Higher Ed style Conference for History Students

History students were inspired at a university-style conference called ‘Symposium on Saladin and the Third Crusade’ recently. Hosted by renowned scholar and TV historian Dr Thomas Asbridge (pictured with College students), the day involved lectures and a round table discussion with international historians and other FE and HE students.

Annie Coloe, previously at Farnborough Hill School said: ‘I found it really interesting as it gave us a taste of what reading History at University would be like. It gave us the opportunity to gain more knowledge on the subject which will come in very useful for exams. It was also extremely entertaining to see academics arguing so passionately about their subject- similar to some class discussions we've had. Overall I really enjoyed it and their passion has definitely motivated me to work harder to understand that period of history.’

The day was organised around a series of academic papers presented by international experts on issues relating to the Third Crusade. Amongst the most interesting were: a presentation on what we can learn from songs and poems from the time demonstrating how people viewed the Crusade and its impact upon their lives, the role played by Conrad of Montferrat in defending the City of Tyre against Saladin in 1189-90; and Saladin's rise to power.

The Third Crusade is one of the major topics that A Level History students study in the Crusades to Churchill option. The Crusades component involves an examination of the background to, execution and impact of the First Three Crusades, the nature of life in the Crusader States that were set up as a result, and the way in which relations between the worlds of Christendom and Islam were shaped as a result. Given the current situation in the Middle East, in which the legacy of past Christian-Islamic conflict is evident, the course is exciting, diverse and topical.

At the symposium, the students were asked to listen to the various papers, and then participate in question and answer sessions based upon their subject matter. A final round table discussion was held as a free-for-all, with a view to setting out how future studies into the Third Crusade might proceed. Alton College historians Jack Woodstock, previously at Salesian College, and Rachael Arkell, previously at Perins School both made impressive contributions to this latter debate. 

Those who attended were really excited to meet some well-known historians, and in particular Thomas Asbridge (of Queen Mary's College, London University). They found the enthusiasm of the academics infectious, and have a clearer understanding of the kind of world that these figures now operate in.

Find out more about studying History at Alton College here