Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Prof Tony Claydon
Overall aims and purpose
The past is complex and can be interpreted in different ways and different forms of historical evidence or understood differently which can lead to divergent interpretations. It is very easy to think of the past as something given, solid and fixed, which merely has to be researched to be understood. Disagreements between historians suggest, however, the past is open to debate, there are diverse views which give rise to controversies . There is even a sense in which people create different pasts as they describe and present history for different purposes.
This course has two main objectives. First, it aims to acquaint students with some of the ways in which the past has been constructed by historians and others; and to stimulate thought about how such various understandings of history might affect the way they view the past. Students will be challenged to wonder whether there is an objective, true’ past that we can recover; and whether professional historians come closer to describing areal’ past than politicians or popularisers.
Second, students will be expected to apply this enhanced level of understanding to the student's own research interests. This will form part of the initial prepatory work for the dissertation. Students will choose the topic they intend to study. They will then conduct a literature search and a literature review, specific to this chosen area of research. This will lead them into the actual dissertation.
The first part of the course is concerned with the use of the past made by historians and commentators such as politicians, the way traditions are invented (and destroyed), and introduces the different historiographical schools. It will look at various ideas about the study and writing of history which have developed over the last two centuries and which students need to understand in order to engage confidently with the different approaches which professional historians take to their work.
The second part will focus entirely on preparing for the dissertation. Students will be told about the structure and process behind the dissertation. They will choose a topic and will then discuss their ideas with a supervisor. Students will then conduct a literature search and a literature review, specific to this chosen area of research. These will be discussed with the supervisor.
Lectures 1-5 will cover key historiographical developments and the 6-10 may include the following topics:
- Broad introduction to the dissertation.
- Subject specific introduction to the dissertation.
- Discuss the topic with a supervisor.
- Do a literature search/bibliography and report back to the supervisor.
- Draft a literature review and discuss it with the supervisor. Agree on a timetable for the dissertation.
Good students (B- to B+) will demonstrate a solid level of achievement and depth of knowledge in all the criteria in the C- to C+ range, and will in addition exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical writing and historiographical controversies. Ideas will be communicated effectively and written work will include a good range of sources/reading and demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues and of the existing interpretations expressed in a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument. Students at the top end of this band will engage with and critique the ideas that they come across, and synthesise the various interpretations they find to reach their own considered conclusions. Written work will be correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate. will exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical writing and historiographical controversies. Ideas will be communicated effectively in both verbal and written forms. They will contribute frequently to discussion boards, making thoughtful and relevant points, and sometimes leading discussion. The literature review will be fairly comprehensive and reasonably analytic, indicating an awareness of the key issues and disputes between scholars. not only what historians have said. It would form the basis of a competent introduction to a dissertation on the topic.
Excellent students (A- and above) will show strong achievement across all the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis. In written work, they will support their arguments with a wealth of relevant detail/examples. They will also demonstrate an acute awareness of the relevant historiography and give an account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical debate. They may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, nuancing their argument in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, analysis and standards of presentation will be high. They will be enthusiastic and stimulating contributors to discussion boards, often changing the ways in which topics are being discussed with their originality. The literature review will be comprehensive and fully analytic, indicating not only what historians have said, but clearly identifying the core of the disputes between them, and suggesting ways in which further research or reconceptualisations may move discussion on in future. It would form the basis of an outstanding introduction to a dissertation on the topic.
C- to C+
Students in this band (C- to C+) will demonstrate a solid and satisfactory range of achievement or depth of knowledge of most parts of the module, and will make successful, if occasionally inconsistent, attempts to develop those skills appropriate to the study of History at undergraduate level. In the case of the written assessments, the answers will attempt to focus on the question, although might drift into narrative, and will show some evidence of solid reading and research. The argument might lose direction and might not be adequately clear at the bottom of this category. Written work will be presented reasonably well with only limited errors in grammar, punctuation, and referencing, and not to the extent that they obscure meaning. They will contribute to discussion boards reasonably fully, but their contributions may be a little derivative, with only limited evidence of individual insight or analysis. The literature review will be survey some relevant works, but there may be some obvious gaps, and it may not be fully analytic. It would form the basis of an adequate, but not strong, introduction to a dissertation on the topic.
