Historical Skills and Methods (833V1)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

This module provides an introduction to critical issues in historical methodology and practice. It’s also an opportunity to consider how they might be used in devising and researching an individual research project.

We focus on some of the methodologies of research and composition that have become influential in historical scholarship in the last four decades. Attention is given to the impact of various aspects of the ‘cultural turn’ on the study and writing of history, with particular reference to how historians:

  • categorise and deploy notions of identity (notably gender and race)
  • have re-evaluated the relationship of the ‘archive’ to historical knowledge
  • have become increasingly conscious of visual images and media for comprehending the past.

We will address the growing attention, not only among scholars but in the wider world, to issues of ‘memory’. We also explore the risks and opportunities posed to academic historians by this trend.

The course also involves a more ‘hands-on’ dimension. You’re introduced to primary-source materials (notably those held by the University’s Special Collections at The Keep) to understand how the methodological approaches discussed during the course may inform the way historians address their sources. This is also an opportunity for you to familiarise yourself with some of the more practical and quotidian aspects of conducting research with primary sources.

We designed the assessment exercises for this module to provide you with the training necessary to devise and research your MA dissertation topic.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 278 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: