BA History (V100) Personal Statement
Submitted by Gemma
History is such a diverse subject. I find it fascinating because there are thousands of events, spanning thousands of years and hundreds of countries to discover. For this reason, there is always new knowledge to gain and new stories to be told. Not only does history enable discovery of past events and attitudes but it can be interpreted in many ways. Reading The Historian at Work by John Cannon opened my eyes to the diversification of history as Cannon wrote that ‘all history is, in essence, the product of the historian’s mind.’ This inspired me to look at events of history in a different way because the view of an event can be completely changed by analysing it with a different mindset. For example, Henry VIII is often viewed as an aggressive ruler who initiated unnecessary wars. However, it is interesting to consider this from the alternative view of his advisors and question whether this was a reflection of Henry’s own beliefs or those of his ministers.
Learning about Nazi Germany as part of my A-Level history course sparked my interest in discovering how the other involved countries prepared for war. As a result, I visited the Churchill War Rooms which gave an insight into how Britain prepared for and conducted the war. I found it fascinating that the majority of the work towards organising the combat and structure of the British troops took place in just a few underground rooms in London. Visiting the area in which this would have taken place gave me an understanding of the atmosphere and tension that would have occurred that I would not have otherwise experienced. Following this, I read the article The War Department in World War II by John D. Millett from The American Political Science Review whereby I learnt how America mobilised for war and built more military equipment than Germany and Japan despite being, initially, largely unprepared.
Undertaking an EPQ has allowed me to channel my enjoyment of analysing, discussing, and deploying historical evidence in to a topic of my interest: Jack the Ripper. I chose to research Jack the Ripper because it was a specific topic within history that intrigued me but that I had never had the chance to study. It was also different to aspects of history I have studied before as I looked at popular culture’s effect on historical interpretations: an interesting perspective that uncovers different outlooks of history that you don’t otherwise learn about, such as its presentation in film and tourism. It was also an opportunity to expand on and develop the critical thinking and analytical skills that are essential when studying history, especially at a degree level.
Studying English Literature has enabled me to develop a better understanding for the importance of history. History is essential in understanding why authors wrote how they did. Without historical knowledge, understanding texts written in previous eras would not be possible. An understanding of the economic and social situation of the Victorian era proves essential when studying Robert Browning’s poetry. This is because the social disruption that features extensively in his writing reflects the changing attitudes and beliefs of the Victorian period in which he wrote.
Being a member of the history prefect team has helped me develop my communication, teamwork, and organisation skills. These skills are crucial to collaborate successfully on displays and assemblies to ensure all members of the team complete tasks effectively and efficiently. My roles in classroom attachment and as a peer mentor have enabled me to develop these skills further as they gave me the opportunity to experience working with and sharing my love of history with a range of ages and personalities.
Overall, studying history at university would be beneficial because not only would I be able to study a subject that I love, but it would enable me to gain and develop skills such as critical thinking which are useful within different industries.