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Unit information: Rethinking History in 2021/22

Unit name Rethinking History
Unit code HIST23101
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hailwood
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This course is called ‘Rethinking History’ because we want you to rethink your understanding of the discipline of History. We want you to develop a greater awareness of how and why historians are constantly rethinking the past. We want you to reflect on how and why historians’ interpretations of the past are constantly changing, but also how and why their approaches to it have changed, and continue to change, over time. What questions do historians ask about the past, and what concepts and methods do they use to do so? What influences these things? It is, essentially, a course in historiography. This is not a dirty word. A unit on historiography requires you to explore the types of questions you explore in all other units: how and why do things change over time? What are the main causes of change, or of continuity? Who are the key individuals and groups driving change? It is just that in this unit we are not asking these questions of twentieth century China, or Reformation Europe, but rather of the discipline of History itself.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. articulate the methodological diversity and richness of historical studies,
  2. evidence and critically assess the development and character of varieties of historical writing over time
  3. discuss how historians use and apply concepts (e.g.gender) in historical debates
  4. evaluate historiographical debates, and to locate texts within their appropriate historiographical context
  5. characterise the relationship between history and cognate disciplines within both the humanities and the social sciences
  6. make historiographical and methodological connections between historical writing about different periods and places

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 3000-word Portfolio (100%) [ILOs 1-6]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HIST23101).