Making History: Theory and Practice - HI426

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
4 30 (15) PROF GL Johnson







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. This will be achieved through four blocks of seminars and lectures.

These will cover:
  • The practice of history, introducing history at university level at both a practical and conceptual level.
  • Historical methodology. This will cover the development of university history in the nineteenth century and how this differed from the study and writing of history that had gone before. It will also consider the impact of the Social Sciences on the historical profession during the twentieth century.
  • The varieties of history. This will examine some of the major themes and approaches, such as Marxism or nationalism, in modern historical scholarship.
  • Beyond history. The final block will consider the ‘linguistic turn’ and new ways of studying and writing history in the twenty-first century.

  • A fifth component, concentrated in the first three or four weeks of the module, will provide training in core, practical skills (library and bibliographic skills, IT skills and the use of MyFolio and PDP).


    This module appears in:

    Method of assessment

    Making History is taught by students’ personal Academic Advisers in tutorial groups, helping towards building meaningful relationships between Academic Advisers and their advisees.

    Assessment will be 100% coursework-based, in the form of a portfolio of completed assignments. The various assignments will include:
    • a library exercise (10%) - locating a range of different resources in order to solve a particular bibliographic problem;
    • a critical review of an article or book chapter (30%);
    • a group presentation (20%) - outlining a historiographical argument and demonstrating an understanding of debates between historians and the development of historiographical interpretations;
    • a 2,000 word essay (40%).

    Preliminary reading

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

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

    Learning outcomes

    Making History is designed to:
    • introduce students to the study of history at university level and lay the conceptual, practical and intellectual foundations that they will build upon during the remainder of their degree
    • exposure students to a wide variety of historical methods, schools and genres 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
    • use a variety of teaching styles and expose students to to a range of different historical sources (both primary and secondary) topromote critical thinking and analytical awareness
    • run several lectures and seminars designed to draw attention to history’s connection to other disciplines within the Humanities and Social Sciences
    The module is also designed to:
    • develop in students a number of transferable skills and general academic disciplines necessary for study at degree level. Seminar teaching and sessions hosted by the library and SLAS introduce students to the presentation of work with the proper scholarly apparatus).
    • Study skills sessions, including the use of library catalogues, online journals, and other web-based resources will increase students’ competence in IT.

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