History is a science in and of itself and like most if not all scientific fields, History is divided into many more sub-categories, each specifically studying a period of Human history or a specific region of the world.
If you are studying for a History degree or you are already an undergraduate aiming for a bachelor, you will most likely study many though not all, aspects of History.
With the rise of civilisations, not in one unique location on the planet but everywhere man had settled, many different cultures emerged across the globe. Each of these cultures possesses their own history, often written down by local historians but frequently passed from a generation to the other through oral tradition.
Not only history is divided chronologically and geographically, but some fields of history also study specific subjects of Human culture, such as:
There is much more than that still. There is even a field of History called Historiography, which is the history of history. Instead of subjecting actual events – say, the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy – to historical analysis, the object of historiography is the history of the history of the event: how it has been written, the often conflicting bias pursued by those writing about it through time, and the way in which such circumstances shape our understanding of the actual event in question, and of the nature of history itself.
Questions of historiography include the following:
To keep it simple we will only look at the main groups of history, Ancient, Postclassical and Modern as well as Art History.
The History of humanity starts when the first civilisation emerged and historians defined everything that came before as Pre-History.
Commonly, Ancient history is accepted to begin around 3000BCE with the apparition of early writing system in Mesopotamia. It extends up until the 6th century CE when the Western Roman Empire collapsed following a succession of invasion and the death of the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus.
Archaeology has been at the centre of any research regarding Ancient History. It has played a huge part in our knowledge of early civilizations, from the excavation of the Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor in ancient China to the exploration of the Mayan Pyramids in South America.
Even though, most of our current knowledge of Ancient time events relies on the writings and accounts of antiquity historians (Herodotus, Thucydides, Arrian, Plutarch, Polybius, Sima Qian, Sallust, Livy, Josephus, Suetonius, and Tacitus), those records were often produced decades if not centuries after the events they described occurred and they are always to take with some precautions.
Egypt, as the birth place of one of the earliest civilisation on the planet, is full of historical sites that have fascinated historians for hundreds of years. (by Retlaw Snellac Photography)
Whereas Ancient History stop in 500CE, Modern History only starts around 1500, depending on the geographic region you are studying. So what happened during those roughly 1000 years?
Those ten centuries of history is what Historians refer to as the Middles Ages or Medieval times. In Western and Central Europe this era started when the Roman Empire collapsed but it is not exactly the same for all parts of the world.
For Scandinavia including current Denmark, Finland and Norway, the Medieval times is often assimilated to the Age of the Vikings, beginning in 793 with the first ever recorded Viking invasion in England and lasted until the failed invasion attempted by the Norwegian king Harald III (Haraldr Harðráði), who was defeated by Saxon King Harold Godwinson in 1066 at the Battle of Stamford Bridge; in Ireland. The same year, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and descendant of Vikings himself defeated Harold Godwinson and became King of England.
In the East, Japan’s medieval period is commonly accepted to start with the Nara period (when Empress Genmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō) in 709 and ended with the last battle of Sekighahara in 1600 when Tokugawa and his allies defeated the Toyotomi regime and unified the country.
At the same time on the continent, China’s different historical periods did not follow the same pattern and the Imperial Era of China began in 221 with the Qin dynasty and only ended with the Qing Emperor in 1911.
In the Middle East and North Africa as well as the Iberian Peninsula, Medieval times were marked by the ascent of Islam and the creation of powerful Empires.
As studying and following history courses requires a lot of critical thinking skills as well as research skills, many university alumni who graduated from a scholar institution with a degree level in History turn to the law after completing their undergraduate tuition and become lawyers.
The Vikings left far more than just a few casks in England (by Arthur_ASCII)
The Middles Ages slowly faded in Europe as Renaissance was making its way to a full-blown social, religious and economic change. Even though the Renaissance movement started in Italy around the 13th century, with the rediscovery of Antic philosopher and the contact with the scientific knowledge of the Middle East, Medieval History only ended around the year 1500 following a few major events:
Academics commonly split Modern History into two periods, Early Modern History and Late Modern History. For students who have successfully past the admission stage in their undergraduate degree, Modern History will probably be studied over more than one semester along with other humanities discipline, some elective and some mandatory.
Early Modern History includes:
History is such a vast and interesting subject that most universities and school institutions offer the possibility to pursue a History degree or to study history in an interdisciplinary bachelor of arts degree for example. You could even look past your graduation and continue on getting a doctoral degree in History.
Commonly accepted to start at the end of the 18th century and was marked by major events such as:
If you study civilization and societies, time spent in the classroom will mainly focus on historical research and analytical and critical thinking, all research skills being the requirement for journalism or a career in sociology.
Laocoon and his Sons’ was one of the first piece of art to be describe by an Historian, Pliny the Elder (by Kartlyn Earth & ArtKN)
One of the sub-categories of History is the History of Art. While the main focus of Historians has mostly been to study and analyse historical, religious, social and political events through different periods, Art History has been focused on something different.
Art Historians have been studying the visual, aural and oral expression of humanity. Scholars scrutinising Art History have been trying to interpret visual art, music and fictional writings through a thorough investigation using different approaches and methodologies.
One of the earliest Art Historians that we know of is one of the most Antiquity Historian, namely Pliny the Elder. During his time he was considered to be one of the most famous Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher and even served as a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire.
If you are studying liberal arts, it is very likely that your coursework and curriculum will include some Art History before the completion of your degree programs.
There are many more fields of History that one can spend their life to study, from Western civilization to Latin American History, African History, anthropology, American History or even African American History. The different history degrees that you can earn are many if not endless.