Module HCH-1050:
The Past Unwrapped

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Mari Wiliam

Overall aims and purpose

The Past Unwrapped is designed to help you navigate the transition to studying History and/or Archaeology at university, and it aims to satisfy one of the benchmark requirements of a History degree by developing the ability to analyse and construct arguments, to communicate ideas and to work independently. It will introduce you to the building blocks of academic work, and will teach you the fundamentals of studying, writing and presenting the past at degree level. Firstly, it will familiarise you with the different methods of teaching and learning encountered at undergraduate level, and will help you to answer questions such as ‘What do I do in a seminar?’ or ‘How are my essays marked?’ Secondly, it will help you cultivate a range of core study skills, such as using journal articles, dealing with the university library and preparing for essays and presentations. Thirdly, it will demystify how historians and archaeologists explore the past by looking at debates and disagreements between them, as well as examining different types of primary sources and their uses in scholarly work. By working closely in a small tutorial group led by an academic member of staff - and reinforced by seminars and workshops - you will analyse historical case studies, receive regular feedback and build a portfolio of skills on a weekly basis.

Course content

  1. Introduction: From Past to Present: Some ideas on how to make the best of your existing skills as you move to university-level study. Learn some of the basics of studying History and/or Archaeology at Bangor.

  2. Library skills and making intelligent use of the web: Looking at what to expect in the university library, how to use reading lists, how much to read and what to do with all those electronic resources at your disposal.

  3. From chaos to order: organisation and note-taking. How to plan and organise your work, and how to make wise decisions when taking notes from books, articles and lectures.

  4. Avoiding plagiarism: Learn why cutting and pasting from the web is bad practice, and why academic misconduct is treated very seriously. Learn as well how to avoid this by referencing effectively i.e. using evidence, footnotes and compiling solid bibliographies.

  5. Essays and making a good (grammatical) impression: Understand what the essay question actually wants you to do, how to structure your work, and how to develop an argument. Gain insight into some of the common errors in History and Archaeology essays, and see why good spelling and punctuation are crucial.

  6. Historiography: How to make sense of all these academics saying different things and disagreeing with each other. What are the differences (and similarities) between ‘academic’ and ‘popular’ history?

  7. Analysis and critical thinking: Or, how to move beyond just describing the past. Understand what your tutor means by telling you to be more critical.

  8. Make your voice heard: competent communication: Understand why it’s important for you to communicate your ideas clearly, and how you can prepare effectively for presentations.

  9. Documents and sources: Learn how historians use different types of documents and artefacts, and explore how you can analyse them yourself.

  10. Far-reaching feedback: What is the purpose of feedback, and how are different types of assignments marked? Learn that you need to look beyond your mark to improve your work.

  11. Exam technique: How to keep it together in exams, and how to deduce what exam questions actually want you to do.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

here are three grades for third-class performance:

D+ (48%) Work is marked D+ if it: shows evidence of acceptable amounts of reading,but does not go much beyond what was referenced in lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers much of the necessary ground but fails to discuss one or a few vital aspects of a topic; deploys relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole, or sustains a clear argument only for the greater part of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points, but sometimes fails to do so, or shows difficulty in weighing evidence, or chooses unreliable evidence; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but without devoting sustained discussion to this; is for the most part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious problems in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but occasionally misunderstands their appropriate use or makes mistakes in their presentation.

D (45%) Work is marked D if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based partly on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers some of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only some parts of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical or inappropriate evidence; shows some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is often correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.

D- (42%) Work is marked D- if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based largely on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers parts of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some potentially relevant material but fails to bring it together into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only parts of the piece; occasionally deploys evidence to back some individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical, or inappropriate evidence; may show some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is in part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.

In addition, for work that fails to meet the standard for honours:

E+ (38%) Reading: Work may show evidence of reading—but this is largely cursory Content: Work discusses a limited number of the basic aspects of a topic, but leaves many out; or shows largely a limited knowledge of those it discusses; or is short weight; or makes major mistakes about the pattern of events. Argument: Work is mostly badly organized; or has a largely unclear argument; or makes an argument which is quite irrelevant to the task in hand. Analysis: Work deploys only a limited amount of evidence and tends more to express opinion without much support from historical fact (or archaeological evidence); or misuses evidence; or indicates only a limited sense that evidence can be interpreted in different ways. Presentation: Work makes some serious mistakes in presentation or writing style or in coherence; or makes some serious errors in grammar, spelling, or paragraph construction (but see guidelines on dyslexia below). Scholarly apparatus: Work prone to misuse references and bibliography, or inconsistent in recognizing when these are essential.

excellent

There are four grades for first-class performance: A* (95%) At this level, first-class work earns its mark by showing genuine originality. It may advance a novel argument or deal with evidence which has not been considered before. Such originality of ideas or evidence is coupled with the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected of first-class work graded at A or A+. At this level, the work exhausts relevant secondary material, includes in dissertation work extensive and often unanticipated primary evidence, and betrays no factual or interpretative inaccuracy. It can also show a mastery of theory and deploy hypotheses subtly and imaginatively. In the case of essays and dissertations, work of this standard will be impeccable in presentation and will be publishable.

A+ (87%) At this level, first-class work will also have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail, but will further deploy the evidence consistently accurately and give indications of deploying unexpected primary and secondary sources. It will habitually demonstrate a particularly acute and critical awareness of the historiography and/or archaeological debate, including conceptual approaches, and give a particularly impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It will show a particularly sophisticated approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. It will be original work. The standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently first-class work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be very high.

