University of Portsmouth's History Blog

One of the questions we’re most frequently asked by students who will be joining us as first years in the autumn term is “What reading do we need to do to prepare for the course?”

When you join us and register in September, you will gain access to all of our library resources, including e-books and journals – there is no need for you to spend money in advance! 

But, it can be really helpful to keep thinking about History-related things over the summer. Members of the History team have put together this list of suggestions of things to read or listen to. For students joining us for the first time in September, the bottom of the list includes some general introductory books that relate to your modules – but remember there is no need to buy and read these in advance – they will be available when you arrive. 

Whatever area or period of history you’re interested in, there’s lots here to pique your interests!

Happy reading – and enjoy your summer!

Dr Katy Gibbons, Principal Lecturer, Subject Area Lead in History


General Reading


https://theconversation.com/uk (you might spot articles by some of your History lecturers here!)


More Specialised Blogs:





Not just the Tudors: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/not-just-the-tudors/id1564113869

History Extra: https://www.historyextra.com/period/20th-century/rebuilding-europe-after-ww2-paul-betts-podcast/

Histories of the Unexpected: https://historiesoftheunexpected.com/podcasts/

In Our Time: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl

History Unplugged: https://podcasts.apple.com/al/podcast/history-unplugged-podcast/id1237796990

Historical Association: https://www.history.org.uk/podcasts/list



These novels engage with the past in a number of different ways. They also cover topics and themes that you will come across in the course of your degree. 

Please note – you are not obliged or expected to buy any of these, but if you are interested, perhaps you could look out for a second hand copy, or visit your local public library!


This Lovely City by Louise Hare 



The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson (our very own Rob James advised on the research for this!)



Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett



Rizzio by Denise Mina 



The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry



A Book of Secrets by Kate Morrison



On Golden Hill by Francis Spufford



Ulverton by Adam Thorpe



General Textbooks


What is History Now? Eds. Susannah Lipscomb and Helena Carr 



The European World, 1500-1800, ed. Beat Kumin



The  Birth of the Modern World, by C. R. Bayly



Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, Robert Gildea



Twentieth Century Europe: A Brief History, eds. Michael D. Richards and Paul Waibel




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