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Arguments and Analysis - HIS00104C

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jon Howlett
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Arguments and Analysis is the first of four core modules, collectively known as ‘Approaches’ modules, that develop students’ understanding of the range of approaches, concepts and methodologies used by historians and how this can be applied to their own historical craft. This module aids students in making the academic transition to university by encouraging them to think about the role of historians in making history. It introduces students to historiography: the study of how history is produced. This is achieved through lectures and discussion groups that draw on a diverse range of case studies and examples of history making across time and place. Importantly, the course also equips students with the core skills needed to compose their own university-level historical study and to succeed throughout their time at York. Students will reflect on identifying scholarly arguments, academic referencing, reading, note-taking tactics and essay composition. Students will gain an understanding of the criteria that are used to evaluate their work with the department grade descriptors, according to which all assessments across their programmes are judged. Completion of the university’s compulsory online Academic Integrity Tutorial forms part of this module.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To induct students into the study of history at university. This includes introducing students to the degree, its expectations (including marking criteria), and resources.
  • To identify and develop disciplinary knowledge: critical reading and discussion, identifying historiographies, constructing arguments through essays and presentations, reading, note-taking, and referencing.
  • To provide an intellectual framework that provides the opportunity both to practise these elements and to reflect on the making of history (through lectures by, and discussions with, research-active professional historians)

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Be able to identify and critically evaluate different interpretations of the subject matter and approaches to it
  • Understand what makes for good essay composition (referencing, structure, argument, prose, etc.)
  • Be able to synthesise information from lectures, discussion groups and reading to make evidence-based arguments both orally in presentations and in writing
  • Understand the department’s marking grade descriptors
  • Be able to reflect upon their own historical practice
  • Be able to present their ideas as part of a group

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. What is Political History? Reading and note-taking
  2. What is Social History? Being in a seminar
  3. What is Economic History? Referencing
  4. What is Environmental History? Planning and structuring essays
  5. What is Intellectual History? Summarising scholarly arguments
  6. What is Cultural History? Making written arguments
  7. What is Global History? Constructing and giving presentations
  8. What is University-level historical study? Oral presentations practice


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Group Presentation
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment work, students will produce grade descriptor reflection resources in week 5 and participate in a presentation in week 11.

For summative assessment, students will participate in a group presentation in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Individual Reflection
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback 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 tutor’s 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:

  • John Arnold, History. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
  • Helen Carr and Suzanna Lipscomb (eds.), What is History Now? How the Past and the Present Speak to Each Other (W&N: London, 2021).

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.