A (80%) At this level, first-class work will have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail. It will usually also demonstrate an acute awareness of historiography and/or archaeological debate, and give an impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be high.

A- (74%) A first-class mark at this level is often earned simply by demonstrating one or more of the features of a good upper-second essay to a peculiar degree, for example presenting a particularly strong organization of argument, strong focus, wide range of reading, engagement with the historiography and/or archaeological debate, depth of understanding, an unobjectionable style, and strong presentation.

C- to C+

There are three grades for lower second-class performance: C+ (58%) Work will receive a C+ mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains partially superficial; covers the important aspects of the relevant field, but in some places lacks depth; advances a coherent and relevant argument; employs some evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only a few or no mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient.

C (55%) Work will receive a C mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains superficial; covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth; advances a coherent and largely relevant argument; employs some limited evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only limited mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, contain some mistakes or be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient.

C- (52%) Work will receive a C- mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but little knowledge of in-depth studies (for first-year work the student may not have read beyond a few standard works; at second or third year the student may not have read a good selection of journal articles and specialist monographs); covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth or misses a significant area (for second- and third-year work this may mean that it fails to deploy the historical details found in specialist literature); advances a coherent, and sometimes relevant argument, but drifts away from tackling the task in hand (for example, by ordering the argument in an illogical way, becoming distracted by tangential material, or lapsing into narrative of only partial pertinence); usually employs evidence to back its points, but occasionally fails to do so or deploys an insufficient range; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways, but may fail to get to the heart of the central scholarly debate or fully understand a key point (in second- and third-year work this may extend to a failure to discuss important subtleties or ambiguities in the evidence, or to a lack of awareness of the current state of historical or archaeological debate); is reasonably well presented and contains appropriate references and bibliography, but makes some mistakes in presentation or appropriate use.

good

There are three grades for upper second-class performance:

B+ (68%) Work will receive a B+ mark if it is consistently strong in: covering the necessary ground in depth and detail; advancing a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analysis and deployment of an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and consideration of possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

B (65%) Work will receive a B mark if it: is clear that it is based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in depth and detail; advances a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

B- (62%) Work will receive a B- mark if it: is clearly based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in some depth and detail; advances a properly-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

Learning outcomes

  1. Distinguish between the various types of source materials used by historians and archaeologists in their research.

  2. Summarise and identify arguments in academic articles and books.

  3. Communicate ideas clearly and lucidly in written work, in group discussions and verbally.

  4. Critically reflect on individual study skills, and how they’ve developed during the module.

  5. Comprehend the nature of historical and/or archaeological practice at degree level by studying specialist case studies.

  6. Critically appraise basic historiographical debates and arguments.

  7. Compile and correctly present references and bibliographies (scholarly apparatus).

  8. Exhibit awareness of the differences between ‘popular’ and ‘academic’ history by examining different styles of writing about the past.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Presentation 10
PORTFOLIO 1 45
PORTFOLIO 2 45

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

Private study is essential to high achievement in an Arts and Humanities degree. This time should be spent working on key skills, reading around a given subject, preparing for seminars, and researching portfolio and presentation tasks. It provides the opportunity to develop an understanding of the period in part or as a whole, and should act as a stimulus to further reading, or raise questions that can be brought to seminars and mentoring sessions for discussion.

167
Seminar

11 hour seminars will be held on this module, and each will be 1 hour long. They will involve you being in a small group of c. 10-12 students led by a staff member or a PhD researcher. The purpose of these classes will be twofold. Firstly, to develop history-specific skills via practical work (e.g. marking your own essays). Secondly, to encourage you to reflect on your progress. These classes will not be quite the same as the seminars you’ll have on other modules, as they will involve an element of in-class work and reporting-back, alongside debate. You will be set preparatory work for some tutorials, and these tasks will be released on Blackboard a week beforehand.

11
Workshop

11 workshops will be held on this module, and each will be 1 hour long. The purpose of these large group workshops is to introduce you to key transferable skills involved in producing high quality academic work. Many of these workshops will include contributions by specialist instructors from the University’s Study Skills Centre, Library and Employability Centre. These workshops will provide you with an essential foundation for the portfolio, and with skills that you’ll develop in-depth in tutorials and peer mentoring classes.

11
Study group

Everyone studying the Past Unwrapped will be assigned their own Study Mentor (sometimes called Peer Mentors or Study Buddies). Your Study Mentor will be a fourth year student who is entered on the four year MArts degree in History or Archaeology or is a Bangor University graduate studying for an MA. Each Study Mentor is a Bangor veteran, having studied with us for the past three years. Educational research has shown how first year students can improve their performance by working with the guidance of more experienced peers. All of the Study Mentors on the Past Unwrapped have a solid academic record, are engaging and approachable, and in these classes you will work with them on building the assessment portfolio for the module as well as preparing for the presentation.

11

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • 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 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
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions

Resources

Resource implications for students

None

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/hch-1050.html

Reading list

Mary Abbott, History Skills: A student’s handbook (2008). John Arnold, History: A very short introduction (2000).
 Jeremy Black and Donald MacRaild, Studying History (2007).
 Peter Claus, History: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice (2014). Miriam Dobson and Benjamin Ziemann, Reading Primary Sources (2008). Ann Gray and Erin Bell, History on Television (2013). Bryan Greetham, How to write better essays (2013).
 Ludmilla Jordanova, History in Practice (2000). Peter Lambert and Phillipp Schofield (eds), Making History: an introduction to the practices of history (2004). John Tosh, The Pursuit of History (2015 edition).

Detailed reading lists based around the module case study will be on hand in the module handbook.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: