Public History Module: Sharing the Secrets of Colchester Castle Museum

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


Module description

This module gives you a unique opportunity to apply your historical knowledge and research skills to help Colchester Castle Museum connect their collections with the communities that they serve. You will work with Colchester & Ipswich Museum Service's curatorial team and get a unique behind the scenes look at the work of an important museum. This will give you a valuable insight into the way in which heritage organisations share the material culture of the past with the public of today.

This year we will work with a large collection of high-quality artworks depicting nineteenth-century Colchester, which are currently in store, and most of which has never been displayed to the public. You will explore the museum stores and get the chance to select which paintings you will research using historical primary and secondary sources. What can you find about the people who lived on the streets the artist painted? What happened to the buildings and businesses that he depicted? You will present your research in an interactive multimedia 'StoryMap' online presentation of the places depicted in your chosen paintings.

Module aims

Students on this module will:

1. Work with external stakeholders (Colchester Castle Museum) to fulfil the requirements of a live research project relating to heritage or material culture.

2. Produce research resources that are written in a way that is accessible to public audiences.

3. Combine experience with traditional written historical sources with diverse kinds of primary sources such as material objects and artworks.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate how your work fulfils the requirements of a project set by an external organisation (Colchester Castle Museum).

2. Understand how archives, collections and research resources are organised and structured, and how they can be used together.

3. Confidently combine traditional written historical sources with diverse kinds of primary sources such as material objects and artworks.

4. Effectively combine text and media resources to create an attractive and accessible report using digital tools.

Module information

General reading list:

Hamling, Tara, 'Visual and Material Culture', in Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources, ed. by Laura Sangha and Jonathan Willis (London; New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 129-52.

Knell, Simon J., Suzanne Macleod, and Sheila E. R. Watson, eds., Museum Revolutions: How Museums Change and Are Changed (London: Routledge, 2007).

Macdonald, Sharon, ed., A Companion to Museum Studies, Blackwell Companions in Cultural Studies; 12 (Malden, Mass.; Oxford: Blackwell, 2006).

Schubert, Karsten, The Curator’s Egg: The Evolution of the Museum Concept from the French Revolution to the Present Day; 3rd ed (London: Ridinghouse, 2009).

Learning and teaching methods

One two-hour workshop per week, including visits to the Museum and fieldwork.


  • L. Jordanova. (1989) 'Objects of knowledge: A historical perspective on museums', in The new museology, London: Reaktion., pp.22-40
  • De Groot, Jerome. (2016) Consuming history: historians and heritage in contemporary popular culture, Abingdon: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • (Monday, 15 Apr 2019) A House Through Time: BBC2 England.
  • Jordanova, L. J. (2012) The look of the past: visual and material evidence in historical practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cannadine, David. (1952-) 'The Transformation of Civic Ritual in Modern Britain: The Colchester Oyster Feast', in Past and Present. vol. 94 (1) , pp.107-130
  • Bodenhamer, David J. (©2015) 'Narrating Space and Place', in Deep maps and spatial narratives, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework An individual research online presentation 40%
Coursework A reflective essay (2000 words) 07/01/2020 35%
Practical A class presentation 20%
Practical Seminar participation 5%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Mark Williams
Cardiff University
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History
Available via Moodle
Of 21 hours, 11 (52.4%) hours available to students:
10 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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