ARCV40040 Archives and their Users - Advocacy and the Archives Gateway

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module focuses on how archives are used and made available, and how the archivist engages with this process, from the provision of access to archive collections to proactive and innovative outreach activities. It examines the main ways in which archives are experienced: in the research room, physical and virtual exhibitions, websites, social media and and educational projects. The module considers the impact of new technologies in transforming the ways in which archives can be communicated to, and enjoyed by, wider audiences. It also considers the evolving dynamic between archivist and user, with an increasing emphasis on community engagement, user participation, oral history, and concepts such as the ‘citizen archivist’. It highlights the need for policies, standards and evaluation in the interaction between the archivist and the user and introduces some of the theoretical discussions around access and use, including concepts such as archival intelligence and trauma informed approaches to archives.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:
• Formulate best practice procedures for running a research room
• Demonstrate the potential of the web and social media to enhance and develop user services and widen access
• Recognise the ways in which archives can engage with communities and encourage less passive user experiences, particularly
in the context of oral history projects.
• Be aware of the main challenges that can be encountered in the provision of access to archive collections
• Develop an awareness of the experience of using archives as a researcher

Indicative Module Content:

The module will cover the following broad areas:
Week 1 Definitions of access and outreach, perceptions of the user; Week 2 Providing services for users - the research room procedures and services; Week 3 Framing access policies, restrictions and regulations; Week 4 Archives in times of war and conflict; Week 5 Displaced archives; Weeks 6 & 7 Oral history: theory and practice; Week 8 Non-textual archives: Intangible cultural heritage (ICH); Week 9 Developing an online presence; Week 10 Exhibiting archives - physical and virtual; Weeks 11 & 12 Broadening outreach - educational initiatives, community engagement, community archiving.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Small Group


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group module. It is taught through a two-hour weekly seminar. Each seminar, some of which feature contributions from guest lecturers, provides an overview of the week’s topic, focusing upon different aspects of providing access to archives, e.g. the development of access frameworks, managing the on- site and online research room, exhibitions etc. There is a focus upon individual active / task-based learning by means of class discussion, group work and in-class exercises. Advanced skills are developed through a focus on the experience of the user of archives, the evaluation of various outreach activities and planning the provision of services. Autonomous learning is advanced through ongoing assignments.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Archives and their Users (HIS40040)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Assignment linked to research as a user of archives. Week 7 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Assignment Week 12 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

individual feedback on the assignments is given in Brightspace. General feedback is given in class and also by appointment if requested by individual students.

Name Role
Mr Michael Reilly Lecturer / Co-Lecturer