Manchester Metropolitan University: David Nicholls, Professor and Head of Department, Introduces History at MMU

By Nicholls, David | History Review, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Manchester Metropolitan University: David Nicholls, Professor and Head of Department, Introduces History at MMU


Nicholls, David, History Review


The City

Anyone who witnessed the recent Commonwealth Games will be aware of just how vibrant and progressive Manchester has become. Over the past decade, the city has been transformed, assisted in part by the restoration that followed the IRA bomb of June 1996. Manchester boasts smart and exclusive shops, including massive out-of-town complexes like the Trafford Centre, ultra-modern hotels, one of the most advanced tram systems in Europe, continental style squares with open air coffee shops and canal side walks.

Yet, amidst all this modernisation, Manchester has succeeded in retaining much of its Victorian splendour. A lot of what was ugly about the city has been pulled down and replaced, while that which was worth preserving has been restored to its former glory. Its legacy as the first industrial city can be seen in the numerous museums, galleries and heritage centres scattered in and around the city. Some are long-established, like the Museum of Science and Industry; some have been modernised and transformed, like the City Art Gallery; and some are entirely new, like Urbis and the Imperial War Museum of the North. All constitute a valuable resource for historians. Manchester is therefore both a stimulating place in which to study the past and a forward-looking city in which to prepare for a future career.

Leisure time

It is also a place in which to relax. It boasts two famous football clubs. Old Trafford is, of course, known the world over as the home of ... Lancashire Cricket Club! The National Cycling Centre is based in the Manchester Velodrome. Basketball and ice hockey can be followed at the MEN Arena. The Commonwealth Games bequeathed to Manchester not only the splendid stadium at Sportscity but also the Aquatics Centre, located adjacent to the University and open to its students. In addition, MMU has its own sporting facilities and numerous clubs and societies, catering for all tastes and ranging from Aikido to Yoga, that reflect its size as the one of the largest universities in the country. Manchester has restaurants to suit any palate but is particularly renowned for its 'Curry Mile' in Rusholme and for some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country, located in its Chinatown district. It also has a reputation for its cheap but excellent and diverse beers, its music-scene, clubs, pubs, cafes and bars.

History Degrees

The progressive and enterprising character of the city is mirrored in the History courses taught at MMU. Teaching takes place in the Geoffrey Manton Building (see photos), a modern purpose-built building with some of the best teaching facilities to be found anywhere in the country, including lecture theatres and seminar rooms with state-of-the-art audiovisual and computing equipment and with excellent access for those with physical disabilities. There is a good library on site and students also have reciprocal rights to use the other university libraries in the city, including John Rylands, the third largest Academic library in Britain. Manchester's excellent public Central Library is within a short walking distance.

The Department of History and Economic History has a complement of twenty-one full-time teaching staff, many of whom have international reputations in their specialised areas of research. History can be studied as a subject in its own right or in combination with one or more humanities and social science subjects, such as Politics, Sociology, English, Economics, Philosophy, Geography, or a European language, and it is possible to pursue thematic routes, such as Cultural Studies or European Studies. This allows for great flexibility--allowing not just for wide choice but a delay in specialising for those who remain unsure at the time of applying or who wish to broaden their intellectual interests.

Like most History degrees, the BA History at MMU offers wide geographical and chronological coverage. Courses in British, European, North and South American and Asian history are available, ranging from first century AD Pompeii to the contemporary period and becoming more specialised through the three years of the programme. …

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