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Unit information: Approaches to History in 2021/22

Unit name Approaches to History
Unit code HISTM2009
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Stephen Mawdsley
Open unit status Not open




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


What is history and how should we study it? Do historians reconstruct or invent the past? What is the relationship between history and the 'facts'? Why do historians ask some questions and not others, and how does that affect their choice of sources? How do different ideas about narrative style (the need, for instance, for a history with a beginning, a middle and an end) affect our approaches to, and understandings of, the past? This unit invites students to explore these and related questions by introducing them to a series of contemporary debates about reading, researching and writing history. Through lecture and seminar discussions we will examine a series of themes such as: history and narrative, postmodernism and history, cultural history, and gender, feminism and history.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be expected to:

  • have developed a detailed understanding of key historiographical developments and some of the major types of history which academics undertake
  • be able to evaluate critically different approaches that historians have used
  • be able to develop and justify their own independent opinions and arguments relating to established historiographical traditions
  • be able to express these opinions at length in written work which deploys high level skills in selecting, applying, interpreting and organising information

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including interactive lecture-style sessions and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

5000 word essay


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. HISTM2009).