Module Catalogue 2020/21

CAC8011 : The Writing of History

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Federico Santangelo
  • Demonstrator: Dr Rowland Smith
  • Lecturer: Dr Joseph Skinner
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module focuses on the writing of history in antiquity and beyond. In terms of the structure of the MA programme in Classics and Ancient History, this module serves as a signature research specialism for the ancient history pathway. Emphasis will be placed on the active development of research skills, in the first instance through dialogue around a carefully chosen series of sub-fields connected with the writing of history (to be based around the teaching staff’s own research specialisms), in which scholarly and theoretical approaches, new research directions, and evidentiary corpora will be foregrounded and subject to searching scrutiny.

It is also the aim of this module to foster the development of the students’ own research trajectories through including in the contact hours and in the assessment conspectus the delivery of a workshop-style oral research paper. All student papers will be hosted at an end-of-module colloquium (alongside its sister module, CAC8009: Performance and Text), and preparatory support will also be provided through briefings and individual supervisions. This oral paper will serve a formative function in turn, feeding into the other assessment component of the module, namely the written research-essay.

A major aim behind the conception and the design of the module is to promote a productive alignment between the module’s content and the active research culture of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, as represented particularly by the School-wide strategic research strand named ‘The Writing of History’. This will be achieved by two principal means: (i) teaching on the module will be research-led, i.e. drawn from the strand-affiliated teaching staff’s own research, including ongoing projects; and (ii) students themselves will contribute to the research culture of the School and the strand, through both the nature of the teaching activities (e.g. discussions of ongoing research) and the methods of assessment (in particular the research workshop at the culmination of the module).

Outline Of Syllabus

Typically, this module will be structured around major research case-studies relating to the writing of history, to be presented by teaching staff and discussed with students in a dialogic, seminar-style forum, before moving onto support for the students’ own oral research-papers, all of which will be delivered at an interactive colloquium at the end of the module. The breakdown of the 24 contact hours will thus typically take the following form:

1       Introduction and briefing for the module
2-5       Research case-study I
6-10       Research case-study II
11-15       Research case-study III
16       Briefing on oral research-paper
17-20       Supervisory sessions with individual faculty members
21-23       End-of-module colloquium: presentation of research-papers
24       Summary of feedback on the colloquium, plus briefing on research-essay

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. To acquire a substantial knowledge and understanding, as structured by the presentation and discussion of selected case-studies by both teaching staff and student peers, of original research undertaken in line with the thematic focus of the writing of history;
2. To gain a rounded and expansive familiarity with complex scholarly and theoretical apparatuses in the field of ancient history, and a knowledge of the ways in which these might be applied to self-chosen areas of historical study;
3. To obtain, under guidance but principally via independent work, an extensive, systematic understanding of a self-chosen field of research under the ambit of the writing of history, as a stepping-stone to the development of original interpretative positions in this field

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. To further expand critical abilities with respect to evaluation of scholarly ideas and interpretation of evidence;
2. To engage in respectful, productive dialogue with others’ research, both teaching staff and student peers, and so learn the importance of research-collaboration;
3. To develop, through structured briefings and supervisory sessions and then practical experience, competence in writing and delivering an oral research-paper;
4. To consolidate and expand competence with respect to the presentation of individual work in written form;
5. Overall, in contributing to and drawing benefit from the School’s research culture, to take ownership of a continuing, autonomous trajectory towards developing original research.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials63:0018:00Reading in preparation for a synchronous session
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1201:00120:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading441:0044:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching62:0012:00Research-based seminar teaching. 2 hours synchronous online alternating with 2 hours on campus
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Online Student presentations
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:00Online Supervision for presentations
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The learning outcomes, both knowledge and skills, for this module fundamentally underpin the teaching and learning methods employed.

Seminars will principally consist of teacher-introduced case-studies which will serve as the basis for discussion over several sessions. Reading will be assigned in advance and will inform this discussion. Ultimately, the aim is to open up a productive, two-way dialogue on original research relating to the writing of history. This type of learning activity aligns with knowledge outcomes 1 & 2, and skills outcomes 1, 2, & 5.

After coverage of major case-studies in seminar form, one-on-one supervisions will be introduced which aim to ensure that each student receives tailored, expert guidance on the forthcoming task of researching, writing, and delivering an oral research-paper. This activity aligns with knowledge outcome 3 and skills outcomes 2, 3, & 5.

After the supervisions have been completed, the extended workshop will be the site for the delivery and assessment of the oral research-papers, to be performed together in an end-of-module colloquium held in the style of an academic research workshop, with each speaker allocated twenty minutes for the paper plus ten minutes for audience-facing Q&A. This activity aligns with knowledge outcomes 2 & 3, and with skills outcomes 1, 2, 3, & 5.

The final seminar of the module provides a summary of feedback from the oral research-papers, which will serve as formative feedback ahead of the final assessment, a written research-essay, the nature of which will also receive a full briefing. This activity aligns with knowledge outcome 3 and skills outcome 4.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation202A35Oral research-paper followed by Q&A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M653,500-word research-essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment for this module has been designed in tandem with the learning outcomes and with the chosen teaching and learning activities.

The oral research-paper will be twenty minutes long, followed by ten minutes of Q&A. This assessment component aligns with knowledge outcomes 1, 2, & 3, and with skills outcomes 1, 3, & 5.

The written research-essay, 3,500 words long and due after the close of teaching for the semester, builds on the content introduced in the oral research-paper and is positioned so as to allow reflection on the formative feedback obtained from that task (both from the teaching staff and from student peers in the form of Q&A). This assessment component aligns with knowledge outcomes 1, 2, & 3, and with skills outcomes 1, 4, & 5.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.