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Unit information: Environment and History in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Environment and History
Unit code HISTM0078
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Adrian Howkins
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

What is Environmental History? When and why did the field emerge? How has it changed over time? In what ways is it practiced differently in different parts of the world and by historians of different time periods? These are some of the central questions that will be addressed in this unit on the historiography of environmental history. It will pay particular attention to debates that have taken place among environmental historians and will consider some of the different methods and approaches that have been used. The unit also addresses questions about the relationship of environmental history to other areas of historical research and to other academic fields, thinking about the challenges of collaborative research. Through extensive reading and seminar discussions the unit will provide a strong grounding in the field of environmental history and demonstrate the numerous opportunities that exist for bringing ‘the environment’ into our understanding of change over time.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a knowledge of the wide range of approaches and methods that can be included within the field of environmental history.
  2. Articulate underlying epistemological and ideological differences that have led to disagreements among environmental historians.
  3. Identify opportunities for applying insights from environmental history to other fields of historical research.
  4. Make connections between the development of the field of environmental history and wider historical trends.
  5. Construct a persuasive historiographical argument using evidence from secondary sources appropriate to level M.

Teaching Information

One two-hour weekly seminar

Assessment Information

One 5000-word essay (100%). [ILOs 1-5].

Reading and References

Ramachandra Guha, The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya (1989)

John F Richards, The Unending Frontier 'An' Environmental History of the Early Modern World (2006)

Diana Davis, Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa (2007)

Dorothea Branz (ed.), Beastly natures: animals, humans and the study of history (2010)

Emily Wakild, Revolutionary Parks': Conservation, Social Justice and Mexico’s National Parks, 1910-1940 (2011) Andrew Isenberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History (2014)