School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations

History Overview

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EH Carr once described history as an unending dialogue between past and present. History is as essential to human society as memory is to an individual. Through the study of History we explore our past in an effort to understand our present. It also offers reference points for speculation about what might be possible in the future. It provides a framework within which complex issues of identity, morality and reality can be argued out.

History staff at Victoria research and write internationally recognised books and articles on a wide range of topics, as diverse as the history of science and magic, representation of history in film, the slave trade, clothing and nationalism and demographic change.

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Why Study History at Victoria?

We offer a wide range of  History courses taught by staff with international reputations for teaching and research. We have the best research archives and resources in the country for New Zealand History, as well as good early modern material right on our doorstep:

  • Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (previously New Zealand Film Archive)
  • Alexander Turnbull Library
  • New Zealand Historic Places Trust
  • National Archives
  • Waitangi Tribunal
  • Museum of Wellington - City and Sea
  • Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa
  • The National Library

The Information Revolution requires problem solvers who can identify a problem, discuss it and suggest solutions. We would argue that you gain these skills through studying History. Through in-depth analysis of particular historical periods and sequences of events, you will not only build specific bodies of knowledge necessary for particular jobs, but also acquire generic skills that are essential to employability. History teaches important research skills, notably the careful collection, selection, and interpretation of evidence, from a wide variety of sources. Studying History also helps develop analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills, as well as encouraging imagination and creativity.

History students are actively involved in promoting the discipline. The New Historians Postgraduate Conference, organised by current postgraduate students, is an annual event that gives postgraduates from around the country the opportunity to present papers and establish close ties within the New Zealand postgraduate research community.

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History Programme Research Seminars are held regularly during teaching periods. All PhD and MA students must make a work-in-progress presentation.

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Tutoring or marking work is often available for History MA and PhD students. To find our more please see  History resources page.

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Outreach Programme

Over recent years History staff in conjunction with Wellington Area History Teachers' Association have run a Year 13 Day for final year school students.  For more information please see the History Secondary Schools' Outreach Programme page.

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Further Information

For more information on History at Victoria please go to the History subjects page.

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Graduate Attributes

All History courses contribute to understanding the development of the historical discipline and the following specific attributes:

Critical Thinking

  • Assess conflicting or different arguments
  • Develop understanding of historical events, context and change
  • Use appropriate methodologies to evaluate evidence

Creative Thinking

  • Synthesise information in a clear, logical and lively way
  • Create well-documented interpretations of historical events
  • Search for patterns in historical processes over time and space


  • Develop lucid historical arguments through writing and oral discussion
  • Use library print and online resources efficiently and constructively
  • Strengthen learning through collegial interchange


  • Pursue and manage independent research
  • Develop critical citizenship
  • Develop confidence through public speaking
  • Strengthen decision-making capabilities


  • Understand the development of the historical discipline