Module Catalogue 2023/24

HIS2304 : Crafting History: The Dissertation Proposal

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Fergus Campbell
  • Lecturer: Dr Lauren Darwin, Professor Bruce Baker, Dr Ellie Armon Azoulay
  • 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



•       To help students learn how to formulate research questions.
•       To help students practice selecting and analysing a group of primary sources focused on one research question/project.
•       To help students develop skills in designing, planning and executing an extended piece of independent work.
•       To provide opportunities to discuss their research plans with an advisor.

This module serves as the major transition point between Stages 1 and 2, in which the student has developed specific skills about historiography and primary sources in focused ways, and Stage 3, where the dissertation is central. As such, this module is devoted to generating a fully-fledged dissertation proposal that is intellectually purposeful and logistically viable. It will articulate a working thesis that intervenes in a scholarly conversation and does so with a focused look at diverse primary source sets.

Outline Of Syllabus

The first half of the module will be devoted to training in research skills, and guidance on tackling specific historical topics as a researcher; in the second half, the emphasis will be upon students putting those skills into practice by developing and completing an independent research assignment. As such, the bulk of the contact time will be placed earlier in the semester, with surgery hours available later in the semester to allow students to consult with staff one-to-one about their projects. More module time is also given over to Guided Independent Study, to reflect the more independent nature of the assessment.

Topics covered may include:

--acquiring primary sources
--distilling historiography
--finding your voice (adding to the conversation)
--outlining (not planning)
--the architecture of arguments.
--the proofing eye: learning to line-edit

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

This module will permit students to begin mastering a particular research topic by having them explore the relevant literature. It will also require them to investigate primary source repositories and reflect on the knowledge embedded in those primary sources. Most crucially, the module requires a fusion of both these elements, adapting their thinking to the ongoing research process, and producing a high-quality project roadmap for the third-year dissertation.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module, students will have been guided and tested in the following:

--work-planning and project management
--literature searching and comprehension
--research skills and data management

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion771:0077:00Guided Independent Study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Skills lecture
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Lecture materials on research areas by potential supervisors. Counts towards contact hours.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Introductory module talk
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading451:0045:00Guided Independent Study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Drop in for assessment support
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study451:0045:00Guided Independent Study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching on the module will will be balanced between providing specialised opportunities for students to investigate research topics (with individual lecturers giving overviews of the resources available for their fields), and workshops for guided instruction on the skills necessary to craft the best proposal that will form their assessment.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal2A802000 words (including footnotes but not bibliography)
Written exercise2M20Annotated bibliography, 1500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MSource commentary, 500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formative assessment will be a 500-word source commentary. This will build on skills gained in HIS1101 and help the students to elucidate the deeper meanings of primary sources in their chosen thematic/chronological area.

Students will submit a 1500 word annotated bibliography. This will extend the work first modelled in HIS2316, providing the student a chance to select a viable dissertation topic, begin sketching out the intellectual and logistical context necessary to complete it, and permit staff intervention at an earlier stage to facilitate better planning.

The final summative assessment will be a research proposal. We are requiring an extensively detailed outline that will allow you to think through your evidence and your argument before having to polish that analysis in clear prose. By giving students the time and scaffolding to complete a dissertation proposal in Stage 2, this will set the foundation for success in the dissertation overall.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 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 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.