Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST1702: Making History

Department: History

HIST1702: Making History

Type Tied Level 1 Credits 40 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 250 Location Durham
Tied to V100


  • Normally an A or B grade in A-Level History, or an acceptable equilalent (e.g. in terms of Scottish Highers or lB).


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to a range and variety of historical approaches.
  • To provide a grounding for the key explanatory and interpretative skills expected at later stages of the programme.
  • To introduce students to the practice of researching and writing history by examining ways in which historians shape knowledge in particular areas.
  • To foster student independence through research-led teaching.
  • To enhance progression from Level 1 to Level 2 and, in particular, to provide a foundation for work on the Level 2 core module ‘Conversations with History’.


  • This module will enable students to develop more advanced study skills through working in a small, intensive seminar requiring extensive reading, discussion, and writing about problems of historical approaches in connection with defined historical themes and primary sources. In addition, each student will sign up to a particular strand in which particular research questions relating to particular periods and places will be considered.
  • The module will include:
  • staff-directed seminars specific to each strand considering the research questions defined by historians and the ways in which those historians have attempted to address these questions including their approaches to primary source material;
  • student-directed seminars requiring students to present aspects of their work-in-progress while they are developing their long independent projects in which they explore research questions and provide a critical analysis of approaches to these questions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of what is meant by a research question.
  • A critical understanding of the approaches developed by historians to research questions within the particular themes explore in each strand.
  • An understanding of the way in which work on primary sources relates to approaches to research problems.
  • An awareness and understanding of historians’ role in shaping historical knowledge and understanding.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/ and will include, in particular:
  • identifying and defining the research questions addressed by historians;
  • ability to explore the ways in which historians address historical problems going beyond the simple accumulation of knowledge;
  • ability to identify and to criticise conflicting historical interpretations;
  • planning and writing long, independent projects;
  • discussing and explaining their ideas in a small-group context;
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals;
  • Assessment:
  • Three summative pieces of writing make up the assessment for this module: a book review (max 1000 words); a source commentary (max 1000 words); an independent project (max 4000 words).These are designed to encourage students to reflect specifically on the range of materials used in writing History. They will also aid writing and thinking skills required at level 1 and later in the programme. The book review will encourage students to identify the key research questions behind a major work of historical scholarship. They will need to be aware of the research problems being engaged with, and hence the existing shape of the field; the specific themes and arguments of chapters; questions of the use of evidence; distinctive methodologies etc. The source commentary will permit students to demonstrate understanding of a range of themes including the context of the source, as well as its provenance; explanation and interpretation of content and ability to précis; awareness of shortcomings and problems. The independent project will bring together the specific skills studied as part of the core module, with the subject matter of the strand. Questions will be designed in consultation with the tutor, preferably in a specific seminar. In addition, students will give a summative oral presentation on an aspect of their independent research. This will aid oral communication skills, and make a formative contribution to their independent project.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 16 8 in term 1, 7 in term 2 1 hour 15
Meetings 1 1 hour of 1 to 1 meetings over 2 terms 1 hour 1
Preparation and Reading 384
Total 400

Summative Assessment

Component: Independent Project Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Independent Project 4000 words 100%
Component: Source Commentary Component Weighting: 15%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Source Commentary 1000 words 100%
Component: Book Review Component Weighting: 15%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Book Review 1000 words 100%
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 5-10 minutes 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative work will be done in and as preparation for seminars, including work such as short oral presentations, contributions to discussion in class and on discussion boards, or short pieces of written work as determined by strand tutors, aimed at helping students develop concise note-taking skills and the ability to identify central ideas behind historical scholarship. . There will also be formative benefits from the summatively assessed book review and source commentary leading up to the independent project.

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