Explorations modules

Explorations modules (30 credits) concentrate on a particular topic or theme over a relatively short period of time, and are designed to be a bridge between the autumn term Histories and Contexts and the Special Subject in your third year. The courses are designed to develop your critical skills in reading primary sources and secondary works as well as expanding your understanding of key issues in history.

You attend a weekly two-hour seminar in the spring term; and during the summer will focus on group projects. More information about the projects and a case study can be viewed here. The seminar element of these modules will be assessed by an exam taken in the assessment period of the summer term (weeks five to seven), and the project element will be assessed by written work handed in at the start of that assessment period (week five).

You'll typically be able to choose from around 18 options.

*Current students* please check you are viewing the correct year's module description.

The following list provides details of some of the Explorations offered by the department in recent years:

Summer Term group project

Case study

Writing a witchcraft pamphlet


Explorations modules are designed to develop further the skills that will help you prepare for your Third Year Special Subject. A novel feature of Explorations modules, which makes this family of courses different from those you will have encountered so far, is the group project.

The group project exciting because, unlike most of the assignments you’re asked to complete, you will not be working predominantly on your own. Collaboration often results in new ideas and ways of doing things that you would not have come up with individually. The group project is a task that will almost certainly have direct relevance to your future: the ability to work productively and effectively with a team of people is highly valued in all walks of life.

Projects vary from course to course. You should not be surprised to find that you are doing something quite different from fellow students on another course. Tutors set projects that complement and build on the material you will study in class. Historians don’t write books and articles in the same way; your project will reflect the approaches that are appropriate to your particular course.

Many tutors are keen to encourage their students to come up with their own ideas and think creatively. Working with others to devise a viable project and execute it successfully is an important aspect of becoming a fully-fledged historian. The project also requires groups to share tasks fairly and strategically: individual strengths are put to collective benefit and the group grows into something more than the sum of its parts. Your tutor will support you throughout and help you to prepare a plan of work, so that everyone in the group knows what they should be doing and when.

Projects offer a great opportunity for you to demonstrate independent research and originality. This is a challenging task, but most students also find it very stimulating. Look at the case study and see what past students have done for their projects. They are neither a ‘model’ for all Explorations courses, nor examples of how to get top marks. These projects show the inventive and thought-provoking work that Year Two students are capable of producing. You will have a chance to do likewise. We hope the group project will be inspiring as well as a good preparation for further work at Stage Three.