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HIS8124 : Digital Histories: People, Place, Power

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Louise Rayne
  • Lecturer: Professor Graham 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


This module will contextualise how digital histories including new and emerging technologies can be applied to and communicate the past. It will explore the meaning of place in the digital age, by engaging with historical and digital mapping as well as the emerging use of AR and VR to recreate past places and document public history. Students will be introduced to the spatial turn in history, and will explore the history of maps and mapping, basic digital mapping skills, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and VR/AR interfaces, as well as key digital skills such as online writing.

By the end of the course, students will understand the possibilities of these tools rather than being ‘expert’ in their use. In common with other modules in this programme, students will be encouraged to consider the power dynamics and ethical considerations of these processes.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will follow a weekly pattern, alternating between theory and practice. Students will engage in interactive, practice-based workshops that will introduce them to a range of digital skills. This approach is designed to help students to make the links between theory and practice.

Topics include:

Interpretation of space and place (including an introduction to GPS)

Images and place (the life of places and sites beyond their physical presence through digital images)

Historicising maps, their cultural specificity and power

Satellite imagery, its history and ethical challenges

Heritage frameworks

Using digitised maps and mapping software (eg ordnance survey historical map archive, Google Earth)

Digital interactive mapping and crowd mapping

Introduction to basic GIS.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence

Uses Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to encourage engagement with history and heritage

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion531:0053:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading461:0046:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching52:0010:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities72:0014:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyProject work62:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork14:004:00Planned for in-person but digital alternatives will be available.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study481:0048:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time11:001:00Module Talk
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is designed using a flipped classroom pedagogy. Structured research and reading activities will introduce students to topics, ideas and skills which will be explored during weekly small group teaching and computer-based practical workshops. Alternating between practical session and more theory-focussed sessions will give students the opportunity to develop new skills while making the link between theory and practice.
Self-guided fieldwork will give students the opportunity to develop their skills independently.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1A50Practical fortnightly exercises plus 1000 words explanatory material.
Essay1M502000 words
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
Design/Creative proj1M5 min group presentation.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assignment weighting is designed to indicate to students the importance of making the connection between theory and practice. Each week students will be set a short task that will build towards the final portfolio which will be presented via an online platform. The aim is to ensure graduates are aware of what is possible for digital projects, rather than to provide them with the skills to undertake detailed digital projects.

The formative assessment will build skills towards the final portfolio.

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.

Reading Lists