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Evidence & Methods - HIS00088C

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sam Wetherell
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module introduces students to the way that academic historians use, interpret, and debate the value of historical evidence. It is a vital step in the transition between school- and university-level history, enabling students to understand evidence as the most fundamental building block of historical argument. Students will learn how potential historical ‘sources’ – from shopping lists to state papers, novels to Netflix – can become historical evidence; they will learn to weigh the significance of a piece of evidence and assess how to deploy it to construct an argument; and they will come to be familiar with some of the key concepts through which historians understand evidence. The module not only provides a foundation for historical understanding, it also gives students the tools to enable critical thinking. By the end of this module, students will have acquired skills and knowledge that will remain vital throughout their degree and beyond.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To teach students the relevance and significance of evidence in historical argument
  • To familiarize students with historical methodologies relating to evidence
  • To introduce students to historiographical debates about the nature of historical evidence
  • To show students how to interpret a range of sources and deploy them as evidence

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will have:

  • Understand and explain the difference between sources and evidence
  • Show the relevance and significance of evidence within historical arguments
  • Be able to recognize and critique the ways that historians deploy evidence
  • Have practised interpreting sources as evidence and deploying evidence as part of an argument

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1, then two lectures and a 1-hour discussion group in each of weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW). Students prepare for and participate in sixteen lectures and eight discussion groups in all.

Lecture and discussion group topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Culture and Mentalities
  2. Fictions and Narratives
  3. Archives
  4. Writing the Self
  5. Voices and Oral History
  6. Images and Objects
  7. Numbers
  8. Silences


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 500 word source commentary and 1500 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment work, students will produce a 500-word source commentary in week 9.

For summative assessment, students will complete a 500-word source commentary and a 1500-word essay in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 500 word source commentary and 1500 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their discussion groups and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their lecturers’ student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For summative assessment tasks, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 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 semester-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:

  • Ludmilla Jordanova, History in Practice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
  • Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987).
  • David Armitage and Jo Guldi, The History Manifesto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

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.