Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module HIST44015: Archives & Sources

Department: History

HIST44015: Archives & Sources

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to gain knowledge and understanding of the skills and methods appropriate to pursuing independent historical research at an advanced level, and to apply those skills and methods to a specified area of history.


  • Together with the complementary module on Critical Practice, this module introduces students to the key skills necessary for advanced historical research on any period. The module introduces students to developing appropriate research questions and strategies with respect to basic source material; understanding the nature of archive collections, printed and online bibliographies and searching techniques; an awareness of the nature and evolution of different types of archive; and an appreciation of some of the problems involved in using various types of sources. It will provide a broad understanding of the problems involved in applying any set of theoretical propositions to empirical evidence. In addition the module encourages the development of independent research skills by requiring the application of this knowledge to a specific field to produce a source commentary.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of the skills and methods appropriate to independent historical research
  • a knowledge and understanding of the advanced source commentary in a specified area of history
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
  • Seminars and group discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience, set reading of secondary and - where appropriate - primary readings, and information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of history. Individual supervision provides a forum in which ongoing work can be discussed in a focused manner with a subject expert, and in which the student is able to enhance their knowledge and understanding of a specialised field.
  • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience.
  • Assessment is by means of one written reports: a 2500 word source commentary requires the student to demonstrate abilities in gathering and assessing relevant information, and advanced knowledge and understanding of a specific historiographical area. Work must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
seminars 4 weekly 2 hours 8
individual supervision 2 fortnightly 1 hour 2
structured reading and essay preparation 140

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Source commentary 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments delivered orally and discussed in a group context; supervisor comments on a draft of each written report.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University