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Historical Thinking - HIS00125I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Eliza Hartrich
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Historical Thinking, the fourth and final Approaches module, will provide students with the analytical tools necessary to produce the highest quality historical writing. It provides a chance for deep reflection on the history and philosophy of history through the study of eight key dimensions of, and debates about, historical practice. Each week students attend two lectures and a discussion group led by an academic historian. The first lecture will generally introduce an issue in historical thought; the second will normally examine its implications and impact on historical practice. Students then discuss the topic with a practising historian, rendering abstract concepts into concrete application. This module provides an important moment in the degree when students can reflect upon the approach they will take in their dissertation work. Students will develop a deep understanding of the use of evidence, the nature of historical narrative and the application of concepts and theories, in their own historical scholarship.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to important debates about the nature of historical knowledge and practice.
  • To enable students to think critically about fundamental categories which underpin and enable different branches of historical writing and analysis
  • To develop skills of close reading and conceptualization

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have familiarity with important debates about the nature of historical knowledge and practice and be able to recognise their relation to historical practice.
  • Be able to reflect critically on how historians employ and define key categories in different forms of historical writing and analysis.
  • Be able to recognize and critique assumptions which may underpin historical debates and analyses
  • Have developed skills in close reading and conceptual analysis.

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. Disciplinary Foundations or Disciplinary Myths?
  2. Proof and Plausibility
  3. Historical Narrative
  4. Marxism and History from Below
  5. Postcolonial Histories
  6. The Social and the Material
  7. Periodization and Interpretation
  8. Historical Time, Planetary Time?


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open Exam - Historical Thinking
5 hours 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment work, students will produce an essay plan in week 5.

For summative assessment, students will complete an Open Exam in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open Exam - Historical Thinking
5 hours 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 discussion group reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • N. A. Raab, Who is the Historian? (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2016).
  • Joan Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018).
  • Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Chicago: University of Chicago 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.