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Public History I: Meanings & Values in Public History - HIS00048M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Victoria Hoyle
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

The core modules for the MA in Public History will provide students with an advanced level examination of many of the key issues that are involved in the production of history in the public domain. The modules are taught by a range of historical practitioners from the University of York and from a number of external organisations. Core Module 1 examines the diverse ways in which historical knowledge and understanding are generated in public settings, and the contribution of this knowledge and understanding to politics, society and cultural values. It should provide students with a thorough theoretical grounding in the discipline and practice of public history.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to a broad range of conceptual and methodological frameworks for understanding the relationship between the past and its manifestations in contemporary society
  • explore examples of how the past is represented, constructed, debated and contested in the public sphere
  • encourage critical and theoretical evaluations of media strategies and cultural heritage public policy, married with concrete case studies
  • allow the student to marry academic knowledge with a rigorous understanding of specific case-study examples of public policy or representation, obtained through reading and discussion of policy documentation and other source materials
  • ensure that students are exposed to a broad range of research into media strategy and public heritage.

Module learning outcomes

After successfully completing this module students should:

  • possess an understanding of theoretical models for relating the past and the present
  • be able to assess their relationship to particular and specific examples in the arenas of policy or media
  • demonstrate an understanding of the relationships between theory and practice in Public History

Module content

Teaching Programme:
Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.

Key themes likely to be addressed include:

  1. The Past in the Present: What is Public History?
  2. Guides, Brands and Publics: Guidebooks as a Case Study
  3. Whose Past is It: Politics, Culture and Identity
  4. Difficult Pasts
  5. Family History
  6. Commemoration and Public Memory
  7. History, historians and visual media
  8. Museums and the Past: Engagement, Explanation and Education


Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will complete a 2,000 word essay for formative assessment, due in week 6, for which they will receive an individual tutorial.

Students taking the module as a core module will submit a 4,000 word assessed essay in week 10 of the autumn term. For those taking the module as an option module, a 4,000 word assessed essay will be due in week 2 of the spring term.

For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. They will also receive verbal feedback at an individual tutorial. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. Supervisors are available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Cauvin, Thomas. Public History: A Textbook of Practice. Abigdon: Routledge, 2016.
  • Ashton, Paul and Hilda Kean (eds.). People and their Pasts: Public History Today. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • De Groot, Jerome. Consuming History: Historians and Heritage in Contemporary Popular Culture. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009.
  • Gray, Ann and Erin Bell. History on Television. London: Routledge, 2013.
  • Kean, Hilda and Paul Martin (eds.). The Public History Reader. London: Routledge, 2013.
  • Macdonald, Sharon (ed.). A Companion to Museum Studies. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  • Macmillan, Margaret. The Uses and Abuses of History. London: Profile, 2010.
  • Rosenzweig, Roy. Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.