The first reason to study one of these subjects, or two in combination, is that you have a passion or fascination for these fields of inquiry. Our students and staff share an enthusiasm for their subjects, and find these areas of study profoundly important and deeply satisfying.
A second reason, for many students, is that you have a natural gifting; these subjects are where you get your best marks. And you are not alone. Many subjects in the humanities are very popular with highly motivated students and you will meet many fellow students equally enthusiastic about their academic discipline.
More profoundly, at the heart of these subjects is the desire to discover more about what it means to be human, and to grow in an understanding of our culture and others.
There is no final answer in scholarly inquiry in the Humanities. The student and the academic share the task of understanding different perspectives, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, balancing them against other viewpoints, and constructing a well-argued case, based on a combination of evidence and a knowledge of the insights of others. There is no quick fix, no easy solution, no off-the-shelf final answer. This means the harder you work, reading around your subject and developing your understanding, the greater your reward. (We don’t expect you to spend all your time studying as a student, but we do encourage you to work hard, play hard and live life to the full.)
In the Humanities you will develop skills of critical analysis, gathering evidence and evaluating arguments. You will examine texts and other sources carefully, learning skills that can make your interpretation precise and convincing. You will draw on information from different sources to develop your case. You will weigh up different perspectives and schools of thought, and learn not to jump to conclusions but to produce a well-balanced and persuasive argument. We will help you sharpen these skills, that will prove invaluable lifelong, both in your private life and in your career. We will empower you to think for yourself, to learn to work in teams with others, and to present your case in writing, in discussions and in presentations.
We passionately believe that the Humanities offer an education for life. Many of today’s students will probably have four or five careers after university. Studying the Humanities will equip you with transferable skills that are applicable in many different life contexts: we don’t want to educate you just for your next job, but to equip you for lifelong employability. Of course, many students will consider becoming teachers; there will always be a strong demand for teachers in the Humanities, which have been made central to the English Baccalaureate, and you will have the opportunity to convey your love of your subject to the rising generations.
Of course, an education for life is about much more than work, even though we all need a source of income. Many students in the Humanities find their love of their subject grows richer and deeper at university. Many extend their interests with a new love of music, theatre, literature or film or a deepening fascination with other cultures and religions. Many historians, archaeologists and theologians find this is not simply a subject they study, but it becomes a part of who they are. For many of us, studying the Humanities does not end at graduation, but lights flames of interest that burn brightly lifelong. Studying the Humanities cannot guarantee you a huge bank balance, but it does provide opportunities to become a richer, more rounded and fulfilled person.
Message from Professor Rob Warner, Dean of Humanities
"I am so glad I chose to study in the Humanities as a young student (first English Literature, and then Theology, in my case). My studies were not just chalked off as a qualification, but they have enriched my life and journeyed with me. Studying the Humanities made my careers possible, in commercial publishing, the voluntary sector and university teaching and research, management and leadership. But even more important than that, my studies opened out opportunities to visit historic cities, admire art in the great galleries of the world, develop a love of theatre and opera, and continue to be inspired and provoked by the world’s greatest thinkers, novelists and poets.
"I know I’m biased, but if you have the talent to thrive in the study of the Humanities, it will be a privilege to welcome you to this university."