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Oral History Methods - HIS00169M

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

Module summary

This 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 the unique possibilities and challenges which it presents. The module 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. The module will address the ‘reliability’ and ‘accuracy’ of oral history testimony, and explore how even demonstrable error in oral testimony can provide insights into people’s experiences and the meanings they take from past events. Students 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 Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • Develop skills of source analysis and interpretation
  • Assess a range of source material and relevant secondary works; and
  • Develop students’ powers of evidence-based historical argument, both orally and in writing.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of a specialist historiographical literature;
  • Present findings in an analytical framework derived from a specialist field;
  • Solve a well-defined historiographical problem using insights drawn from secondary and, where appropriate, primary sources.
  • Set out written findings using a professional scholarly apparatus.

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing (RAW) weeks during which there are no seminars, and during which students research and write a formative essay, consulting with the module tutor. Students prepare for eight seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Oral History and Historical Memory: Accuracy, Validity, and Subjectivity
  2. Oral History in the Twenty-First Century: Possibilities and Challenges
  3. Workshop 1: Identifying and Setting up the Interview
  4. Workshop 2: Interview Techniques
  5. Workshop 3: Honing the Craft
  6. Workshop 4: Transcribing and Curating
  7. Project Surgery
  8. Mini Conference


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio : Essay, Transcript and Audio Sample
N/A 100

Special assessment rules




Module feedback

Students will typically receive written feedback on their formative essay within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars 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 formative essay during their tutor’s student hours—especially during week 11, before, that is, they finalise their plans for the Summative Essay.

For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, 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 reading during the module, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Graff, Garrett. The Only Plane In The Sky: The Oral History of 9/11. London: Monoray, 2019.
  • Leavy, Patricia. Oral History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Perks, Robert and Alistair Thomson ed. 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.