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Disciplines of History I: Issues in Historical Thought - HIS00112I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Tom Johnson
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

Disciplines of History 1 is a required module for both Single Subject History and Combined Degree students in Year Two of the History programme. It provides a concise history of the historical discipline, a targeted selection of key developments in historical practice, and opportunities for students to reflect critically in seminar settings on their own historical practice.

Students in this module will encounter tightly focused snapshots of historical practice and theory from antiquity to the present. Each week’s lectures will build on a foundation of individual staff expertise, combined with core readings across a wide array of historical eras (classical, medieval, early modern, and modern) and theoretical/critical traditions (historical materialism, social science, natural science, postmodernism, feminism, race theory, etc.).

Students will also have opportunities to integrate this material into focused discussions of their own historical practice over the course of three two-hour seminar sessions held in weeks 5, 7, and 9. These integrated seminars, which will include collective source-analysis exercises, will also help prepare Single Subject History students for more focused explorations of sub-disciplinary approaches in Disciplines of History 2.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To familiarise students with different approaches to the practice of history over time
  • To enable students to distinguish and critically evaluate different approaches to practicing history both within and beyond the contemporary discipline
  • To enable students to situate their own disciplinary practices in historical perspective

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Recognise key historical drivers of innovation within and debates about historical practice
  • Be able to distinguish between different modes of historical practice at different times in the history and pre-history of the discipline’s emergence
  • Be able to identify and critically evaluate the theoretical and/or disciplinary underpinnings of historical texts, placing them in historiographical context

Module content

Teaching programme

Students will attend weekly 1-hour lectures in weeks 1-9 of the spring term and a 2-hour seminar in weeks 5, 7 and 9.

The provisional lecture programme is as follows:

  • Week 1: Briefing
  • Week 2: Predecessors and Purpose
  • Week 3: Usable Pasts
  • Week 4: Emerging Approaches 
  • Week 5: Historical Materialism and its Discontents
  • Week 6: Historicizing the Language of History
  • Week 7: History, Social Science, and Silences
  • Week 8: History and Natural Science
  • Week 9: Abuses of History

The students will meet for three 2-hour seminars for synthetic discussions of the lectures and readings. Seminars in weeks 5 and 7 will include a collaborative source workshop exercise, during which students will break into small groups to perform a collective close reading of a text or texts in relation to the lectures and week’s themes. Small groups will then workshop those collaborative close readings in open discussion.

The provisional seminar programme is as follows:

  • Week 5: History’s Purposes
  • Week 7: History’s Limitations
  • Week 9: History’s Dangers


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 1500 Words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will submit a 1,500 word assessed essay for summative assessment due in week 10 of the spring term. This essay will require students, through analysis of selected weekly lectures and readings, to construct a historiographical argument in response to a broad question of disciplinary practice.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 1500 Words
N/A 100

Module feedback

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. Their 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 course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Arnold, John H. History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Scott, Joan Wallach ed. Feminism & History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Rolph-Trouillot, Michel. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995.

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.