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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: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 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. Core Module 2, Public History Methodologies and Practices, will help students to explore approaches to presenting history in public settings and in different social and institutional contexts, applying the theories and concepts studied in the first core module. We will consider practical, theoretical and ethical challenges in public history practice. Each week will be taught by a guest lecturer, who is an experienced public history practitioner, and students will be set tasks and challenges to work on individually and in groups. The module also involves several class visits to public history places, including a museum, an archive, a country house and a historical attraction.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

This 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 completing this module students should have:

  • 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 eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Museums, Exhibitions and Public History (National Railway Museum)

  2. Archives and Society (Explore York Archives)

  3. History in the Media

  4. Children, Education and Horrible Histories

  5. Gaming the Past: Digital Histories

  6. Collections and Communities in the Country House (Nunnington Hall)

  7. Living History (Jorvik Viking Museum)

  8. Immersive Experiences: Escape Rooms as Public History


Task Length % of module mark
4,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will complete a 2,000-word formative essay, due in week 6 of the term. They will then submit a 4,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 1 of the following term.

For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Taught Masters Degrees Statement of Assessment.


Task Length % of module mark
4,000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment, students will receive oral feedback at a one-to-one meeting with their tutor and written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. Tutors are also available in their student hours to discuss formative assessment. 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. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

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

Gray, Ann and Erin Bell. History on Television. London: Routledge, 2013.

Macdonald, Sharon (ed.). A Companion to Museum Studies. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Sayer, Faye. Public History : A Practical Guide. London : Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.

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.