Students produce a dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a historical topic, chosen in conjunction with their supervisor. This represents the culmination of the History MAs, and constitutes Part Two of the programme.
This module is designed to help students to identify a dissertation topic appropriate to their interests and expertise, and to tackle the problems of methodology, develop the research techniques, and undertake the project planning which are the necessary preliminaries to researching and writing a 20,000 word dissertation.
Empire, Slavery and Liberty in the British Atlantic World, 1584-1808
Early Modern World, 1500-1800
In 1500, European exploration and colonisation of the rest of the world was only in its infancy. America, two continents North and South, had been unknown to Europeans until just eight years previously. Most of it was still unmapped by Europeans, as were large parts of the rest of the world. By 1800, on the other hand, it was possible to construct a recognisable modern version of a world map. Europeans had explored, colonised, and resettled huge swathes of America in the first instances. They had killed or displaced millions of Native Americans in the process, wiping out whole civilisations, and they had enslaved 12 million or more Africans in that same process, inflicting immense damage on African societies. Europeans were in the early stages of colonising large parts of Africa and Asia too by 1800.
And yet, advances in science had transformed human understanding of the universe, of the world, and indeed of ourselves. This was connected through the Renaissance in art, culture, and politics as well as science, to enormous changes in the structure of polities and societies. The early modern era perhaps saw the invention not only of modern empires, but of large, centralised modern states. Also, the Renaissance and then Enlightenment changed the way people and states interacted. Arguably, the early modern period represents the transition period between an era of medieval hierarchy and the origins of modern social and political democracy.
Essentially, the aim of the module, through your lectures, seminars, and independent reading and thinking, is to give you a sense of the connections between these places and their histories, highlighting that the increasing inter-connection between them is itself a feature of the early modern period. You¿ll also get a broad sense of how the world as a whole changed between 1500 and 1800.
History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television.
This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.
A History of Pennsylvania, Quakers, Colony and Commonwealth, 1631-2010
This module surveys the political, social, cultural and economic history of the State of Pennsylvania. It allows students to explore the rich history of America as it is researched and taught by American historians with the Unites States, that is, through the lens of `state¿ history. This module will allow students to explore the foundation of a key British colony in North America, to follow its trajectory of growth and interaction with other colonies before the American Revolution and its trajectory of growth and interaction with both other states and the United States Federal Government from 1776 to 2010. This module aims to help students capture the nature of `state identity¿ in America, so fundamental to American political and social history. Students will be encouraged to view America as most Americans see it, looking out from within a state context, with all of the historical and historiographical considerations that approach entails. Some core strands are political, social and cultural life against the backdrop of colonial life, revolution, civil war, industrialisation and deindustrialisation.
The Practice of History
The purpose of the module is to encourage you to think more deeply about how historians work and, in particular, about how we as historians can locate and use primary historical sources effectively as a means of interpreting and understanding the past. During the module we will learn about the survival of historical evidence, how it is organised and made accessible to historians to undertake their research, and how to effectively locate and interpret it in your studies. We will consider how the process of doing historical research changes over time, in particular with the impact of recent developments like digitization.
At the core of the module will be the work you undertake with others in your seminar group using a range of primary sources which your seminar tutor will introduce to you. As part of the module assessment you will also undertake your own primary source based research project using items from these collections. The module is designed strengthen your analytical skills and to help prepare you for the more extensive uses of primary evidence which you will encounter in final year special subjects and dissertation.
Revolutionary America, 1760 - 1791
This module explores the American Revolution, the formation of the United States, and imperial and colonial politics and society between 1760 and 1791. The first section of the module explores events from the end of the French and Indian War in 1760, taxes and other measures leading to Independence in 1776, the war of 1775-83, through to the founding of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1787-91. The second section examines imperial politics and colonial societies in greater depth, exploring the evolution of Anglo-American constitutionalism and political thought throughout the period, and examining social structure in America, slavery, Native Americans, women, and whether 1760-1791 saw a 'social revolution'. The third part of the module will explore particular people, places, events, and themes in greater detail still (e.g. the Founding Fathers, urban artisans, the rural South, the Boston Tea Party, revolutionary concepts and ideas, etc.). Students may request topics for lectures for the third section of the module. Seminars will analyse various primary documents including the Declaration of Independence (1776) and Constitution (1787) and Bill of Rights (1791), but students may request that other documents also be included in tutorial readings.
The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.
The British Atlantic World c.1550-1760
This module will provide an overview of central aspects of the social, cultural and political history of Britain and its American colonies between the mid-sixteenth and the mid-eighteenth centuries. The module will examine the politics, culture and society of Britain in this period and assess how the development of Britain¿s overseas colonies in North America contributed to Britain¿s emergence as a true world power by the eighteenth century.
The first part of the module will explore changing patterns of belief, social and economic structures and political participation in Britain set against the backdrop of the Reformation and the political and ideological struggles that resulted in the civil wars of the seventeenth century. The impact of religious changes, constitutional change and state building will be considered, as well as changes in thinking about gender and the social order. Students will be encouraged to consider the attitudes and values of a society very different to the modern world via topics such as family life, witchcraft and popular religious cultures, and will consider how far more `modern¿ perspectives on these and other themes emerged in this period.
The second half if this module examines the formation of the American colonies and British Empire from attempts to settle Roanoke Island in the 1580s to British conquest of Quebec in the French and Indian War in 1760 (the American theatre of the Seven Years¿ War of 1756-63). After a brief introduction to sixteenth-century exploration, trade, and plunder, and the origins of the idea of empire, the module will explore the development of British-American and African-American societies and cultures, and the destruction of Native-American societies and cultures in the North American colonies and the Caribbean. It will then look at ideas of empire through the eyes of intellectuals, merchants, colonial founders, migrants (free and enslaved), and finally the monarchs and ministers who attempted to shape the politics and constitution of empire.