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Study information

Approaches to History

Module titleApproaches to History
Module codeHIH1401
Academic year2022/3
Module staff


Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

How do historians write history?  How do approaches vary and what questions can historians ask? This module introduces and explores key issues and concepts discussed in the study of history across many periods, including power, gender, wealth and poverty, religion and class. It will thus introduce you to the working practices and interests of the academic staff and to the variety of possible approaches to history that you can explore in the rest of your degree programme.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

• Explore a variety of approaches to history
• Investigate some of the overarching issues encountered and concepts used by historians.
• Encourage you to make comparisons across time and geography.

Lectures will be given by different members of staff each week to demonstrate the variety of approaches to history. Seminars will encourage you to explore these issues in more depth through reading and discussing individual articles and through researching and presenting particular topics to your group.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Present work in the format expected of historians, with accurate footnoting and bibliographic references
  • 2. Be aware of some of the recurring themes of history such as class, gender, ethnicity, religion and war
  • 3. Recognise the variety of approaches taken to historical study
  • 4. Describe at a basic level the philosophical problems confronting historians (the difference between history and the past, the difficulties of total objectivity, the value of debate, the uses of history)

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Comprehend how to undertake the accurate referencing of sources in written work
  • 6. Draw thematic comparisons between material from different sources
  • 7. Demonstrate an awareness of contrasting approaches to research, an understanding of the difference between qualitative and quantitative data, and an awareness of some of the basic philosophical questions arising from the study of history

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Demonstrate critical skills and communications skills (written and oral)
  • 9. Work both independently and in a group, including the presentation and discussion of material in groups
  • 10. Digest, select and organize material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument developed through the mode of assessment

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Lectures will introduce key historical themes and concepts such as power, archives, identities, gender, beliefs and ideas, emotions, the body, micro and macro histories and periodization.
  • Seminars will give the students an opportunity to research and discuss some of these themes in more depth. The seminars also include a book review workshop to prepare students for this part of the assessment.

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 teaching1111 x 1-hour lectures exploring concepts such as archives, gender and power
Scheduled learning and teaching147 x 2-hour seminars exploring particular articles and concepts in more depth
Guided independent study125Preparation of work for seminars, presentations, book review and seen examination

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through module2-4, 6-10Oral or written from tutor and other students

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
Group Presentation and Participation [comprising: group presentation (16%) and attending all seminars in which presentations take place (4%)] 2020 minutes (for 4 students or 5 minutes per student if group sizes are different) 1-4, 7-11Oral and written
Book Review401000 words1-5, 7-11Written
Assignment401000 words1-4, 6-11Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group Presentation and participationScript as for individual part of presentation, equivalent to 5 minutes (16%) and one page review of another presentation (4%).1-4, 7-11Referral/Deferral period
Book ReviewBook Review 1000 words1-5, 7-11Referral/Deferral period
Assignment (1000 words)Assignment (1000 words)1-4, 6-11Referral/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

Basic reading:

  • Claus, Peter, and John Marriott, History: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2012).
  • Jordanova, Ludmilla, History in Practice, 2nd ed. (London: Hodder Arnold, 2006).
  • Rublack, Ulinka, ed., A Concise Companion to History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)Tosh, John, The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions of Modern History (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2006).
  • Tosh, John, The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions of Modern History (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2006).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Approaches, concepts

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date