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Unit information: Practice-Based Dissertation (History) in 2020/21

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Unit name Practice-Based Dissertation (History)
Unit code HIST30129
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Jessica Moody
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims


The Practice-Based dissertation in History offers students the opportunity to communicate historical ideas and research through the design of a practical output intended for a non-academic audience (i.e. a public history project). Students will write a supporting reflective report (5000 words) setting out the project’s aims and objectives (how they responded to their project brief), the research process, and critical reflection on the design and production of their public-facing output in dialogue with relevant literature. The exact form an output takes will be developed in agreement with supervisors, but could be for example a walking tour, exhibition, podcast, teaching resource or play/performance.

Students will be supported through a combination of group-based workshops, group and one-to-one supervisions and talks/lectures.


This unit aims to enable students to identify historical topics of interest both to them and broader audiences and follow that interest through research and public-facing communication of academic content. Students will develop and demonstrate skills in research and knowledge, practical public-facing communication, and critical reflective practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, successful students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of a chosen subject
  2. Be able to reflect critically on their own practice and process of producing public history and public-facing history outputs in line with relevant literature
  3. Demonstrate an advanced proficiency in identifying and in forming their own questions
  4. Critically understand key issues in relation to public history and the communication/representation of the past in the present
  5. Display the ability to work with primary sources, demonstrating an awareness of the provenance and nature of those sources and how to draw reasoned and considered conclusions from them
  6. Work almost entirely independently in producing an extended piece of research with a public-facing output
  7. Be able to effectively identify appropriate audiences and communicate research to non-academic audiences through a well-chosen form/genre

Teaching Information

This unit will be taught with a mixture of individual and small-group supervision, supported with lectures.

Assessment Information

For this Practice-Based dissertation unit, students will receive an integrated mark for the two components: written report (5000 words) [ILOs 1-5] and practical output [ILOs 6-7] (100%).

Reading and References

Sayer, Faye. Public History: A Practical Guide. London: Bloomsbury, 2015

Cauvin, Thomas. Public History: A Textbook of Practice. London: Routledge, 2016

Kean, Hilda. The Public History Reader. New York: Routledge, 2013

Smith, Laurajane. Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge, 2006