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Unit information: Researching and Writing History in 2015/16

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Unit name Researching and Writing History
Unit code HISTM0055
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Tim Cole
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to introduce postgraduate students to the process of historical research, from the formulation of research questions, to the completion of a final draft. Areas to be covered will include: appropriate methodologies for different kinds of sources; organising and analysing one’s research materials; establishing a regular writing practice; improving one’s writing style; working towards a completed manuscript. This unit will be taught through a mixture of interactive lectures, smaller workshops, and action-learning groups, which will encourage students to reflect on their research and writing practices, and establish networks of peer support.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students should:

1. Have a firm grasp of the historical research process

2. Understand the kinds of sources available to them, and appropriate methodologies for dealing with them

3. Have a clear plan for their own research projects, including research questions, sources, organisation, and a sound understanding of relevant historiography and the contribution that their research will make

4. Have established a practice of regular and productive writing

5. Be able to edit and improve their own and others’ writing

Teaching Information

Please include reference to any distance learning or any significant e-learning components, if appropriate

Assessment Information

This unit will be assessed on a pass/fail basis through a mixture of formative and summative work. Students will peer-assess a series of (formative) writing tasks in action-learning groups (c. 3000 words) prior to submitting a (summative, marked by unit tutors) extended research outline(c. 2000 words), to include research questions, a bibliography, and an outline of the available sources. The research outline will address the students’ plans for either the MA dissertation, for a proposed postgraduate research degree, or for a research degree which is already underway. Where appropriate, it will help students prepare PhD funding proposals (MA students who wish to progress to a PhD), and upgrade materials (MLitt students).

Reading and References

Judith Walkowitz, ‘From Notes to Narrative: On Taking Notes’, Perspectives on History (January 2009).

Keith Thomas, ‘Diary’, London Review of Books, 10.6.2010.

Estelle Phillips and Derek Pugh, How To Get A PhD (5th edn,, 2010)

Joan Bolker, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes A Day (1998)

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life (2007)