History is a tricky subject that students love and hate at the same time. Those who are fascinated by it most choose it as their major and as the result, they enter Durham, Cambridge, Exeter, and other universities, hoping to become professionals in their field. But before anyone can graduate and receive their diploma, they have to write a dissertation.
Choosing among history dissertation topics is incredibly difficult because there is a huge variety of interesting areas that can be studied there. More than that, in the majority of cases, they are very complicated, which makes students feel discouraged.
Dissertation is an essential, fairly long piece of academic writing that serves as an evidence of everything a student has learnt in university. For history students, it’s a great chance to show how their mind works, how effectively they can find, use, and analyse information. All these qualities are essential in historians, so writing a high-quality history dissertation paves a way for a student’s successful professional future.
Structuring Dissertations: Rules & Tips
Before starting your dissertation, it’s important to learn what sections it should entail and what they should be about. History dissertation structure doesn’t really differ from those written on other subjects, so you won’t have to spend a long time on trying to find all rules. Let’s regard main sections that must be present.
- Introduction. In this part, you have to present the background your topic has and the reason why you chose to explore it in particular. Don’t use first person pronouns unless it’s a reflection section, just use more general terms. History dissertation introduction must have thesis or hypothesis as well as research questions, all revolving around your chosen sphere.
- Literature Review. Here, you should provide an overview along with synthesis of all relevant primary as well as secondary sources you have gathered during your research. This section is one of the most crucial ones and its quality partly depends on your theme, so be extra careful and thoughtful when sorting through history dissertation topics. It shouldn’t just be a summary, though. You have to show your understanding of the concepts discussed, then synthesise information from groups of sources. Unite them based on differences or similarities, compare or contrast them briefly, and answer “so what” question.
- Methodology. This is a simple yet tricky part because it requires you to explain just how your research was done. Some students prefer to order their dissertation methodology from EduBirdie because the process of describing all your steps and formats can be rather tedious. You have to be rational, objective, and truthful here.
- Results. Present everything you have found in your research, clearly showing which hypotheses were proven and which were refuted.
- Discussion. Discuss your findings. Reveal what implications they have for history as a field, how they can help in future studies, and what else needs to be done to improve the results.
- Conclusion. List the main points that your history dissertation has here. Emphasise the relevance your findings and limitations possess once again.
- Bibliography. Cite every source you have used in your work.
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History Dissertation Topics Sample
When undergraduate students are looking for history dissertation ideas, they often start panicking because while this field is extremely wide, locating the one topic that would stir personal interest is complicated. To assist you in this process, we’ve selected seven most relevant categories of history dissertations and provided their brief overview as well as a list of topics that could be explored under them. Look through them and feel free to use any of them you might like!
Historical People & Events History Dissertation Topics
This category is universal and exciting because it can feature literally any period that interests you. Think of historical figures that had some impact on the world or pick a specific event. The following topics fall under this group:
- Hitler: birth and education as contributors to his war views as well as the effects
- Explicit/implicit Reformation goals
- Why did it take so long for Berlin Wall to fall?
- Reasons that have led to all American Revolution stages
- Queen Victoria’s politics and the way they have changed Great Britain
- Stalin: many-layered journey to ultimate power
- Sebastien Michaelis: emergence & role in French inquisition
- Battle of Waterloo: background & implications
- Most influential President in American history
- Slave Trade Act along with its historical repercussions for al Great Britain citizans.
The First World War History Dissertation Topics
The events that happened during First World War remain relevant even now because barely a century has passed since them while the destruction they caused was extreme. There are many aspects that can be studied under this large theme.
- Causes that First World War had: overview of all sides’ reasoning
- USSR’s role in WW I
- Consequences that First World War had for all parties involved in it
- Three most meaningful decisions that affected conclusion of First World War
- British soldiers in WW I: conditions, motivations, as well as battles
- Fairness of repercussions for Germany after First World War
- Evaluation of most impactful unions concluded during WW I.
- Hitler in First World War: Bavarian Army
- Germany defeat in WW1 as a source for its further aggression
- Ways in which WW1 could have been avoided
“The Great Depression” History Dissertation Topics
This economic crisis has affected the entire world and its consequences have forever shaped conditions that many countries continue living in now. It has numerous nuances that can be explored in a dissertation.
- Great Migration vs. Great Depression: links, factors, as well as consequences
- Ways in which Great Depression could have been overcome sooner
- Black Tuesday meaning & implications
- College & university students during Great Depression
- Bank insurance along with problems associated with it during Great Depression
- Historical precedents for another Great Depression happening under modern conditions
- Parties that gained wealth during Great Depression
- New Deal and its impacts on events leading to Great Depression
- Positive consequences that Great Depression had
- Countries that benefited as well as lost most due to Great Depression
Second World War History Dissertation Topics
Second World War remains a painful and tragic reminder of a staggering amount of lives lost. Its relevance won’t fade any time soon because it happened relatively recently and there are still people who participated in it.
