Twenty Years of History at Lincoln

Dr Kate Hill

The academic year 2019-20 marks the twentieth anniversary of the BA History at Lincoln, and we’re going to mark the occasion with a series of blog posts from alumni and staff who’ve been part of the programme over the years. As someone who has taught on the programme from the outset, and the last remaining member of staff from that period, I wanted to introduce the anniversary posts and to record what I can still remember from then – I can recall shockingly little for a historian!

When I first joined what was then the University of Humberside, it was to teach on two interdisciplinary programmes, Literary and Historical Studies and Humanities, both of which were mostly English Literature and History, along with some Cultural Studies. It was becoming clear, though, especially with the phased move to Lincoln from 1996, that student numbers were rising, the type of student was changing, and there was increasing appetite for single-subject programmes.

So we developed two new programmes, the BA English and the BA History, and they launched in September 1999. There were, at the time, just five historians working here, all specialising in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries and nearly all with a British focus. The programme did not, therefore, feature any of the diversity to be seen on the current BA, but the five of us did our best – the library at the new Lincoln campus was still, at this stage, very small, and History holdings again mainly focused on Britain in the nineteenth- and twentieth centuries.

There were less than ten students in the first intake in 1999 (thus giving a pretty good staff-student ratio in the first years!). They were a varied and lively group who, for example, decided to hire a minibus to go on a field trip to York. Several of them went into teaching afterwards. Despite the smallness of the group they were really good fun to teach and all very committed.

Since then, the programme has gone from strength to strength. We now regularly have over 150 in a year, and the size of the programme has enabled students to launch a student History Society which has really enriched the experience of studying here. The staff base has grown so that we have more than 35 people teaching on the programme. We have modules focusing on Medieval Iberia, the history of Chinese medicine, colonial East Africa, and the Habsburg Empire. Our graduates have gone on to careers in HR, environmental management, heritage, journalism, local government, and charities as well as teaching; a number have undertaken funded PhDs. We’ve developed MA programmes and supervised PhDs, as well as starting a number of allied programmes such as the BA Philosophy and the BA Classical Studies. We’ve always been very lucky with our students who’ve been keen to act as course reps and to work with us in other capacities over the years to help us improve the programme. It’s been such a pleasure and privilege to be part of the BA History over the last twenty years and I’m sure the next twenty will be even better!