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BA (Hons) History and Politics course preparation

To help you feel prepared for your university studies, we’ve gathered together a range of course related activities including suggested reading, useful websites and some great things to do right now. Open the links below to find out more:

Suggested reading

You will be given lots of information about which textbooks to read and introduced to the University Library, as well as the many ebooks we have for you to access, when you begin your studies in September.

In the meantime, there are a few suggested books you might like to read before starting your degree if you can. We don’t recommend rushing out to buy texts before you arrive but if you can pick some up second hand, borrow from a library or access online to read over the summer, we suggest:


Three books to read before starting your degree

  • A Short History of the Middle Ages – by B. Roswein
  • Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800 – 1914 by R. Gildea
  • In Defence of History by R. Evans

HIS1012: Europe Re-Made

  • Peter Brown (2003) The Rise of Western Christendom

HIS1010: The Medieval Outlook

  • Gildea, R (2009) Barricades and Borders. Oxford: Oxford University Press

HIS1017:  History and Society: Theory, Practice and Impact

  • Spalding, R, Parker, C. Historiography: An Introduction. Manchester: Manchester University Press



Politics is a live subject and so the printed material changes regularly and goes out of date quickly. The Edge Hill library has a good stock of books on both the theory and practice of Politics and tutors will talk you through this in the week before teaching starts. However you can prepare by looking for the following in large public libraries (if they are open) and online.

  • Besly et al (2018) How Parliament Works (might be listed under Rogers) London. Routledge
  • Ferdinand et al (2018) Politics. Oxford. OUP
  • Westen (2008) The Political Brain. New York. Public Affair

Also look for political biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and diaries. Material by or about any current or recent politician or political operator will be useful. We particularly recommend:

  • Balls, Ed (2016) Speaking Out. London. Biteback
  • Clegg, Nick (2017) Politics: Between the Extremes. London. Vintage
  • Prince, Rosa (2018) Comrade Corbyn (also earlier edition available). London. Biteback
  • Clarke, Kenneth (2016) Kind of Blue. London. Macmillan
  • Seldon, Anthony (2019) May at 10. London. Biteback

You will be studying Political Theories in your first year. You can often find some of the key texts on line. They should also be available in cheap paperback form and are guaranteed not to go out of date. If you can, have a look at one or both of these:

  • Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty
  • Marx and Engels. The Communist Manifesto

Useful websites and podcasts


Things to do now

This summer you should:

  • Read some of the blogs about UK politics. Conservative Home, Labour List and Lib Dem Voice are among those checked regularly by tutors.
  • Get into the habit of regularly reading a ‘good’ newspaper. Wrestling with the complexities of the present is good practice for dealing with the complexities of the past.
  • Get into the habit of reading on a regular basis, at least 30 minutes a day. The evidential basis of history has no limit.
  • Familiarise yourself with the precise academic meanings of terms like Ancient, Modern, Medieval, Post-modern and Historiography.
  • Pay attention to the political news in the national and local media.

A few more ideas for you to try over the summer

Meet your programme leaders

Roger Spalding – History programme lead

Paula Keaveney