In Kent’s School of History, you are taught by top academic staff who value your opinions and encourage you to study widely. Military history forms the main thrust of the programme, an area often sidelined by similar courses, with modules reflecting our research interests, which range from war and culture to the evolution of tank warfare.
The University of Kent is in a unique geographic position to study war and its effects. Canterbury and Kent have been ‘Frontline Britain’ in British military history and contain significant military sites, ranging from Roman forts to Cold War nuclear bunkers. We have easy access to the continent, particularly the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars.
Our degree programme
In addition to Military History modules, you can select modules from our diverse pool of History modules.
In your first year, you take introductory modules on military history. You choose further options from a wide selection which includes modules on medieval Europe, Vikings, the history of empires, and the ‘Home Front’ in the Second World War.
In your second and final years, there are no compulsory modules, which means you can focus on areas of particular interest to you. Modules available cover topics from the Crusades to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, and include options on Napoleon and Europe, the British army and empire, and the origins of the Second World War. It is also possible to apply for a work placement at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham.
In your final year, you complete a dissertation within the field of military history on a subject of your choice. This gives you the opportunity to independently design a project and conduct research under the supervision of a member of academic staff.
Year on professional placement
It is possible to take this programme with a work placement between the second and final year of your degree – this can provide valuable work experience and the chance to gain new skills. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply. See Course structure.
The University library has a vast collection of relevant material, including:
a rare, complete set of British official histories of both world wars a complete run of Second World War Ministry of Information pamphlets on the armed services a comprehensive collection of Nazi, Soviet, American and British propaganda films.
You can get involved with the student-run Military History and History societies, which in previous years have organised lectures, social events and trips across Europe.
The School of History also organises talks from visiting speakers that you are welcome to attend. In addition, there are regular careers workshops and visits from successful alumni.
Over the years, the School has forged close relationships with historians at several institutions, including:
Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Centre for First World War Studies, Birmingham
We also have close links with the National Army Museum and the Royal Engineers Museum Library and Archive.
Military History video
Hear from one of our students what it’s like to study Military History at Kent.
Teaching is through a combination of lectures and seminars. Lectures are often used to provide the broad overview, while seminars focus on particular issues and are led by student presentations. Lectures and seminars use a variety of materials, including original documents, films and documentaries, illuminated manuscripts, and slide and PowerPoint demonstrations. Lectures usually last one hour and seminars are one or two hours, depending on the module.
The School of History uses a mixture of assessment patterns. The standard formats are 100% coursework or 60% examination and 40% coursework.
The School also has excellent student support arrangements. Alongside our Student Support Officer, each student is assigned an academic tutor. All module convenors keep regular office hours, and the School has a policy of returning at least one essay on each module in a one-to-one personal meeting, allowing for additional verbal feedback and discussion.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- how people have reacted to and conceived of war in differing contexts, past and present
- the origins and development of warfare in human societies, the justifications for war and its outcomes
- the structure, nature and operation of institutions and states in differing contexts, through the medium of warfare
- the contestable nature of many interpretations of war, both from original sources and from contemporary academics and commentators
- questions of genre, content, perspective and purpose within a range of historical and contemporary texts and materials
- the problems inherent in the historical and contemporary record; awareness of a range of viewpoints, the limitations of knowledge, and the dangers of simplistic explanations
- war from different perspectives within the disciplines of history and politics/IR
- the social, political, cultural and military aspects of warfare
- the power structures and impulses to use war as a form of human interaction.
You gain intellectual skills in the following areas:
- how to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of primary and secondary sources
- the ability to identify, investigate and analyse primary and secondary information
- how to develop reasoned arguments based on reflection, study and critical judgement
- how to differentiate between arguments
- the ability to reflect on and manage your own learning and make use of constructive feedback from peers and staff to enhance your own performance.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- the understanding of the nature of war and its significance as a global and historical human activity
- the application of methods, concepts and theories used in the studies of history and politics/IR
- the evaluation of different interpretations and sources
- the ability to marshal an argument, and to summarise and defend a particular interpretation or analysis of events.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- communication – the ability to organise information clearly; respond to written sources; present information orally; adapt style for different audiences; use images as a communications tool
- numeracy – the ability to read graphs and tables; integrate numerical and non-numerical information; understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information
- information technology – the ability to produce written documents; undertake online research; process information using databases and spreadsheets (where necessary)
- independence of mind and initiative
- self-discipline and self-motivation
- the ability to work with others and have respect for others' reasoned views.
The programme aims to:
- place the study of war, in its historical and political contexts, at the centre of student learning and analysis
- ensure that students understand modes of theory and analysis used in history and politics/IR and are aware of the differing and contested aspects of these disciplines
- develop students' capacities to think critically about war in all its forms and interpretations
- encourage students to relate the academic study of war to questions of public debate and concern
- provide a curriculum supported by scholarship and research that promotes the breadth and depth of intellectual enquiry and debate
- assist students to develop cognitive and transferable skills relevant to their vocational and personal development.