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Module HPH-4007:
Documents and Sources - Modern

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Nikolaos Papadogiannis

Overall aims and purpose

The module will introduce students to a range of sources and documents that are relevant to the study of Modern History. It will encourage an understanding of the ways in which historians use these sources and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses relative to different research contexts and questions.

Course content

This module will introduce students to a variety of sources and documents essential in the research of modern history. An indicative list of these sources is the following: visual evidence, newspapers and journals, novels, social surveys, personal sources (diaries and autobiographies).

Assessment Criteria


(A/70 plus) will show full understanding of the question and of the complexities of the source material, will use examples pertinently and demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the question. They may also show how existing secondary interpretations or popular perceptions have been influenced by approaches to source materials.


(C/50 or above) will make an adequate attempt to answer the question and show some appreciation of primary sources and of the context in which they are placed, but will tend either to describe these sources or to provide an essay on context rather than integrating the two in a balanced way.


(B/60 or above) will appreciate the aims of the question, will make some attempt to answer it by showing an awareness of sources and their application and use relevant but limited examples.

Learning outcomes

  1. To develop an appreciation of some particular sources used by historians, and of the problems and opportunities arising from these source materials.

  2. To develop critical awareness of the way that sources may be 'read' and of theoretical/historiographical debates between historians over these issues.

  3. To show an appreciation of their own abilities as information searchers and users, and the confidence to transfer these skills to their own research.

  4. To demonstrate an appreciation of the means by which new research conclusions may develop from an original approach to source materials.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 4500 words 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Seminars will practice the ability to contribute to scholarly discussion and to analyse source materials critically. This will work towards writing in a structured and analytical way on subjects relevant to the module, and to demonstrate a critical command of different theoretical and historiographical viewpoints.

Private study

Tailored reading lists for each individual topic and corresponding seminar will guide students' reading by highlighting core reading as well as providing choice.


Students are advised to book a one-on-one tutorial with the relevant seminar tutor to discuss their approach to their chosen essay question.


Transferable skills

  • 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.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • 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
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • 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
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity


Resource implications for students

None, other than perhaps the purchase of a few books.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

J. Cannon, ‘The historian at work’, in J. Cannon (ed.), The Historian at Work (1980), pp. 1–18 M. Dobson and B. Ziemann (eds), Reading Primary Sources: The Interpretation of Texts from 19th and 20th Century History (2008) M. Fulbrook, Historical Theory (2002), especially ch. VI (‘Looking for Clues’), pp. 98–121 Iggers, Georg G., New Directions in European Historiography K. Jenkins, ‘Introduction: on being open about our closures’, in K. Jenkins (ed.), The Postmodern History Reader (1997), pp. 1–30

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: