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Unit information: History of the Present in 2021/22

Unit name History of the Present
Unit code AFAC10011
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Koole
Open unit status Not open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an introduction to a particular historical theme, and a sideways look at the practice of History. It examines how we can think about History not only as a narrative exercise, but also as a way of critiquing contemporary concepts and categories. History of the Present shows how the categories we think with, and even what we feel, are neither ‘natural’ nor pre-given but have histories. This unit therefore introduces not only a present-oriented history but, by showing the possibility of change for things normally taken for granted, also one which is future-oriented.

The unit is divided into two parts. The first part introduces a historical theme and the ways historians have drawn on other disciplines, such as literary criticism or human geography, to understand that theme. Possible themes include ‘selfhood’, ‘objectivity’, ‘perception’, ‘invention’, and ‘modernity’. The second part focuses on the history of that theme in different areas of life within the period specialism of the unit director. Focused around a study of primary sources, the second part of the unit therefore also introduces students to the history of the chosen period and the methodological challenges of studying the past through different source types.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify key historical trends of the unit theme.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the multiple disciplines historians draw upon to understand that theme.
  3. Critically analyse a variety of primary source types and explain the challenges associated with this analysis.
  4. Critically assess the uses of the past.
  5. Demonstrate a capacity for future thinking and intellectual risk through study of the past.
  6. Communicate with a specific, non-academic audience.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of short lectures, structured source analysis, collaborative writing exercises, and interactive seminar discussion. There will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities on which students will be expected to work independently, in pairs, and as seminar group participants. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. There will be opportunities for tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

One 1,500-word blog post, written in pairs (50%) [ILOs 1-6]

One 2,000-word summative essay (50%) [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. AFAC10011).

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.