Approaches to History

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
20 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA VV31 Art History and History,
BA VV32 Art History and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV38 Art History and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV3B Art History and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV3C Art History and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V100 History,
BA V101 History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V102 History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V103 History (Including Placement Year),
BA MV91 History and Criminology,
BA MV92 History and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA MV98 History and Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA MV9C History and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV11 History and Economics,
BA LV18 History and Economics (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1L1 History and Economics (Including Placement Year),
BA VL11 History and Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BA QV21 History and Literature,
BA QV22 History and Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA QV2C History and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA VQ12 History and Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV31 History and Sociology,
BA LV32 History and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA LV38 History and Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV3C History and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA V1W6 History with Film Studies,
BA V1W7 History with Film Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA V1W8 History with Film Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1WP History with Film Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA V1L2 History with Human Rights,
BA V1L8 History with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1LF History with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA V1LG History with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA V140 Modern History,
BA V144 Modern History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V148 Modern History (Including Placement Year),
BA V149 Modern History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VL12 Modern History and International Relations,
BA VL14 Modern History and International Relations (Including Placement Year),
BA VL18 Modern History and International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA VL1F Modern History and International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV21 Modern History and Politics,
BA LV22 Modern History and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LV28 Modern History and Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV2C Modern History and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV15 Philosophy and History,
BA VV16 Philosophy and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV51 Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV5C Philosophy and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV5X Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Module description

As historians, we recognise that history exists only in the present and in our heads; it is actively constructed and not simply rediscovered in the records of the past. Historical research involves a process of selection and interpretation, whereby historians examine the records of the past in order to construct an interpretation which they believe to represent the past in a meaningful way. In this process there is an active exchange between theory and evidence: historians don't simply research facts about the past, they build theories test them using the sources available.

The introductory lecture surveys the 'History of history' and the way in which history is inevitably subjective, and therefore constantly changes. Each subsequent lecture will be delivered by a different historian. They will introduce you either to an important historical concept that has shaped historical writing, such as gender or Marxism, or a particular historian or group of historians who have had a profound impact upon the way in which history is written. In every case the focus is on the way in which history has been constructed in different contexts and with different theoretical approaches. Each lecture will offer you readings and documents to reflect upon both in seminars and in your written assessments.

This is a compulsory module for all second-year students taking History degrees. Lectures and seminars are weekly throughout the autumn term. BA Humanities students who have taken and passed HR100 or HR111 in their first year may also enrol on this module.

Module aims

The purpose of this module is to encourage you to think about the many and diverse ways in which historians approach the writing of history. You may at first find the module unusual, but it will illuminate everything you study in History.

Module learning outcomes

Students completing this module will be able to:

1. Understand the importance of theoretical and methodological approaches to the writing of history.
2. Understand the development of different approaches to the writing of history over time.
3. Read academic writing in a more sophisticated way to identify argument, rather than just facts or details
4. Identify methods, approaches, and influences when reading works of history.

Module information

General Reading List:

Arnold, John H., History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Burrow, John. A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century. (Penguin, 2009).

Carr, E. H., What Is History? (London: Penguin, 1990).

Loughran, Tracey, ed., A Practical Guide to Studying History: Skills and Approaches (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017).

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and seminars.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Week 4 formative reading response: Narratives of Nations (max 500 words)    0% 
Coursework   Week 5 reading response: Marxism and History (max 500 words)      
Coursework   Week 6 reading response: Social History and Society (max 500 words)      
Coursework   Week 7 reading response: Cultural History (max 500 words)      
Coursework   Week 8 reading response: Gender and History (max 500 words)      
Coursework   Week 9 reading response: Race Matters (max 500 words)      
Coursework   Week 10 reading response: Big Ideas (max 500 words)      
Coursework   Week 11 reading response: Memory and Oral History (max 500 words)     
Coursework   Extended reading response (1200 words)    40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Justin Colson, email:
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Mark Williams
Cardiff University
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History
Available via Moodle
Of 177 hours, 177 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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