Making History: Theory and Practice - HI426

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring 4 30 (15) PROF G Johnson checkmark-circle


This module has two aims: 1) to contribute towards equipping the students with the necessary practical and intellectual skills for them to think and write as historians at an undergraduate level; 2) to encourage them to think reflectively and critically about the nature of the historical discipline, its epistemological claims, and why we, as historians, do what we do in the way we do it.

It will focus on the process of 'getting used to' undergraduate history; the difference between university life from school/college. These sessions are reinforced with in-house study skills sessions. This will be reinforced through the seminar teaching in the remainder of the module.

The module identifies and explores three main areas of history, asking: what is medieval history; what is early modern history; what is modern history? Students will also explore different central historical themes and approaches in historical scholarship, such as Marxism or nationalism, thereby introducing them to history at university level at both a practical and conceptual level. This will cover the development of university history in the broad sweep of history from approximately the twelfth century to the late twentieth century. It will also consider the impact of the Social Sciences on the historical profession during the twentieth century.

The seminars will reinforce these sessions through discussion of selected readings on relevant topics. Students will also study how to use and analyse a primary source and a variety of historical methodologies.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

This module will be taught through one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week, with the exception of Enhancement Weeks and one week per term that will be dedicated to coursework feedback. There will also be a number of lectures focusing on study skills throughout the two terms.

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

Plagiarism exercise - 5%
Library Exercise - 5%
Source Analysis 1 - 20%
Source Analysis 2 - 20
Group conference presentation - 10%
Essay (2,000 words) - 40%

Indicative reading

Stefan Berger et al (eds), Writing History: Theory and Practice, 2nd edn (Hodder Education, London, 2010)
Anna Green and Kathleen Troup (eds), The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1999)
George. G. Iggers and Q. Edward Wang, A Global History of Modern Historiography (Routledge, London, 2008)
Bonnie Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women and Historical Practice (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1998)
Garthine Walker (ed.), Writing Early Modern History (Bloomsbury, London, 2005)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Demonstrate the ability to undertake research with the aim of addressing a particular question, or problem, relating to a variety of historiographical approaches.
- Demonstrate the ability to communicate their analysis of historical sources accurately and appropriately, using coherent and well-structured arguments, and utilising historical methodologies and approaches.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the conceptual, practical and intellectual principles in the discipline of history that they will build upon during the remainder of their degree.
- Use and understand a wide variety of historical methods, schools and genres that will increase their understanding of the discipline and the historian's relation to it, as well as giving some epistemological awareness of the different types of historical knowledge.
- Identify and use a range of historical sources (both primary and secondary) to help promote critical thinking and analytical awareness.

The intended subject specific learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Demonstrate a number of transferable skills and general academic disciplines necessary for study at degree level, including; general IT skills, communication skills, research skills.
- Demonstrate effective use of library catalogues, online journals, and other web-based resources.
- Work effectively in groups and to be able to produce short oral presentations that they can deliver to their fellow seminar group members.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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