- What would have happened in the world if Germany had won the Second World War?
- Mistakes of Soviet side in Second WW.
- Strengths Hitler’s army possessed that secured the majority of its victories
- Country that suffered most as WW II results.
- Repercussions that Second WW had for Germany & Japan: similarities & differences
- Fife events that ensured Allies’ victory over Germany
- Reasons explaining overemphasis placed on American bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
- Black people during Second World War
- Nazi experiments’ consequence for prisoners for modern German medicine
- US reasoning for accepting escaped Nazi criminals
Napoleon III History Dissertation Topics
Napoleon is a central person in history who continues to be wildly discussed. His uniqueness as a leader can provide an excellent ground for detailed research.
- Napoleon’s coming into power: a combination of varied factors
- Historical repercussions of Napoleon’s leadership style
- Military strategies that allowed Napoleon to win crucial battles
- Background of Napoleon as a great military leader
- Napoleon’s involvement in Russian campaign: reasoning as well as implications
- Napoleon vs. Hitler: motivations, plans & consequences
- Napoleonic era: its background along with its links to French future
- Ways in which Napoleon could have won against Russians
- Most relevant battle in Napoleon’s life
- Legacy that Napoleon has had together with its modern displays
Mussolini’s Italy History Dissertation Topics
Mussolini is another famous leader who affected lives of numerous people and countries. His politics are still studied due to close ties they had with WW2.
- Mussolini & Hitler: connection along with its consequences for Italy
- Fascism development in Italy under Mussolini’s regimen
- Mussolini’s decision for rising to power in Italy
- Groups of people who suffered most under Mussolini’s dictatorship
- Mussolini as most influential Italian leader
- Two main features characterising Mussolini’s coming into power
- Politics Mussolini implemented when controlling Italy
- Fall of Mussolini & his regimen in Italy
- Hitler’s influence on Mussolini’s viewpoints
- Positive and negative development Italy witnessed under Mussolini
Nazi Germany History Dissertation Topics
Even now, Nazis’ achievements and horrors continue to benefit as well as plague the world. Understanding them can assist in preserving their good sides and eliminating bad ones.
- Could have Nazi Germany existed longer?
- Reasons for destruction of Nazi Germany
- Consequences of Nazi Germany politics on entire world
- Achievements vs. failures of Nazi Germany that determined war results
- Life in Nazi Germany for ordinary citizens
- Did the majority of Germans support Nazi Germany regimen?
- Life in post- Nazi Germany
- Reaction Nazi Germany citizens expressed towards Hitler’s death as their leader
- Violent politics escalation in Nazi Germany
- How could have Nazi Germany survived indefinitely?
Three Examples of Possible History Dissertations
To understand how to write a history dissertation, it’s important to see some samples. We’ve picked three random topics and provided overview of their essential points. Check these history dissertation examples for enhanced understanding.
Topic 1: Homosexual people in Second World War and afterwards
LGBT community has existed in more or less equal quantities at all times, including periods where their existence was regarded as a crime. Second World War was one of such periods, even though homosexual people participated in it, sacrificing their lives along with health for the well-being of their countries, they were still persecuted harshly. This dissertation analyses how they were treated by both Soviet and Nazi forces during as well as after the war.
MacPike, Loralee. “Coming out under Fire: The History of Gay Men & Women in World War Two by Allan Berube; Odd Girls & Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America by Lillian Faderman.” Oral History Review, vol. 21, no. 1, 1993, pp. 133-137.
Topic 2: Life of famous Nazi representatives who managed to escape after Soviet victory
After Nazi Germany was defeated, many people were tried as well as executed for their atrocities. However, some have managed to escape. Josef Mengele is one of such people who left the country and built quite a successful life for himself, even finding sponsorship for further medical practice. This dissertation will explore how he achieved this and who might have helped in his escape.
Suggested reading material:
Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Josef Mengele. German Physician." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Josef-Mengele.
Topic 3: Changing attitudes of people towards Nazi occupation of their territories
People living on territories occupied by Germany reacted differently to this change in power. In fact, while some resisted violently, chose death over submission, others reacted positively, cheering for Nazis in the hope that their lives would improve. This dissertation will focus on how these attitudes differed among various populations and how they transformed with time.
Suggested initial reading:
Bellezza, Simone A. "The Discourse over the Nationality Question in Nazi-Occupied Ukraine: The Generalbezirk Dnjepropetrowsk, 1941-3." Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 43, no. 4, 2008, pp. 573-596.
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