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Public History II: Methodologies & Practices in Public History - HIS00049M

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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
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

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 2 will help students to explore the methodologies and practical challenges of presenting history in public settings and in different social and institutional contexts, and will thus provide them with a thorough practical grounding in the discipline and practice of public history.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • to introduce students to the deployment of the past in the public realm, and particularly the means by which it is put into practical use in a wide variety of contemporary social contexts
  • to identify the means by which history can influence and has influenced matters of public policy, and to understand the role of the historian in contemporary society
  • to explore some of the ways in which historical narratives have been presented in the media in recent years, and the ways in which the past is packaged for popular consumption via print-media, television, radio, cinema, and the internet
  • to introduce to students some of the ways in which the past is presented to the public in the heritage, museum, and gallery sector
  • to ensure that every seminar allows the student to marry academic knowledge with a rigorous understanding of specific case-study examples of public policy or public representation, obtained through reading and discussion of policy documentation and other source materials
  • to 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:

  • be capable of demonstrating a range of knowledge concerning a variety of intersections between the past and the public in the heritage and media spheres
  • be able to assess particular examples of practice in the sphere of public history
  • be able to evaluate examples of public history practice using wider theoretical frameworks alongside individual case-studies

Module content

Teaching Programme:
Students will attend weekly two-hour seminars.

Key themes are subject to variation, but are likely to include most of the following:

  1. Museums and the Past: Curation and the Public
  2. Archives and Society
  3. Museums and the Future: Innovations in Participation
  4. Digital Pasts
  5. Public History and Social Media
  6. History, TV and the Public
  7. Making History Horrible
  8. Living History
  9. Country Houses and History


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 or 7 of the spring term, for which they will receive an individual tutorial. They will then submit a 4,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 1 of the summer 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. Abingdon: 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.