Threshold students (D- and D) will have done only a minimum of reading, and their work will often be based partly on lecture notes and/or basic textbooks. They will demonstrate in their written assessments some knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies, but they will fail to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; and/or deploy only some relevant material but partly fail to combine it into a coherent whole; and/or deploy some evidence to support individual points but often fail to do so and/or show difficulty weighing evidence (thereby relying on unsuitable or irrelevant evidence when making a point). The work may lose focus and may have irrelevant or atypical evidence. Alternatively or additionally, the presentation of the work might also be poor, with bad grammar and/or punctuation, careless typos and spelling errors, and a lack of effective and correct referencing. They will contribute to discussion boards, but these contributions may be sporadic, or cursory. The literature review will discuss some works on the topic, but there may be obvious gaps, and the coverage will tend heavily to description of basic contents of works, rather than placing them within historiographic trends or disputes. There may be doubts if it could be developed into a satisfactory introduction to a dissertation on the topic.
An ability to evaluate the different ways in which the past may be understood, and of the extent to which it is a creation of later generations and subject to interpretation and controversy.
An ability to demonstrate an appreciation of the role of identity as a factor in our use of the past, and of the role of views of the past in political movements.
An abiity to demonstrate an understanding of the way in which the discipline of history has developed, especially in recent decades, and an awareness of some the various influential schools of historical thought.
An ability to present clear, cogent, evidence-supported and referenced arguments about aspects of the course in degree essay and in a literature search and review.
An ability to reflect critically on scholarly apparatus and the skills required to compile a critical bibliography and literature review and to present a summary of key historiographies in a concise form
Teaching and Learning Strategy
A series of online lectures will introduce students to the ways in which history has been constructed, historiographic trends over the last 100 years, and the roles history has played in constructing identities. The lectures should take about 10 hours to view in total - including periods of review and reflection.
Students will be expected to contribute to online discussion boards, expanding on the issues raised in the lectures. Over the course of the first half of the module, they will probably need to spend about five hours reading other people's contributions, formulating their own, and responding to the direction of the conversation.
Students will be introduced to the literature review with lectures on the nature of the third year dissertation (into which it feeds), the requirements of the literature review itself, and talks by period specialists outlining the sort of projects which might work.
Around 90 hours of private study will be required to read for a variety of topics to inform contributions to discussion boards, and choice of essay; to read for the essay, and write it.
Students will have a series of meetings with supervisors for their literature review: the exact timings will be as most useful for each project, but it is envisaged these will - including e-mail consultations - total about 2 hours of time.
Individual project. Students will research and write up a literature review on a topic of their choice under individual supervision. Choosing the topic, engaging in bibliographic searching, reading the literature, and writing a review is envisaged to take about 90 hours (reported as 89 to satisfy PiP requirements).
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
- understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
- being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
- being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
- producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
- planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
- marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
- making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
- making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
- appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
- critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
Resource implications for students
All basic reading will be in the library or can be accessed through inter-library loans. The students might want to purchase books relevant to their chosen topics, but this is optional.
