Exploring History: Research Workshop

The details
Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
10 April 2024


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),
MHISV199 History,
MHISZV98 History (Including Placement Year),
MHISZV99 History (Including Year Abroad),
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),
BA V200 History and Heritage,
BA V201 History and Heritage (Including Foundation Year),
BA V202 History and Heritage (including Placement Year),
BA V203 History and Heritage (including Year Abroad),
BA VM10 History and Law,
BA VM11 History and Law (Including Foundation Year),
BA VM12 History and Law (including Placement Year),
BA VM13 History and Law (including Year Abroad),
BA V114 History and Drama,
BA V115 History and Drama (including Foundation Year),
BA V116 History and Drama (including Placement Year),
BA V117 History and Drama (including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module focuses on the relationship between questions and evidence in forming historical knowledge.

Consolidating and extending the skills and abilities introduced in the Year 1 module Rebellious Pasts, it charts the development of the historical discipline, examines specific examples of historical debate (or what is known as "historiography"), and introduces you to different types of historical evidence and ways of analysing this evidence.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To communicate ideas and arguments effectively, whether verbally or in writing, in an accurate, succinct and lucid manner.

  • To understand historical arguments as presented in secondary scholarship.

  • To identify and analyse different types of primary sources.

  • To formulate and justify arguments and conclusions about a range of issues, and present appropriate supporting evidence.

  • To think critically and challenge assumptions.

  • To modify as well as to defend their own position.

  • To use a range of resources to assist with information retrieval and assignment presentation.

  • To manage their time effectively and independently organise their workloads.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to read and understand historical arguments.

  2. Evaluate a range of arguments put forward by historians on specific historical topics.

  3. Understand and explain some of the reasons for historical disagreement.

  4. Locate different types of historical evidence, including primary sources.

  5. Demonstrate understanding of the distinctive features of different types of historical evidence.

  6. Present, accurately, succinctly and lucidly, in written or oral form, their arguments in accordance with appropriate scholarly conventions.

  7. Organise their time effectively to work independently.

Module information

History is never neutral. It is always a response to the questions historians choose to ask of the past.

Historians decide what questions to ask for all kinds of reasons – out of interest, to aid understanding of specific aspects of the world around them, because certain types of evidence are available, or because the work of other historians has prompted them to think anew. These questions shape the evidence that historians look at, and therefore the kinds of answers they are likely to find. History is always a trialogue between the historian, the questions, and the evidence – and it is therefore a product of the present as well as the past.

Through exploring historical debates you will gain new insight into how history is researched, written, and contested. Through in-depth examinations of different kinds of primary sources you will develop new skills in historical research. Finally, you will bring these abilities together to research and write an extended essay on a topic of your choice, developing and practising the skills you will employ in your final year History Research Project.

Indicative syllabus

In the autumn term, the entire cohort attend the same lectures and participate in seminars on the same topic. The historical debate case studies will be selected with attention to subfields in the discipline, the demands of a decolonised curriculum, and the expertise of staff.

In the spring term, students opt to take one of three "streams" (Political Cultures; War and Memory; Identities). The first half of this term is taught through two weekly lectures (one attended by the entire cohort, the other stream-specific), supported by guided group meetings.

In the summer term students attend two lectures and supervision meetings to support their independent essay.

Autumn Term


  • Introduction

  • Political History

  • Social History

  • Cultural History

  • Objectivity, Bias, and Relativism

  • Historical Debate Case Study I

  • Historical Debate Case Study 2

  • Historical Debate Case Study 3

  • Historical Debate Case Study 4

  • Evidence and Interpretation

Seminars & Group Meetings

  •  Introduction

  • Political History

  • Social History

  • Cultural History

  • Objectivity, Bias, and Relativism

  • Historical Debate Case Study I

  • Historical Debate Case Study 2

  • Historical Debate Case Study 3

  • Historical Debate Case Study 4

  • Evidence and Interpretation

Spring Term [weeks 16-20, one cohort and three stream lectures per week, students attend cohort and one stream lecture per week] No seminars in weeks 16-20.

Cohort lecture (weeks 16-20)

  •  Researching an Independent Essay

  • Analysing Primary Sources

  • How to Locate Research Topics

  • 14 Primary and Secondary Sources in Dialogue

  • Planning and Managing Your Independent Essay

Stream-specific lectures (weeks 16-20, three streams, students attend one).

These will vary, but indicative content for 'Identities' is:

  • Introduction: Researching Identities

  • Letters

  • Diaries

  • Memoirs

  • Oral History

Seminars & Group Meetings

Spring Term [weeks 21-25, two sessions per week]

  • Seminar: Writing Research Proposals / SfS Workshop: Planning a Project

  • Supervision I / Library Workshop – Constructing Bibliographies

  • Seminar 2: Constructing Bibliographies / SfS Workshop: Writing Extended Essays

  • Supervision 2 / Library Workshop: Special Collections

  • Seminar 3: Using Evidence in the Independent Essay / Library Workshop: Digitised Sources

Summer Term

  • Lecture: Writing the Independent Essay

  • Supervision (with seminar tutors)

  • Lecture: What Next? Your History Research Project

  • Supervision

  • Supervision

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Lectures.
  • Seminars.
  • Workshops.
  • Individual supervision.

Lectures, seminars, and workshops are all 50 minutes long. Individual supervisions are 20 minutes long. All Module information will be available via Moodle. Key readings will be digitised an available on Talis Aspire.

The range of learning and teaching methods, and the provision of full information and materials on Moodle, ensure that diverse groups of students will be supported to learn to the best of their abilities, to excel in areas of existing strength, and to further develop skills in areas where this is required.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (1000 words)    20% 
Coursework   Primary Source Analysis (formative) (750 words)     0% 
Coursework   Presentation    30% 
Coursework   Independent Essay (3000 words)    50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Alix Green, email:
Prof Tracey Loughran, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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