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HIS1100 : Evidence and Argument (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Robert Dale
  • Lecturer: Dr Annie Tindley
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Evidence and Argument is designed to prepare students for independent study at undergraduate level, and to introduce the basic skills of the historian’s craft to the student in a lively and accessible way. It will introduce students to what undergraduate level study and historical research entails and equip them with the skills to make the transition from school/college education to independent learning. The module seeks to achieve this in two ways.

First, the module is delivered through a lecture series which explains to students how to best approach their degree, whilst developing foundational skills in reading, research, arguing, referencing and writing that are intended to underpin their future intellectual development. By the end of the module, then, students will understand what the basic expectations upon undergraduate students are, what the fundamental disciplinary standards are, and have practiced applying those skills within the context of a particular historiographical debate.

Second, the module will foster and develop these key historical and study skills through the detailed study of a specific historical and historiographical debate, closely related to the field of research expertise of the individual seminar tutor. The seminars will introduce students to small-group teaching in the context of a particular debate. Students will be given an introduction to the topic or theme by their seminar leader, and will then be guided through the development of the historical scholarship in that field over the course of the semester. In so doing students will learn how to read and analyse a key chapter and debate in the historiography and explore its role in establishing a historical debate. In subsequent weeks they will be introduced to, or asked to find, other journal articles, essays from edited volumes and monographs (books) that deal with the same topic, but which disagree with the initial article, approaches the topic from a different perspective, or advances the debate in other ways. Over the course of the semester students will learn how historical debates develop and arguments operate. Students will learn the differences between different forms of historical writing (books, articles, chapters), and how to find, use and reference them for their own purposes. These are understandings and skills that are central to the discipline of history, and that you will need to apply in all the rest of your history modules throughout your university career.

By the end of the module you will therefore have built up a detailed understanding of one particular historical debate, but you will also have some understanding of how historical arguments and debates operate and of the skills involved in reading, analysing and commenting on a range of secondary sources. You should understand the differences between these types of source, and how to find, use and reference them for the purposes of your own research. These are understandings and skills that are central to the discipline of history, and that you will need to apply in all the rest of your history modules throughout your university career.

This module aims:
•       To develop the various research, reading, and writing skills required during a university career.
•       To introduce students to how lectures and small-group seminars operate.
•       To introduce students to a range of historical writing – including journal articles, monographs and essays from edited volumes – and to guide them in the reading and analysis of secondary sources.
•       To demonstrate the ways in which historical argument and debate operate within a specific historical context, but also more generally.
•       To develop technical skills in when, where and how referencing is required.

Outline Of Syllabus

Module topics covered may include the following:

Lecture Series (12 x one-hour lecture)
1.       Introduction to the module and its approach, and meet your tutor
2.       How to read as an undergraduate – Methods of reading, why and how to read for undergraduate purposes, reading for argument.
3.       Different types of historical writing, and how to recognise them. Monographs, Journal Article, Chapter in Edited Collections, Book Reviews. How to spot quality. University level texts. Reference works. Beware of the Web.
4.       Taking Effective Notes – What, how, and why do I need to take notes.
5.       What is a footnote, when and why do we reference? [Grafton – The Footnote. How footnotes played an important part in the evolution of history as a discipline, and its centrality to the historical method]
6.       Having an Argument [The importance of building and defending an intellectual position via evidence.]
7.       Evidence and its Limitations – [Beyond Bias, critiquing evidence and scholarship]
8.       Writing your first essay – How to set about writing your first essay? The process and challenges of writing
9.       To quote or not to quote - that is the question? [Explain when and why quote. How to integrate quotes into your sentence. When to paraphrase]
10.       Learning from your feedback – What is feedback? How do we provide it? What does it mean?
11.       What skills do historians have, and how to market them for employability (careers)
12.       Conclusions - Developing the Historical Mind (What we have learnt and why it matters for the degree).

Seminar Series (8 x two-hour seminars)
Seminars will follow the particular pathway dictated by the research-led specialism of seminar leaders, but the intention is that all groups will follow a similar approach, exploring how a particular historiography has developed, while meanwhile reinforcing the skills-based approach in the lectures. The expectations is that approximately half of the seminar will be dedicated to the content of the particular topic, and half to explicitly developing skills. Seminars might broadly follow the following schema:
1.       Introduction - background on the topic
2.       Key Articles communicating an orthodox position
3.       Counter-posing arguments in response
4.       Alternative approaches
5.       Revisionist approaches
6.       New approaches in Monographs
7.       New theoretical approaches
8.       Summary of the debate

Essay Writing Surgeries (Drop in Two x two-hour drop in sessions)

Skills Workshops (Two x two-hour skills workshops)
1.       Writing Skills Workshop
2.       Digital Skills for Historians Workshop

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion731:0073:0045 % of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading731:0073:0045 % of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Writing and Digital Skills Workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Essay drop in surgeries
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study181:0018:0010 % of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As a Stage 1 module, aside from an in-depth understanding of the content of the module, the teaching methods, which focus on small group work, presentational and oral skills, team work, lecture delivery and independent research and writing, relate to the core learning outcomes of supporting students in developing sophisticated research skills across a wide range of sources, being able to synthesise the information they collect and form convincing and coherent arguments.

SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

LECTURES enable students to gain a wider sense of historical argument and debate and how such debates operate, which also allows them to develop comparisons between different historiographical debates.

WORKSHOPS: Workshops will focus on the key practical skills associated with the study of History, including: note-taking, academic reading, summarising, writing bibliographies, essay planning and writing, document analysis.

SURGERY TIME: Staff will make themselves available in their offices for four hours over the course of the module to see students individually on issues concerning them, although we expect this will focus on preparation for assessments.

Independent learning is essential to this module: students are expected to develop skills of critical reading, note-taking, and historical argumentation in an independent and effective manner. Seminar teaching complements these skills by allowing students the opportunity to share and debate information gathered independently. Oral skills of argument and presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis and problem solving.

Small group teaching will allow the students to explore ideas and patterns together in a structured way, and great emphasis will be placed on primary sources and their interpretation.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M10500 words, Summary of argument of scholarly article
Computer assessment1M15Exercise in referencing- Blended learning exercise online
Report1M251000 words Book Review
Essay1A502000-word essay, Historiographical Essay/Literature Review
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module (1) supports and assesses student progression to university and (2) endeavours to support their skills development, including academic and employability.

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 Coordinator and their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them. The Study Abroad Coordinator will have the final say on such issues.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange 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.

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.

Reading Lists