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HIS1105 : What is History For?

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Morton
  • Lecturer: Miss Leanne Smith, Dr Nicola Clarke, Miss Hannah Reeve, Dr Katie East
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion651:0065:00To complete 3 assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading113:0033:003 hours reading per week.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:001 seminar per week (except first week)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities92:0018:00Two hours preparation task for the weekly seminar
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 2022-23 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

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation51M40Students will deliver individual presentations of 7 minutes in length
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1A30Portfolio of 400 word article summaries; 1,250 words in total.
Portfolio1A30Portfolio of 400 word article summaries; 1,250 words in total.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written Examination1M1 x 400 portfolio. Students will receive feedback on 1 article summary. This is to help them prepare for the summative assessments.
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.

Assessment is intended to develop two core skills in History students – written and oral analysis and persuasion – at Stage 1. The portfolio 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. 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.

Reading Lists