Faculty of PhilosophyHistory

Historical science captures, analyses and interprets human livingworlds in their temporal change and asks about the causes and conditions of historical development.

The subject History is chronologically subdivided into antiquity, the middle ages and modernity. Heidelberg University essentially distinguishes between the historical periods ancient history (Greek and Roman history), medieval history (early, high, and late medieval history), modern history (1500-1900 - early modern and modern history) and contemporary history (as of 1900 - contemporary history). Pre- and protohistory constitutes an independent subject that covers the periods without written testimony and is associated with archaeology.In addition to chronological organisation, the subject can also be distinguished geographically. Medieval as well as Modern and Contemporary History are represented in the Department of History in Heidelberg. The Department of Ancient History and Epigraphy is a separate department. The Department of History has own professorships for individual subject-specific and regional specialisations: American History (with the Schurman library), Eastern European History (also with own library), Social and Economic History as well as Public History, Comparative National History from a European perspective (with the library of the Institute of the History of Franconia and the Palatinate). The range of offered courses are also taught by historians from other institutes, such as from the department for South Asian history of the South Asia Institute, the Cluster Asia and Europe, Transcultural Studies, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, the Institute of History of Medicine of the Medical Faculty as well as the nearby Heidelberg College for Jewish Studies.

Special Features and Characteristics

In the context of long-term cooperations, representatives of numerous important cultural and scientific institutions from the town, region and state are regularly involved in the range of offered courses and play a substantial role in integrating specialist and professionally relevant topics in the department’s teaching practice. Cooperation partners include, e.g., the Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Kurpfälzisches Museum, the Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte, the Reiss-Engelhorn museums in Mannheim, the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer or the Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart. In order to open up new professional perspectives, the Department of History places a great emphasis on internships.  

Knowledge of foreign languages is a requirement to study history. Students continuously practise and develop their language skills by reading and interpreting original-language sources and research literature. University study periods abroad provide students with the opportunity to learn about scientific culture and, in particular, the historical narratives of other countries. Therefore, we encourage and promote semesters abroad. Our exchange programmes in Europe and the USA support student mobility.  

The department’s approach is based on differentiated and integrative learning. For example, we offer courses that are specifically oriented towards particular qualification levels. These include introductory lectures, original text practice classes and preparatory seminars in the basic modules for new students. In other courses, students of different qualification levels are purposely taught together, mainly in lectures and practice classes. Depending on the level, these courses address the students at their respective skill levels. Courses in which learning predominantly takes place in seminar discussions, plenary discussions or group work encourage fruitful discussions among the students. 


  • Ancient history: Political anthropology Ancient religions Greek cultural history Roman economical and social history Towns in late antiquity Greek and Latin epigraphy 
  • Medieval history: Comparative history of Europe in the Middle Ages Configuration of orders Perception and identity formation Types and presentations of governance Political will-formation and its ritualisation History of orders and piety History of the Mediterranean region Transcultural history 
  • Early modern history: Comparative history of Europe in Early Modernity Self-perception and outside perception Identity formation Types and representations of governance Political theory Media history, historical analysis of images 
  • Modern history: General history of the 19th and 20th centuries  Global history: Globalisation processes and transnational networks History of European expansion and colonial history Culture and knowledge transfer, transnational history of science, information cultures 
  • Contemporary history: Comparative history of Europe Overcoming dictatorships and development of civil society in the 20th century  Historical peace and conflict research Culture of memory Contemporary history in mass media 
  • American history: History of race relations and Afro-American civil rights The role of the USA in international relations Constitutional history Cultural history 
  • East European history: History of Russia, the Ukraine and the Soviet Union in the 19th and 20th century Comparison of dictatorships Stalinism - National Socialism Second World War, occupation experiences, the Holocaust, forced labour and collaboration Transitional justice, reparations, legal and justice culture History of knowledge and science Revolutions Social and national movements 
  • National history: History of socio-political orders in medieval Europe Comparative national history in the European context History of the Electoral Palatinate Rank and power in princely high nobility Urban cultures of memory in the late Middle Ages 
  • Historical methodology: with specialisations in paleography/codicology and diplomatics, and in close cooperation with the Department for Latin Philology of the Middle Ages and the Modern Era 
  • Economical and social history: Links between the history of economic, social and cultural perspectives and methods European economical and social history from the 18th to the 12st century  The history of industrial labour relations and indistrial crises, theory of economical and social history, corporate history Gender studies Commemoration and recollection 
  • Public history: Correlations between history and the public sphere Applied history Audiovisual aspects of history Historical exhibitions History of science and politics of knowledge History of the Federal Republic of Germany and Western Europe after 1945

Occupational Areas

Graduates can potentially enter careers in the following fields: 

  • State and private sector archives 
  • Historical museums and exhibitions 
  • Universities and research institutes 
  • History marketing and agencies 
  • Adult education and continuing education 
  • Media and communication 
  • Cultural institutions and sponsoring 
  • Advisory services in politics and culture 
  • Political institutions and non-governmental organisations 
  • Publishing and libraries 
  • Journalism and specialist journalism 
  • Administration and public service 
  • Schools/Teaching at secondary schools


Studierende Geschichte Uni Heidelberg

For me, History is characterised by its knowledge diversity. It allows for a differentiated analysis of past realities and different ways of life, and exemplifies how they still shape the present day and our identities. Studying History in Heidelberg is extremely appealing due to the associated challenge of learning the scientific skills, the breadth of topics and fields of research, and the quality of the academic programme itself.

Suzan Gülcan Göz, 22, History, 7th semester Bachelor