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History students will relate to these 6 irritating things

“Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?”

We've all heard that one.

1) Referencing will become the bane of your life

As well as having to read hundreds of pages per essay, history students have the added bonus of having to add a full reference in their essay for every single source they read, every single time they refer to it. The situation isn’t helped by the sheer amount of options; you can reference using endnotes or footnotes, and then there’s Harvard, Chicago or Oxford - and that’s barely scraped the surface.

2) Trying to convince people that history leads to a career outside of education

For some unknown reason, the majority of people who don’t study history assume it only leads to a career in higher education. In reality, history graduates can go into a range of careers including broadcasting, journalism, finance and politics. The skills gained from studying history include research, analysis and written communication. This makes the subject as valid as any other for an interesting and varied career. 

3) Trying to read medieval sources doesn’t get any easier

One obvious bonus of studying contemporary history is that the sources came into existence after the creation of the printing press, and language had developed into what we can recognise today. Trying to study older sources, particularly pre-eighteenth century, can be as difficult as trying to read a foreign language. Handwritten manuscripts from up to 1000 years ago present a particularly difficult challenge.

4) Not fully understanding where tuition fees go

History students don’t often get more than 10 contact hours per week, and yet courses generally cost the full £9250 tuition fee per year. When you multiply that by the few hundred students on your course, I think it’s fair to question where on earth all of the money is going! It’s more understandable in the cases of the medics or dentists who essentially spend their lives at the medical school, but less so for BA subjects.

5) Being relied on in the pub quiz

Every so often you’ll come up with a blinder like knowing the exact date a politician was assassinated, but more often than not the history questions in the quiz will extend to a part of the subject you’ve never studied. People don’t have too much sympathy when you don’t know an answer, despite the word ‘history’ being an umbrella term for literally the entirety of human existence.

6) Having to defend the subject becomes a bore

Comments along the lines of ‘history doesn’t matter, it’s all in the past’ soon begin to grow tedious. Besides the fact that a lot of the material is interesting, understanding history is a vital part of modernity. The ability to remember and regret means we can learn and evolve to improve and prevent making the same mistakes again.

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