Skip to main content


HIS3020 : Writing History

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jen Kain
  • Lecturer: Dr Vicky Long, Professor Bruce Baker, Dr Nicola Clarke, Dr Jack Hepworth, Dr Martin Farr, Professor Daniel Siemens, Dr Luc Racaut, Dr Willow Berridge, Dr Clare Hickman, Dr Philip Garrett, Dr Christina Mobley, Dr Sarah Campbell, Dr Robert Dale, Dr Shane McCorristine, Professor Rachel Hammersley, Ms Anne Redgate, Professor Susan-Mary Grant, Dr Lauren Darwin, Professor Violetta Hionidou
  • 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
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0
European Credit Transfer System


Writing History is History’s final-year capstone module, providing students with the opportunity to identify a research topic that interests them and to carry out independent primary research on this subject, resulting in the writing of a 10,000 word dissertation. Students are encouraged to choose their own topic, taking advantage of our very wide variety of research expertise and supervision.

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to undertake sustained and original
investigation of a selected topic including:

1.the identification and definition of the topic and of an appropriate body of primary (but not
necessarily original or unpublished) and secondary sources;
2.the critical and constructive use of those sources;
3.the presentation of the results in scholarly form; and
4.the development of associated skills in research and writing.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will receive guidance in choosing a topic, researching and writing a dissertation. They will attend a series of plenary lectures which will include guidance on library resources, archives, and writing. In addition, each student will be allocated a supervisor who will support their individual research and writing of the dissertation. Guidance from supervisors will be delivered through a mixture of one-to-one tutorials and seminars attended by a group of students with the same supervisor. Students will be expected to submit a draft bibliography and a research proposal during semester one, and will receive feedback on these. In semester two they will submit an extract from the planned dissertation (maximum 25% of the final length), for formative feedback. The syllabus culminates in the submission of the final dissertation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture71:007:00Lectures - please see rationale for details.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1194:00194:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading781:0078:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1113:00113:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision81:008:00To be arranged by individual supervisors
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Semester 1: Three Lectures: Introduction by the Module Leader; Primary Source Availability; Special Collections

Semester 2: Four Lectures: Writing Skills 1 ; Careers and New Steps ; Writing Skills 2 ; Preparing to Submit

The academic skills activities impart core information and explain the skills that students are expected to acquire and use.

Dissertation supervision will allow supervisors to provide students with guidance for directed activity – for instance, how to identify appropriate research material, how to analyse it once identified and how to write the conclusions of the research in the form of a dissertation. Dissertation supervision when in the form of small group work will provide opportunities for students to share insights and seek group responses to issues arising from students' independent research, and also promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability. Dissertation supervision will also take the form of 1:1 meetings to allow specific discussion and clarification of individual research topic(s).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2A10010,000 word dissertation
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 exercise2M2,500 word dissertation extract, deadline to be set by each supervisor
Research proposal1M2000 research proposal to be submitted to supervisor for feedback
Research proposal1A2000 word finalised research proposal if requested by supervisor
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The completion of an 'apprentice piece' is the traditional and irrefutable practical demonstration that the skills of any craft – in this case, the historian’s craft – have been mastered. The finished dissertation necessarily incorporates each stage of historical research – conceptualising and defining the problem in the context of current knowledge and historiography, identifying and locating appropriate sources, reading them with the technical competence, critical understanding and insight necessary to establish what can be learned from them, and presenting the results in clear, coherent, cogent and attractive form. It therefore not only has scholarly value in its own right, but provides a comprehensive test and display of the skills, strengths and limitations of its author.

The formative assessments allow for supervisory feedback on a) the draft dissertation proposal, b) if deemed necessary a finalised dissertation proposal and c) a section (2,500 words max) of the draft dissertation.

The student will have completed a dissertation of 10,000 words on a subject of his or her own choice, based on primary and secondary sources, which defines the project clearly, establishes its interest and importance in relation to the current state of knowledge, and provides a coherent and well constructed account based on critical and creative use of the appropriate primary sources, taking account of the relevant secondary literature, and with full scholarly apparatus. It will be written in clear and correct English and carefully and attractively presented, and may be illustrated. In many cases it will be capable of further development, for example as a MA, M Litt or Ph D dissertation, and may include preliminary indications of how such development should be conducted; ideally it might be publishable. The content of the dissertation is dependent on the topic chosen.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress and assuring standards.

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

This module cannot be made available to exchange students under any circumstances. This applies to Erasmus, study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students equally.

Reading Lists