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HIS3000 : Reading History

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Luc Racaut
  • Demonstrator: Professor Violetta Hionidou, Dr Konstantina Maragkou
  • Lecturer: Dr Nicola Clarke, Dr Katie East, Dr Timothy Somers, Ms Anne Redgate, Professor Tim Kirk
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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, 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

-: purchase of selected text and reading of same.
-: discussions of topics that will vary from book to book, but which will begin and end with sessions dealing with: what does the book say and do? 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

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00Assessment preparation
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials181:0018:00A combination of recorded lecture sessions and guided exercises engaging with sources
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading501:0050:00set, recommended and further reading
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities92:0018:00Individual and group reading and research exercises in preparation for small group teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Synchronous online seminars that need to be timetabled (12 groups)
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion92:0018:00Weekly discussion board activities for each topic
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery91:009:00Synchronous online support for assessment
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study281:0028:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The structured guided learning hours will combine short (c.20 mins) pre-recorded lecture sessions explaining key context, concepts and historiographical issues with document-based exercises intended to reinforce understanding through direct engagement with the sources discussed. These hours will be supported by discussion boards for each topic on the VLE. These activities will inform the structured research and reading activities, which will allow students to use the knowledge acquired through the learning materials to produce their own responses and ideas to the material. These ideas will then be presented and discussed in small group teaching, encourageing independent learning, discussion, and debate, while also guiding students on how to approach primary sources and historiography in a critical and effective manner.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M201500 words
Essay1M803000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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

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

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree unless they have compelling reasons not to do so. If this is the case, they are offered the alternative of writing one 3,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all assessment work required of other students on the module. In order to take up this option, students need to discuss it with the Study Abroad Co-ordinator and their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them. The Study Abroad Co-ordinator will have the final say on such issues.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will require the provision of an alternative assessment before the end of teaching week 12. The alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 1,500 word essays in addition to the other coursework assessment. The essays should be set so as to assure full coverage of the course content.

Study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists