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Oral History Methods - HIS00108M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Patrick Clibbens
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

The module provides students with an introduction to oral history concepts and methods. Students will learn about some of the different ways in which oral history research has been conducted, and about of the unique possibilities and challenges which it presents. The course will address both philosophical and practical concerns that arise from research that draws upon oral history. Students will learn how to plan, conduct, transcribe, and curate oral history interviews, and about the issues associated with ethics and data protection; they will also consider how different interviewing techniques might produce different kinds of data. They will learn how oral history is, and might be used within the context of both academic and public history.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • introduce students to oral history methods
  • build understanding of the theory and historiography of oral history
  • show students how to plan, conduct, and describe interviews
  • develop familiarity with the ethical issues involved in oral history
  • facilitate students’ ability to use oral history methods in their own research

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • recognize the range of methodological issues that arise from oral history
  • understand the ways that different historians have used oral history methods
  • know best practice in organizing oral history research
  • accurately transcribe speech and interpret its significance
  • plan their own research using oral history methods

Module content

Teaching Programme:
Students will attend a 2-hour seminar, two 4-hour workshops and a mini-conference in the spring term

The provisional programme is as follows:

Week 1: Briefing (1 hour)
Week 2: Context/theory seminar: Oral history and historical memory (2 hours)
Week 3: Practical workshop I: Creating and curating oral histories (4 hours)
Week 4: Practical workshop II: Using (and abusing) oral histories (4 hours)
Weeks 5-8: Independent project work
Week 8: Project Mini-Conference (3 hours)


Task Length % of module mark
University - project
Project portfolio
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will submit a project portfolio in week 10 of the spring term for summative assessment, comprising of a short transcript and a 1000-word reflective essay.

Students will produce a short transcript of an oral history interview, to the format and standards required for publication. In a reflective essay, they will then explain how they selected, handled, and transcribed this testimony and evaluate how it was created and how it might be used by historians.

Prior to that in week 8, students will make a short presentation to the group at the mini-conference about their chosen project, the research they have undertaken, and their likely direction for the reflective essay.


Task Length % of module mark
University - project
Project portfolio
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive constructive verbal feedback from the module convenor and their peers during the mini-conference, which they can then take forward into the completion of their final project portfolio.

For their summative assessment task, students will receive written feedback within four working weeks of the submission deadline, after which the convenor will be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if necessary. 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:

Thompson, Paul. The Voice of the Past: Oral History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Frisch, Michael. A Shared Authority: Essays on the Craft and Meaning of Oral and Public History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

Perks, Robert and Alistair Thomson (eds). The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 2006.

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.