Humanities: Understand the classics for success in the modern world

Studying the humanities is effectively investigating the cultures of humanity. When we examine human life pre-history up to modern day, we begin to comprehend behaviours, activities and decisions of people across the ages – a factor that’s key to understanding how this has shaped, and continues shaping, the world as we know it.

From language and music, history to archaeology, and philosophical debate; the humanities are a diverse and insightful band of subjects that home in on the core principles of human kind.

But the idea of studying the such expansive fields can at times seem more than a little overwhelming. For prospective students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, there’s the potential to choose from a vast array of humanities-based courses in their chosen field.

Each discipline holds its own unique identity, and generally speaking, humanities students are well-rounded graduates who are highly sought-after among potential employers. Traditional subjects under the humanities umbrella frequently do well in employability tables, with history, philosophy and language studies all ranking in the Top 12 degree subjects for getting a graduate job.

Encouraged to think creatively and ‘outside the box’, humanities students are well-versed in writing and presenting ideas, as well as being good problem solvers who are trained to think critically with arguments that are thorough and well-researched. With these transferable skills at hand, there’s hardly a shortage of career opportunities on offer to future graduates.

As we progress through the information era, there’s been a noticable shift in the types of subjects students are opting to pursue. The past few years alone have seen a rapid surge in numbers of students choosing STEM-based subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). As technology continues to alter society in a multitude of ways, it’s more vital now than ever to study the humanities in the hopes of understanding a fast-evolving world.

Below is an overview world-class universities and courses for prospective humanities students:


Ranked in the top one percent of universities worldwide, Southampton is a serious contender for your postgraduate needs. Notably, University of Southampton is one of 24 selected universities in the UK to be selected as part of the esteemed Russell Group; a body of research-intensive universities dedicated to outstanding teaching with excellent links to local and national businesses, as well as the public sector.

The Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton offers a broad range of postgraduate subjects from seven separate disciplines. Courses include, but are not limited to: MA Film and Cultural Management, MMus Music (Performance, Composition, Musicology), MA in Applied Linguistics and MSc Business and Heritage Management.

So whether you would like to learn about the impact of the cultural sector on public policy, enhance your music talents while learning about the ideas behind iconic music performances, or otherwise understand the fundamentals of language in society; Southampton’s taught postgraduate degrees span the entire humanities discipline.

With such an active faculty, postgraduate students can expect to learn from world-class academics, engaging in interdisciplinary research across the humanities department.  Highlights from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) saw Southampton ranked best in the country on the basis of the volume and quality of work with regards to their music research. Studies undertaken for history, modern languages and film also performed exceedingly well, ranking within the UK’s top five. Should University of Southampton be your choice, there are ample opportunities to open doors to success in your future career.


Situated on the Northeast coast of Scotland, the University of Aberdeen is a public research university with a history dating back to 1495, when the original institution was founded. Today, the University of Aberdeen is a highly-desired place of study, ranking within the top 50 universities in the UK.

The university’s School of Social Science presents an array of courses for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in three distinct study disciplines; sociology, politics and international relations, and anthropology. The latter undergraduate course recently ranked in the top 100 anthropology courses on offer worldwide.

Aberdeen has a high research output and for students looking to further their studies and research capabilities, the School of Social Science also has five affiliated research centres: the Centre for Gender Studies, the New Europe Centre, European Centre for Survey Research, the Centre for Global Security and Governance, and the Institute for Conflict, Transition and Peace Research.

A detailed brochure of Aberdeen’s postgraduate humanities degrees can be found here.


The Humanities and Social Sciences department is the largest of the three faculties at Newcastle University. Situated in the Northeast of the UK in the cultural hub of Newcastle, prospective students can choose from eight schools that cover the humanities discipline, ranging from the School of Arts and Cultures, the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, to the School of Modern Languages. For postgraduate students, there are a vast number of MA courses that span every subject, so you’re bound to find something to suit your learning interests.

This year the university has gone up in the ratings tables, placing it in the top 30 universities nationally. Overall, Newcastle University has received a high student satisfaction rating with regards to the courses on offer, and the levels of teaching.

For students seeking study at the postgraduate level, Newcastle has three research institutes to support students’ research interests. These are: Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute (NUHRI), Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice (NICAP) and Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal (NISR).


Based in the vibrant Somerset city, the University of Bristol has a reputation for world-class teaching, placing itself in the top 30 universities nationally, and in the top 50 universities worldwide. This institution also made the history books as the first UK higher education provider to admit men and women on an equal basis.

The School of Humanities caters to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, with the faculty divided into five departments: Classics and Ancient History, English, History, History of Art and Religion and Theology.

For postgraduate students, the university offers MA’s in the following subjects: English Literature, History, History of Art and Religion. However, the university also encourages applications for research degrees into specialist topics that involve interdisciplinary research.

The university also has in excess of 30 different research clusters that concentrate on specialist rtopics. Alongside this there are five separate faculty research centres, supporting and engaging students, and preparing them for life post-study.


For students choosing to study in Northern Ireland’s capital, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty at Queen’s University Belfast offers a vast range of specialised disciplines. Covering everything from traditional humanities and social science subjects to cutting-edge areas in the creative arts, the university describes itself as an intellectual powerhouse, ranking in the top 50 universities nationally this year.

Postgraduate students can choose from a range of taught and research based MA’s, from Public Policy to Theology, Political Psychology, History and English Literary Studies.

To coincide with studying, Queens boasts a vibrant research culture, with over 40 percent of their research activities ranked in the top 25 percent of its respective field. Students from all subjects are encouraged to interact with academic leaders and take part in research. In recent years, the institution’s studies into creative writing, children’s well-being and poverty and social exclusion have been recognised as areas of notable excellence.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International.

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