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5 Historical Students: What Would They Do Now?

28th September 2016 Posted by: Tom Hagues

THERE are countless amazing and interesting people throughout history who have achieved staggeringly impressive feats. Some of them will have gone to universities, but those university experiences will have been nothing like they are today. With this in mind, we imagined what some great minds from the past would study if they turned up to a university fresher’s week in this century.

Abraham Lincoln

The 16th president of the United States is credited with ending slavery, strengthening the US federal government and modernising the country’s economy. Pretty good, don’t you think? Lincoln was originally a lawyer, so he’d have probably been interested in the English and American Law course at King’s College London, but he might also have liked Social and Political Sciences course at the University of York due to his dedication of improving the lives of his fellow countrymen after the bloody Civil War. Having said that, we know he was keen on the theatre, so who’s to say that he would have been out of place on the University of Glasgow’s Theatre Studies degree?



Henry VIII

Arguably one of England’s most famous monarchs, Henry VIII is well known for his thirst for war, his turbulent marital life and penchant for large and drink-fuelled feasts. Henry’s Tudor era was riddled with wars and battles, particularly after he defected from the Catholic Church and started the Church of England. Perhaps he would consider War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton in order to brush up on his tactics? Then again, he might also be tempted by the University of Kent’s Religious Studies course considering he was bold enough to start his own church – if he were to do it again he might want to have a degree under his belt to help him do it.



The Wright Brothers

Orville and Wilbur Wright never attended university and neither of them received their high school diplomas when they should have. Despite this, they are responsible for making fixed-wing flight possible, with the creation of mechanical structures that allowed planes to be manipulated through the air without losing equilibrium. The pair were excellent self-taught engineers, using experience with the mechanics of printing presses and bicycles as lessons in engineering so they’d have both been right at home on the Aeronautical Engineering course at Loughborough University. Having said that, they would have both benefited from Coventry University’s Aviation Management course because, according to reports, the pair weren’t quite business-minded enough to dominate the early aviation industry.


Emmeline Pankhurst

She is one of the most important women in history and fought tirelessly as the leader of the suffragette movement for women and their right to vote, as well as pushing for social reform after seeing the poor conditions in Manchester’s workhouses. Of course, the University of Brighton’s Social Science degree is an obvious choice, as it covers a broad range of modules and social subjects and would allow her to go on to a career in political reform. There’s always the possibility that she’d be tempted to further her education and do an MSt in Women’s Studies at Oxford, giving her the chance to research more into feminist theory and, in today’s world, fight against the gender pay gap, sexism and employment inequalities.




She was the last pharaoh of Egypt from the Ptolemaic dynasty and the period after her reign saw Egypt become a province of the Roman Empire – she also had a relationship with Julius Caesar after apparently rolling herself up in a carpet and being smuggled into his palace in order to meet with him. With such dedication to bring the two civilisations together, surely Cleopatra would be keen on the University of Nottingham’s Politics and International Relations degree. Cleopatra came from a Greek legacy and her family, including her father – who ruled Egypt before her – refused to speak anything but Ancient Greek, meaning court papers were drawn up in both Greek and Egyptian. This also explains why the Rosetta Stone has both languages on it but, breaking from tradition, Cleopatra learned Egyptian. Her commitment to learning the Egyptian language while maintaining her Greek heritage suggests she’d have been a fan of the Classics degree at the University of Bristol.


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