Historians work with all kinds of sources and data, evaluate them, record them and classify them in order to disseminate historical knowledge in a diverse way to society. Historical sources used can be of various kinds; annals, court documents, photographs, diaries, letters, minutes, news items and a variety of printed and unprinted material as well as oral sources.

Historians perform a variety of jobs, for example in research and chronicling, publishing and media activities, storing books and documents or teaching and research at all school levels. There are also many specialties within history, such as political history, economic history, gender history, social history and the history of ideas.

Main tasks

• assessing the reliability and value of sources
• drawing a picture of the past, people’s circumstances and mentality
• categorizing and listing sources
• utilizing the results of research in other disciplines in historical research
• connecting events and explaining causation

Competence requirements

Historians must be very interested in history and historical knowledge. Accurate and independent work methods are essential qualities, as well as patience and critical thinking. Historians work with a variety of documents and computer programs related to such work.


The University of Iceland a three-year undergraduate study program for a BA degree in history but also postgraduate studies for a master’s and doctoral degree.

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