be considered as a last resort if the cheaper options are insufficient or if, for example, at the end of your studies you should be able to concentrate on studying without a job.

If you have already reached the last semesters of your studies, can possibly - especially in social emergencies - also a Graduation loan or bridging loans are possible. Do not be afraid to inquire and - if possible for you - to take advantage of one. The conditions are much better than for educational loans or even student loans!

We have collected all the relevant sources of funding for your studies: BAföG, educational loans, jobs, child benefits, scholarships, student loans, parental support and much more

6. Career opportunities with a history degree

If you study history as a subject to become a teacher, the chances of hiring depend primarily on the further subject and the type of school. A few tips can be found in the study guide for teacher training under employment opportunities. Otherwise, even in the field of history, the stubborn stereotype remains that the career prospects are not exactly rosy. It is not quiet right. Studies have shown that only around 4.9% of history graduates remain unemployed.

Nevertheless, you have to be clear that the dream job does not just fall at your feet. At some universities, compulsory internships (outside of the teacher training course) are also a must, where you can already feel in which direction you want to go after your studies.

In addition to the museum and archive work - which can be quite exciting - and the already mentioned teaching profession, entry into the journalistic field is possible. In addition, advisory bodies in politics or business can also be of interest to historians. Of course, the graduates can stay at the university, do their doctorate and do research, but that is not always easy either.

Nevertheless, the focus should initially be on the interest and desire to study history and not on the supposedly poor career prospects. This applies not only to history, but also to the humanities in general.

How quickly can you find a job after graduation?

A look at the last DZHW graduate survey (published in 2016) shows that in the humanities the Waiting time for employment under six months lies. It is around 3.9 months after completing the bachelor's degree, and an average of 5.2 months after completing the master’s degree. The most promising is that Application for an advertised Job. Around 60% of Bachelor graduates got a job like this. In the case of Master’s graduates, it was even 85%.

Historians therefore have a very positive start to their careers.

7. Salary

Salary in € Master Uni
Ø Department of Humanities / History; Survey: DZHW.
Graduates who specialize in history or another humanities master-Can graduate with a Starting salary of € 24,500 arithmetic (number refers to university degree).

With a Bachelor-The degree is Starting salary € 23,400. The difference to the starting salary of a master’s graduate is small in the humanities.

Do these numbers seem very small to you? This may be due to the fact that many graduates do an internship or start as a trainee after graduation.

Five years after graduation is the annual salary of historians at € 50,040. Compared to the starting salary, the number has more than doubled.It should be noted, however, that this salary applies to all humanities scholars.

Another five years later, well 10 years after graduation the annual salary is about 54.390 €

For (prospective) teachers, the salary depends on civil servant status, legal clerkship and federal state. Further information on the salary of a teacher can be found here: Salary of teachers.

As with all salary information, the following applies: Depending on the specific position in the company, industry, size of the company, place of employment and much more, concrete salaries differ more or less strongly from average figures. Since the numbers are a few years old, the current salaries should be even higher.

additional Information

Study opportunities

More information on the net

©2021 Students online / Oliver + Katrin Iost GbR, Hamburg
URL of this page: https://www.studis-online.de/Studiengaenge/Geschichte/