Theory and Practice of History I (HISM169)

StaffDr Gajendra Singh - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Co-requisitesTheory and Practice of History II
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module is designed to prepare you for independent historical research and the MA dissertation, to involve you in the active research culture of Exeter's History Department, and to develop the skills needed to research, write and present as an historian. In weeks 1-5, students choose from a selection of seminars in the 'sources for historical research' series, each led by a specialist with relevant experience. The series highlights both practical and conceptual approaches to working with different types of source material, from official records and visual sources to oral testimony and the press. In the second half of the course, students begin to meet with their dissertation supervisors, in sessions which provide a link between the 'sources' seminars and the more detailed dissertation research proposal due at the end of the term. These sessions may contain a mix of methodological training and more focussed source criticism. An MA Student Conference in the latter part of the term provides an opportunity for students to discuss their research questions and initial approaches to their research project in a relaxed setting, and to receive feedback from students and staff alike. Alongside the formal module programme students are also encouraged to attend the many research seminars active in the department.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand the process of research
  • 2. Demonstrate understanding of historical methodologies.
  • 3. Evaluate and analyse complex historical evidence
  • 4. Gather historical evidence from documentary, archival and online sources

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Formulate a research project
  • 6. Find, verify and analyse diverse source materials
  • 7. Understand the conventions governing the presentation of historical research both in oral presentations and in writing.
  • 8. Critically analyse the ways in which other historians have approached a topic, and relate your own research to this.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Analyse critically and independently.
  • 10. Demonstrate oral presentation skills.
  • 11. Manage time and meet deadlines.

Syllabus plan

The module is based around preparation for the Dissertation.  This takes place in Term 2.  In Weeks 1-5, after an introductory session on formulating a research proposal, you will opt to take four (or more) of the 'Sources for Historical Research' seminars.  The content of these will vary depending on tutor availability but may include Official Records; Visual Sources and Performance; Oral Testimony; Local and Family Records; Colonial Archives; Pre-Modern Libraries and Texts; The Press; Personal Testimony.

In Weeks 6-11, you will meet with your allocated dissertation supervisor for discussion of methodological and source issues relating to the dissertation.  As you develop your dissertation proposal you will also have the opportunity to present your ideas at a student conference in Week 9 of the module.

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 teaching activities10Seminars in Weeks 1-5
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2Meetings with dissertation supervisors in Weeks 6-10
Scheduled learning and teaching activities5Student conference in Week 9
Guided Independent Study133Preparation of assignments and dissertation plan

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation10 minutes1-7, 9-11Verbal from staff and 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
Dissertation Research Proposal1004,000 words1,9,11Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Dissertation Research ProposalDissertation Research Proposal1,9,11

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Black, Jeremy & Donald M. MacRaild, Studying History (London: Macmillan, 2000)

Burke, Peter. Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008)

Howell, Martha, and Walter Prevenier, From Reliable Sources (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001)

Hudson, Pat. History by Numbers. An Introduction to Quantitative Approaches (London: Arnold, 2000).

Jordanova, Ludmilla. History in Practice, (London, Hodder Arnold, 2006; 2nd edn.)

McDowell, W. H. Historical Research, A Guide (London: Longman, 2002)

Perks, Robert and Alistair Thomson, The Oral History Reader, (London: Routledge, 2006; 2nd edn.)

Tosh, John. The Pursuit of History, (London: Longman, 2006; 4th edn.)

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Key words search

Theory, Historiography, Approaches, Sources, Research