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History Courses overview
History is about discovering and understanding the past. From recent events of the 20th century to the brutal lives led in early civilisations 12,000 years go, historians hope to understand the present by understanding who we once were. Postgraduate study covers a broad range of time periods and themes, allowing students to delve deeper into areas of particular interest. Some degrees are even dedicated to specific periods, be it ancient Rome, feudal Japan or 18th century Poland.
The history of history has its own term: “historiography.” Historiographers have uncovered written historical texts across the world. The Zho Zhuan is the earliest historical text, written in 5th century BCE China on the period between 722 to 468 BCE. The Japanese Rikkokushi published in the 9th century CE detailed both history and myth from the country. The ancient Greeks and Romans pioneered historical writing in Europe. Nations continued flourishing in the publication of historical records right up until present day.
Modern historians hold themselves to the highest standard, divorcing themselves from bias whenever possible. They bear the dignified and important duty of shaping how people for years to come view the past.
Is history for me?
History is for those with a penchant for looking into the past. It’s a passion as much as it is a career, requiring an enthusiasm for learning what really happened. Historians must discern biased accounts from unbiased ones, reading over extraordinary amounts of material. If you have exceptional attention to detail, strong literary skills and an inquisitive nature, history could be for you.
History can be generally be taken up to master level, with graduate certificates and diplomas also available. PhDs are also available to those who wish to research a particular area in exceptional depth.
Graduate certificates allow students to gain rudimentary historical insights into an area of their choosing. Macquarie University offers certificates in ancient history as an example, which in turn have their own specialisations in areas like ancient Egyptian, Greek, Coptic, Latin or Hebrew. The only requirement for entry these courses tend to pose is a bachelor degree, but it can be from any discipline. These certificates take six months of full time study to complete, or one year part time.
Graduate diplomas are taught in a similar vein, only they take one year of full time study to complete up to two years part time. There are exceptions to the rule however, with the University of New England and similar institutions offering these courses at one and a half years full time or six years part time. These courses explore a variety of historical disciplines, with the aforementioned specialising in heritage conservation, museums, oral history, monuments and others. Students can enter these courses from any discipline, so long as they hold a bachelor qualification.
Master degrees are ideally suited to those desiring a more comprehensive understanding of history in a specific field of historical research. They take two years of full time study to complete, or four years part time. Institutions like Australian National University offer a huge choice of units, with topics like life in fourth century Athens, the Roman republic, the Dark Ages, the world wars, the French revolution and Napoleon, the Vikings, Columbus and more. Applicants can be from any discipline, so long as they have a credit GPA (65%) or higher.
Cultural heritage manager
These professionals are responsible for preserving a monument, museum or other landmark from history. Not only does this require historical knowledge and appreciation, but the business acumen to devise sustainable funding solutions to preserve and maintain these monuments. ACHM is dedicated to this practice, making sure historical sites get the recognition and protection they deserve.
Knowing the historical relevance of pivotal figures, places and events of the past gives graduates the upper hand in this career. They are able to select and critique each potential exhibition and evaluate whether or not it is fit to be displayed. Landmarks like the Australian War Memorial, Australian Museum and Australian National Maritime Museum all benefit from sound curation.
Novelist George Santayana used to say, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” which is exactly what teaching prevents. As a secondary teacher, graduates can help shape the minds of students for the better by sharing with them their knowledge of what came before. Schools around the country can utilise secondary history teachers.
History specialisations are as numerous as all the periods and regions of human history. Where on historian or student of history might have extensive knowledge of the Ottoman Turks, another might be well-versed in battles of the European Dark Ages. Another might be an expert in the Mughal Empire and another still in the inner workings of ancient Sumerian or Indus Valley cultures. Specialisations are centered around areas of interest rather than bespoke occupations.