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Study information

Public History Project

Module titlePublic History Project
Module codeHIC2200
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Alyson Mercer (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The Public History Project module enables you to work on a history research project that will contribute to public understanding of the past. It develops skills in independent research, the writing and presentation of history and on working collaboratively as part of a small team. The module provides employability skills in working in the heritage sector, alongside practical experience of conducting a research project. Numbers are limited by the availability of external projects.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The Public History Project builds on the theory and practical experience gained in HIC1200 Public History in stage 1. It is an optional module in which you have the opportunity to work with sponsors from the museum and heritage sectors on commissioned research projects that develop both archival research capabilities and presentation skills for the public sphere.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Write a project brief
  • 2. Apply the principles of object-led interpretation
  • 3. Identify copyright and/or ethical issues
  • 4. Create visual and written presentations for diverse audiences
  • 5. Critically evaluate the practice of public history

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Competent use of archives, libraries and electronic databases
  • 7. Capacity to analyse historical evidence
  • 8. Palaeography

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Self-discipline and time management
  • 10. Effective oral and written communication
  • 11. The capacity to exercise initiative and demonstrate flexibility
  • 12. Ability to work collaboratively

Syllabus plan

The module will consist of university-based two-hour seminars every fortnight (sometimes presented on a team tutorial basis), with required reading and/or preparation, and regular meetings with the public history sponsors to assess progress and adapt projects as required.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching18Seminars and tutorials: A combination of tutorials, lectures and seminars to support the research project
Guided independent study182Independent study: Readings on theoretical perspectives in public history and support for project placement
Project placement 100Conduct a specific research project with an agreed sponsor

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project brief 800 words 1-3, 6, 12Oral, written
Seminar presentation10 mins presenting plus 5 mins Q&A1-4, 6-9, 12Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Public seminar presentation3015 minutes presenting plus 5 mins Q&A1-4, 6-9, 12Written, oral
Critical essay 703000 words5-7, 10-11Written, oral

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar presentationPresentation notes (1500 words) and visual materials1-4, 6-9, 12Referral/deferral period
Critical essayCritical essay5-7, 10-11Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Ashton, Paul and Hilda Kean, eds, People and their Pasts (Palgrave, 2009).
  • Black, Graham, The Engaging Museum (Routledge, 2005)
  • Cohen, Daniel J. and Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History: a guide to gathering, preserving, and presenting the past on the Web (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006)
  • Corsane, Gerard, ed., Heritage, Museums and Galleries (Routledge, 2005)
  • Dobson, Miriam and Benjamin Ziemann, eds, Reading primary sources: the interpretation of texts from nineteenth- and twentieth-century history (London, 2008).
  • Dudley, Susan, ed. Museum Materialities (Routledge, 2009) Hooper-Greenhill, E. Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture (Routledge, 2000)
  • Knell, Simon J., Museums in the Material World (Routledge, 2007)
  • Lord, Barry and Gail Dexter Lord, The Manual of Museum Exhibitions (Altamira, 2002)
  • Pearce, Susan M. ed., Interpreting Objects and Collections (Routledge, 1994).
  • Woodward, Ian, Understanding Material Culture (Sage, 2007)
  • Yow, Valerie, Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2nd ed (Altamira Press, 2005).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Cornwall Record Office
  • Bartlett Library
  • Courtney Library
  • Cornish Studies Library
  • National Maritime Museum Library
  • Cornwall Family History Society
  • Cornish Audio Visual Archive

Key words search

Public history, research

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

HIC1200, Public History 1

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date