Historical Methods and Approaches
This module provides training in advanced historical research. It is designed to introduce students to methods of historical investigation, writing, and presentation, and to important historical resources (including archives, collections of sources, and museums). Attention will be given to the use of IT in historical work work as well as more traditional paper-based methods.
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.
New Departures in the Writing of History
This module provides an introduction to advanced historiography. It is designed to develop students¿ awareness of traditional historiographical concerns alongside their knowledge current trends and new directions in writing and thinking about the past.
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.
Directed Reading in History
Under the guidance of an expert supervisor, students analyse developments in research and historiography relating to a topic in History which they choose from a wide range of options.
The 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.
Europe of Extremes, 1789 - 1989
The nineteenth century saw the rise of a western European civilization, characterized, as Eric Hobsbawm has noted, by capitalist economics, liberal politics, and the dominance of a middle class that celebrated morality and science. In the twentieth century this civilization faced unprecedented challenges from new political ideologies, and from a working class demanding the right to govern in its own name. The result was an eruption of violence not seen on the continent for centuries; in its wake, the Cold War divided the Europe with an Iron Curtain, and saw the continent become the client of two world superpowers ¿ the USA and the Soviet Union. This team-taught module relies on the specialist knowledge of its tutors to examine economic, political and social themes in the history of nineteenth and twentieth-century Europe.
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.
Modern British History
This module explores the broad sweep of the history of the United Kingdom since its modern creation in 1801. It brings together different approaches from political, economic, social and cultural history to consider the different ways the history of a nation can be studied. At the module's heart are questions of what constitutes a nation and the extent to which British society can be considered to be unified.
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.
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 Great War for Empire, 1754-1764
The Seven Years War was the single most important conflict in the eighteenth century, before the struggle against Republican France. It was truly a global conflict as rival armies and navies confronted each other in Europe, the Americas and India. Not only did the conflict mark the apogee of the first British Empire and confirm the rise of Prussia to Great Power status; it was also a major contributory factor in the American and French Revolutions. The belligerent states were forced to mobilize themselves to an unprecedented extent and attempted to promote a sense of national identity and patriotism in their subjects through the media.
A History of Violence
Violence has played a key role in European and world history. This module will explore how cultures of violence have developed from antiquity to modernity. Beginning with Ancient Greece and ending in the twentieth century, this module will chart the changing practice of violence. It will examine how attitudes towards the practice and representation of violence have changed over centuries. Students will explore different aspects of violence, including state sponsored and interpersonal forms. Topics will include warfare, ritual violence such as the dual, criminal violence and state violence, such as judicial torture and executions. A particular theme of the module will be the increasing state monopolization of violence. Students will be introduced to the theoretical literature on organized and individual violence and be challenged to draw comparisons from different epochs. The course questions whether, as has recently been argued, humanity is becoming less violent.
Study Group: History (Year 3)
2 hour weekly Study Group for History students (Year 3)