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/hps-2055.html
Indicative general reading: full details in the student handbook: Black J., Macrail D., Studying History (2000). Bloch, Marc, The historians’ craft (1954). Burke, P., New perspectives on historical writing (1991). Burrow, J. W., A history of histories : epics, chronicles, romances and inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the twentieth century (2007) Cannadine, David, What is History now? (2002). Carr E.H. with a new introduction by Richard J. Evans What is history? (2001) Claus, Peter and John Marriott, History: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice (2012) [on order Sept 2014] Collingwood, R.G., The idea of history (1946, 1980) Dray,William., Perspectives on history (1980). Elton, G.R., The practice of history (1979). Ermath, Elizabeth Deeds, History in the Discursive Condition: Reconsidering the Tools of Thought (2011), Finlay, M.J.,The use and abuse of history (1975). Galbraith, V.H., An introduction to the study of history (1964). Gardiner, J., What is history today? (1988). Green, Anna and Troup Kathleen, eds., The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-century History and Theory (1999). Hexter, J.H., Doing history (1971). Hughes-Warrington, Marnie, Fifty Key Thinkers on History (2008). Iggers, George G. and Q. Edward Wang, A Global History of Modern Historiography (2008). Lambert, P. and Schofield, P., ed., Making History (2004) Marwick, Arthur., The nature of history (1989). Plumb, J.H., The death of the past (1969). Ritter, H., Dictionary of concepts of history (1986). Southgate, B., What is history? (2005). Bonnie Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women and Historical Practice (1998). Kenneth R., Fifty Key Works of History and Historiography (2011) Speigel, Gabrielle, ed., Practicing history : new directions in historical writing after the linguistic turn (2005). Tosh John, The pursuit of history: aims, methods, and new directions in the study of modern history (5th ed., 2010) (core text). Walker, Garthine (ed.), Writing Early Modern History (2005) Woolf, Daniel, A Global History of History (2011).
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- V100: BA History year 2 (BA/H)
- VV41: BA Herit, Archae & Hist year 2 (BA/HAH)
- VV42: BA Heritage, Archaeology & History with International Exp year 2 (BA/HAHIE)
- V1V9: BA History with Archaeology with International Experience year 2 (BA/HAIE)
- V1V4: BA History with Archaeology year 2 (BA/HAR)
- V10F: BA History [with Foundation Year] year 2 (BA/HF)
- V1W6: BA History with Film Studies year 2 (BA/HFS)
- V1W7: BA History with Film Studies with International Experience year 2 (BA/HFSIE)
- 8B03: BA History (with International Experience) year 2 (BA/HIE)
- V1P5: BA History with Journalism year 2 (BA/HJ)
- 8S11: BA History with Journalism (with International Experience) year 2 (BA/HJIE)
- V1PM: BA Hanes gyda Newyddiaduraeth year 2 (BA/HN)
- V10P: BA History with Placement Year year 2 (BA/HP)
- V140: BA Modern & Contemporary History year 2 (BA/MCH)
- V130: BA Mediaeval and Early Modern His year 2 (BA/MEMH)
- VV15: BA Medieval & Early Modern History with International Exp year 2 (BA/MEMHIE)
- V102: MArts History with International Experience year 2 (MARTS/HIE)
- V101: MArts History year 2 (MARTS/HIST)
Optional in courses:
- 3QV1: BA History and English Literature year 2 (BA/ELH)
- P3V1: BA Film Studies and History year 2 (BA/FSH)
- V103: BA History and Archaeology year 2 (BA/HA)
- V13P: BA History and Archaeology with Placement Year year 2 (BA/HAP)
- MVX1: BA History/Criminology year 2 (BA/HCR)
- LV11: BA History/Economics year 2 (BA/HEC)
- RV11: BA History/French year 2 (BA/HFR)
- RV21: BA History/German year 2 (BA/HG)
- RV31: BA History/Italian year 2 (BA/HIT)
- RV32: BA History and Italian (with International Experience) year 2 (BA/HITIE)
- VW13: BA History and Music year 2 (BA/HMU)
- VW14: BA History and Music with International Experience year 2 (BA/HMUIE)
- RV41: BA History/Spanish year 2 (BA/HSP)
- R804: BA Modern Languages & History year 2 (BA/MLH)
- VVV1: BA Philosophy and Religion and History year 2 (BA/PRH)
- LV31: BA Sociology/History year 2 (BA/SH)
- LV41: BA Social Policy/History year 2 (BA/SPH)
- QV51: BA Cymraeg/History year 2 (BA/WH)
- V104: BA Welsh History and Archaeology year 2 (BA/WHAR)
- VP23: BA Welsh History and Film Studies year 2 (BA/WHFS)
- VW2H: BA Welsh History and Music year 2 (BA/WHMU)
- LVH2: BA Welsh History/Sociology year 2 (BA/WHS)
- M1V1: LLB Law with History year 2 (LLB/LH)
- M1V2: LLB Law with History (International Experience) year 2 (LLB/LHI)