Module Catalogue 2023/24

HIS1105 : What is History For?

HIS1105 : What is History For?

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Lauren Darwin
  • Lecturer: Dr Katie East, Dr Samiksha Sehrawat, Ms Elizabeth Schlappa, Dr Luc Racaut
  • Teaching Assistant: Miss Leanne Smith
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



This module has four aims:

1) to introduce students to the development of History as an academic discipline and different types of History (political,
global, social, cultural, gender, post-colonial, and so on);
2) to compare and contrast different approaches to, and uses of, historical writing in different periods and regions;
3) in doing so, to make them consider the role of power-relations and cultural context in shaping the types of historical
knowledge produced by a given culture;
4) and to challenge students to engage with on-going methodological problems and debates in the discipline.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered may include:

- Does History produce Truth?.
- “History” & “the Past”: What’s the Difference?
- Chronicle & Providence: Truth & the Divine in medieval historical writing.
- The Renaissance: History as moral truth.
- 19th Century History: Professionalization, Positivism and Colonialism?
- The Whig view of History.
- The Enlightenment: Reason, Disenchantment and their Legacies
- History, the nation state, and patriotism.
- Marxism & History.
- Peoples' History: History from Below.
- Subaltern Histories.
- Gender in History: From Her Story to beyond the binary.
- Cultural History: Mentalities, Beliefs & Attitudes
- History & Race
- Global History
- Post-modernism and the problem of Historical ‘truth’.
- Post-colonialism & History.
- Understanding ideology: Historians, language, and discourse.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should:
•       Understand what it means to describe History as a discipline
•       Be able to recognise and explain the major approaches to historical research
•       Understand the context for the development and use of these approaches
•       Be able to distinguish between substantive difference of interpretation, and weak or invalid arguments
•       Have a grounding in the history of History as a discipline;
•       Have a grounding in current debates in the discipline relating to historical truth;
•       Have been introduced to how historical knowledge was conceptualised in the past

Intended Skill Outcomes

This module, along with ‘Evidence & Argument’ and ‘Historical Sources & Methods’, is designed to develop, reinforce, and test the skills students need to study History at degree level, namely:
•       Effective note-taking, both in class and during guided independent study
•       Active learning: engaging with material beyond the lectures
•       Critical reading: use of knowledge and analytical tools to read for argument, not just content
•       Clear and sophisticated written communication
•       Critical self-reflection, based on awareness of the limitations of historical argument
•       Ability to work as part of a team
•       Ability to present arguments orally

In addition, the module is intended to give students a grounding in the intellectual background of the discipline, enabling them to:
•       Recognise underlying types/patterns of scholarly (and non-scholarly) argument, including in readings about unfamiliar topics.
•       Engage with these approaches, e.g. through critical analysis of evidence and reasoning.
•       Deploy appropriate approaches and/or types of analysis in their own assessments and guided independent study.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion651:0065:00To complete 3 assessments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading113:0033:003 hours reading per week.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities92:0018:00Two hours preparation task for the weekly seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:001 seminar per week (except first week)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Drop-in surgery hours to discuss module and assessment content
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study511:0051:00Independent Study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk12:002:00Introduction to the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

LECTURES impart core knowledge and an outline of knowledge that students are expected to acquire and they stimulate development of listening and note-taking skills. They explain historical concepts and set out historical debates and problems. They introduce a range of source material and set out and help to evaluate its historical context and worth. Listening and note taking are practiced in lectures. The lectures for 2023-24 will develop these same skills. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to present recorded materials asynchronously and retain timetabled slots for live discussion of these materials

SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability. The seminars on this module will be focused, helping stage 1 students to work through key texts, they will complement and develop skills in critical reading, note taking, analysis, and argument which students have developed. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to hold live seminar discussions online and retain timetabled slots

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M30Portfolio of article summaries- 1250 words
Portfolio1A30Portfolio of article summaries- 1250 words
Oral Presentation1M40Students will deliver individual presentations of 7 minutes in length.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1M1 x 400 portfolio.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

All of the assessments for this module will be submitted and marked online.

There is a formative assessment on this module. It is a 400 word written summary of an article. Students will receive feedback on 1 article summary. This is to help them prepare for the summative assessments.

Assessment is intended to develop two core skills in History students – written and oral analysis and persuasion – at Stage 1. The portfolios of writing will test student’s abilities in critical reading and analysis: they will produce short summaries and criticisms of key works in historiography over the course of the semester. This ensures that assessment covers the range of the entire module. Students will submit two portfolios to ensure there is an opportunity receive feedback and improve their skills throughout this module. This also limits assessment anxiety and makes the portfolio assessments more manageable for Stage 1 students. The presentation tests student’s abilities to a) present and critique complex material in a concise manner and b) to construct persuasive arguments.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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