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Unit information: History in Public in 2021/22

Unit name History in Public
Unit code HIST20089
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. James Watts
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines the ways in which history is used outside the walls of the university. In particular, it aims to encourage students to think critically about the “uses of history”, how these are shaped by political, cultural, social and economic contexts, and how they change over time. How is history produced for non-academic audiences different, and why? Is public history more or less conservative than academic history? Can academic historians (and those with a degree in History) usefully play a part in these debates?

Content will vary from year to year, but the unit will be arranged around four main themes. These may include: heritage; politics and policy; history from the ground up; history and the media; history in schools.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a good understanding of some of the principal ways in which history has been used in contexts beyond academia
  2. offer critical responses to scholarly and lay writings on these topics
  3. elaborate and defend independent interpretations with a degree of sophistication appropriate to level I
  4. contribute to group tasks and discussions and demonstrate skills in oral presentation appropriate to level I

Teaching Information

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 Information

1 x 20-minute Individual Project Presentation + 1200-word Critical Commentary (100%) [ILOs 1-4]; 1 x Formative Group Presentation [ILOs 1-4]


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. HIST20089).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.