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HIS3000 : Reading History

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Benjamin Houston
  • Lecturer: Professor Susan-Mary Grant, Professor Matt Perry, Dr Luc Racaut, Professor Bruce Baker, Dr Nicola Clarke, Dr Darakhshan Khan
  • 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 represents one of the capstones of the Newcastle history degree programme. Constructed around the study of a single seminal secondary text, it is designed to enable students to explore the themes, evidence, approach, argument, literary merit and methodology of said text within the broader context of the historiography within which it is positioned and the intellectual skills acquired at Stages 1 and 2 of the Newcastle degree programme, and to employ these in a genuinely independent and intellectually robust way as preparation both for the writing of a dissertation (the 'Writing History' module) if appropriate and for the challenges of the world beyond academia.

This module aims:

1.To encourage in students the habit of considering new arguments and evidence, not within the confines of a particular module's subject matter but in the light of all the historical knowledge that they already possess.

2.To enable students to relate particular areas of historical knowledge to:
i.Other areas of knowledge and issues arising from different modules taken during the three years of their Honours Programme
ii.General historical knowledge other than that acquired through taught modules (e.g. by private reading, from television etc)
iii.Ethical, cultural and political issues and debates

3.To provide an opportunity of investigating in some depth selected problems, including the appraisal of selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography.

4.To provide an opportunity for students to read more widely and critically and to do so independently.

Outline Of Syllabus

Discussions of topics will vary from book to book, but will begin and end with sessions dealing with what the book says and does, and summing up. In between, the seminars will address some combination of: historiography, methodology, theoretical approach(es), concepts (conceived or developed in the book in question), connections/relevance/usefulness to World History, and opportunities for comparison with other examples from different periods of world regions, or with other historical works. The module is intended to have something of a synoptic character, so at all points students are encouraged to draw comparative or related examples from all the modules they have studied to date, as well as from other sources of information (the media, literature, etc).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00Assessment preparation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading601:0060:00Required and recommended reading for seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching103:0030:00Seminars; students remain with same member of staff through the semester
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Support for assessments
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study571:0057:00Wider reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Directed and structured research and reading activities are designed to help students prepare effectively for the small group teaching, and to develop their own responses to and ideas about the book under examination. Seminar leaders will also develop structured non-synchronous online activities to support student learning as appropriate to the topic and the week; these may include (but aren't limited to) message boards, quizzes, group work, student presentations, and lecture materials. The ideas and readings will then be presented and discussed in small group teaching, encouraging independent learning, discussion, and debate, while also guiding students on how to approach historiography in a critical and analytical way.

Online drop-in surgeries are designed to offer students the chance to ask targeted questions about their assessments, and receive guidance and feedback.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M25Book Review of 1000 words in length. This should not be a review of the core text itself, but of a suitable companion text, of reasonable length.
Essay1A752500 words 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 exercise1MEssay plan of 500 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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

2. Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress, student understanding and development of critical skills.

3. Formative work gives students an opportunity to develop reading, writing and research skills in preparation for the second summative assessment.

4. The final written assignment provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have reflected on all they have learned during their undergraduate studies and can bring that learning to bear in considering new and challenging ideas.

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