Module Catalogue 2023/24

HIS3020 : Writing History

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jen Kain
  • Lecturer: Professor Rachel Hammersley, Dr Anton Caruana Galizia, Dr Sally Waite, Professor Matt Perry, Dr Fergus Campbell, Dr Scott Ashley, Dr Timothy Somers, Dr John Holton, Dr Robert Dale, Dr Luc Racaut, Dr Martin Farr, Professor Bruce Baker, Professor Annie Tindley, Dr Darakhshan Khan, Dr Lauren Darwin, Dr Felix Schulz, Dr Philip Garrett, Dr Willow Berridge, Dr Laura Tisdall, Dr Vicky Long, Dr Katie East, Dr Ellie Armon Azoulay, Dr Samiksha Sehrawat
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Writing History is History’s final-year capstone module, providing students with the opportunity to identify a research topic that interests them and to carry out independent primary research on this subject, resulting in the writing of a 10,000 word dissertation. Students are encouraged to choose their own topic, taking advantage of our very wide variety of research expertise and supervision.

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to undertake sustained and original
investigation of a selected topic including:

1.the identification and definition of the topic and of an appropriate body of primary (but not
necessarily original or unpublished) and secondary sources;
2.the critical and constructive use of those sources;
3.the presentation of the results in scholarly form; and
4.the development of associated skills in research and writing.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will receive guidance in choosing a topic, researching and writing a dissertation. They will attend a series of plenary lectures which will include guidance on library resources, archives, and writing. In addition, each student will be allocated a supervisor who will support their individual research and writing of the dissertation. Guidance from supervisors will be delivered through a mixture of one-to-one tutorials and seminars attended by a group of students with the same supervisor. Students will be expected to submit a draft bibliography and a research proposal during semester one, and will receive feedback on these. In semester two they will submit an extract from the planned dissertation (maximum 25% of the final length), for formative feedback. The syllabus culminates in the submission of the final dissertation.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of this module, the student will have gained a detailed knowledge of their chosen field of study, based on a thorough examination of primary and secondary sources. In addition, they will have learned how to locate their chosen field of study in a broader historical context and to identify their own contributions within wider historiographical perspectives. Finally, students who have completed this module will have assimilated presentation and writing skills which will have enabled them to produce a 10,000 word dissertation on their chosen topic.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The student will have developed associated skills in research, reading and critical reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of results.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1194:00194:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture71:007:00Lectures - please see rationale for details.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading781:0078:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1113:00113:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision81:008:00To be arranged by individual supervisors
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Semester 1: Lecture 1: Introduction by the Module Leader (JK); Lecture 2: Primary Source Availability (Louise Cowan, Library); Lecture 3: Special Collections (Alex Healy).

Semester 2: Lecture 4: Writing Skills 1 (Simon Young, Academic Skills); Lecture 5: Writing Skills 2 (Simon Young); Lecture 6: Formatting your Dissertation (JK and Louise Cowan); Lecture 7 (Careers).

The academic skills activities impart core information and explain the skills that students are expected to acquire and use.

Dissertation supervision will allow supervisors to provide students with guidance for directed activity – for instance, how to identify appropriate research material, how to analyse it once identified and how to write the conclusions of the research in the form of a dissertation. Dissertation supervision when in the form of small group work will provide opportunities for students to share insights and seek group responses to issues arising from students' independent research, and also promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability. Dissertation supervision will also take the form of 1:1 meetings to allow specific discussion and clarification of individual research topic(s).

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2A10010,000 word dissertation
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal2MFinal dissertation proposal.
Research proposal1MDissertation proposal of 2000 words or proposal previously submitted to HIS2304.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The completion of an 'apprentice piece' is the traditional and irrefutable practical demonstration that the skills of any craft – in this case, the historian’s craft – have been mastered. The finished dissertation necessarily incorporates each stage of historical research – conceptualising and defining the problem in the context of current knowledge and historiography, identifying and locating appropriate sources, reading them with the technical competence, critical understanding and insight necessary to establish what can be learned from them, and presenting the results in clear, coherent, cogent and attractive form. It therefore not only has scholarly value in its own right, but provides a comprehensive test and display of the skills, strengths and limitations of its author.

The student will have completed a dissertation of 10,000 words on a subject of his or her own choice, based on primary and secondary sources, which defines the project clearly, establishes its interest and importance in relation to the current state of knowledge, and provides a coherent and well constructed account based on critical and creative use of the appropriate primary sources, taking account of the relevant secondary literature, and with full scholarly apparatus. It will be written in clear and correct English and carefully and attractively presented, and may be illustrated. In many cases it will be capable of further development, for example as a MA, M Litt or Ph D dissertation, and may include preliminary indications of how such development should be conducted; ideally it might be publishable. The content of the dissertation is dependent on the topic chosen.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress and assuring standards.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

This module cannot be made available to exchange students under any circumstances. This applies to Erasmus, study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students equally.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

This module cannot be taken in conjunction with HIS3011 or HIS3012.

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.