Genealogy and History courses

 We offer two courses looking at history through genealogy

Traditionally confined to royal and noble families, genealogy or the study of family history, is quickly becoming one of the most popular and exciting of twenty-first century hobbies for people from all kinds of backgrounds. A desire to know our roots, to learn more about where we “come from” coupled with higher degrees of mobility and increasingly accessible online tools have contributed to a surge in the number of people tracing their ancestry across the world.


Please address any enquiries about the courses to:

Department of English Part-time Courses
School of Humanities
11 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB

Tel: 0117 928 8924

Course 1 – Absolute beginners

Back to the roots: understanding your history through genealogy research

When Wednesdays, 6.00-8.00pm 

(8 meetings) 

14th October - 2nd December 2020 



Tutor Dr Penny Walters

This 8 week course will include an introduction to family history and genealogy, and the many resources available. We will find out:

  • how to start and fill in a tree
  • the role of interviewing available family members
  • what resources the General Register Office has, including: birth, marriage and death certificates
  • how to read and analyse Censuses.
We will also look at:
  • DNA testing options, with the potential advantages and disadvantages of different companies, and how to upload DNA results to the GEDmatch merging site.
  • How to mix DNA results with a paper trail.
  • Those who have been fragmented from biological family, through adoption for example, and address how to contact biological relatives, or compile an ancestral tree.
  • Ethnicity and identity, heritage, diaspora, homelands, oral histories, including the black British experience.
  • The role of specific religions and countries when compiling a tree.
An underlying theme will be that some people may uncover ancestors’ secrets and lies, so we will also address ethical dilemmas in genealogy.
Course fee £132
Previous qualifications/experience

No qualifications needed. Open to the public.

Course 2 

Climbing up the tree: exploring history through genealogy 

When Wednesdays, 6.00-8.00pm 

(4 meetings) 

10th February - 3rd March 2021



Tutor Dr Gonzalo Velasco Berenguer

Through church, military, notarial and other records we can trace the families that preceded us and of which each of us is a unique product. But family history is not merely a collection of names, dates and places. Indeed, genealogy sits at the intersection of several disciplines that can help us reconstruct, not only our own families, but also the societies, political systems, religious beliefs and geographical conditions which shaped their existence. Genealogy is, therefore, not just a hobby, but a method of historical research, which is progressively being used by historians to reconstruct the lived experience of communities which are now lost to explore, question and challenge diverse notions of race, politics, religion and agency.

This 4 week course will offer a special emphasis on political and religious history as well as race relations in the Iberian world. It will combine both research experiences to aid students understand the usefulness of genealogy for the historical endeavour, whilst reminding them that genealogy can help us understand where we come from and the historical experiences which shaped our families. 

Course fee £70
Previous qualifications/experience

No qualifications needed. Open to the public.

Edit this page