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The University of Southampton

HIST3242 Reading Histories

Module Overview

The culmination of your history degree at Southampton will be the completion of your final year independent research dissertation (HIST3021 for History programmes or HIST3210 for Ancient History programmes). In this module you will learn how to apply the analytical and research expertise that you have been developing through your degree to your own individual research project and its conceptual framework. You will choose from a series of workshops according to the broad areas of historical interest that will inform your dissertation, chronological, geographical and thematic. You will work as a member of a group with a specialist workshop leader for each of the interest areas to explore the key literature and historiographical developments relevant to your field. You will be expected to engage critically with influential texts and you will be asked to review one of these texts for the first assessment. Your discussions will enable you to understand how the writing of history needs to be historicized and in particular to consider how this relates to the subject area that you intend to investigate in your dissertation. You will receive feedback on your research project through a presentation and a historiographical essay. The module is supported by a wide range of lectures and online materials; you are encouraged to engage widely with all the resources on offer to learn about the research process and how to be an historian, but you will also be able to identify and concentrate on those areas that will be most pertinent to your own research project.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • A range of historical debates and an awareness of how historiographical approaches develop.
  • How research questions have been formulated by the authors you are studying.
  • How to collate and analyse different types of historical sources.
  • The different theories and methods that inform your chosen research area.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and critically assess the work of a number of scholars related to the field of your proposed dissertation topic, and apply their ideas to your own research project.
  • Understand and deploy specialist historical terminology related to your research project in an effective manner.
  • Analyse how sources have been used by different historians, and how their methods may inform your own approach to sources.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and read critically materials in a range of formats.
  • Undertake individual research and present findings coherently.
  • Develop your time management skills in planning a research project.


Indicative lecture topics include: How do historians 'create' history? History and conflict History and politics History and gender History and culture History and religion Indicative workshops (organised by chronology, geography or theme) will include topics such as: Which writers have had the most influence on the field and why? How have sources been used in the different approaches taken by historians? What are the main 'silences' in your subject area? What are the main ethical/moral issues in your research area? What are the big historical controversies in your field? Indicative online resources (e.g., podcasts): What makes a good research question? How do you establish the boundaries of a research project? When have you done 'enough' research? How to use material evidence in constructing the past How to find your way around an archive.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching activities include: Workshops discussing key literature overseen by specialists Presentations on specific texts Lectures on interpretations, sources and methodologies Applying and utilising online resources relevant to your research area Palaeographic support or research training (if appropriate). Learning activities include: Preparing presentations on key literature in your specialist area of research Critically analysing different historiographical approaches in a workshop setting Engaging with appropriate sources for your research topic in specialist-led workshops Individual tutorials to help you devise and construct a framework for your research Peer support in the development of research and the interpretation of texts.

Guided independent study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J. Arnold (2000). History: A Very Short Introduction. 

J. Tosh (2015). The Pursuit of History. 

R. Marius & M. Page (2007). A Short Guide to Writing about History. 

M. Bentley (1999). Modern Historiography: An Introduction. 

W. H. McDowell (2002). Historical Research: A Guide. 

M. Abbott (ed.) (2008). History Skills: A Student's Handbook. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 60%
Presentation 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Repeat of module  ( words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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