HIS32900 Questions in History

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module, as the title suggests, revolves around questions: questions that historians have asked about historical events and phenomena, questions that historians have asked about the aims of their own research, and questions that others have asked—and keep asking—about the work that historians do. Such questions range from abstract musings about the purpose of history-writing to practical questions, like choosing the best methods for researching particular themes. The lectures will draw on examples from different periods—antique, medieval, early modern, and modern—and our discussions will stretch across periods and geographical boundaries. We will of course examine what approaches historians applied to investigating various questions but we will also invite students to raise their own questions and to engage in what historians sometimes call 'problematising', or the practice of challenging received narratives and accepted conventions. We will be asking whether history is a science, how historical periods are constructed (periodisation), whether we can learn from history, to what extent events and phenomena are comparable across places, whether men have a different history from women, how historians work with other disciplines, how scientific the discipline of history is, who owns history, and why should we study history in the first place. Whatever your interest in history is, the module will give you a deeper insight into the historian’s craft and enrich your understanding of the approaches and methods that you may wish to apply. This module significantly reinforces work done in level 3 10-credit modules and dissertations, and also provides a valuable springboard to postgraduate study.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Students will develop critical thinking skills, advanced writing skills, presentation skills, and research skills. They will deepen their knowledge about historiography and approaches to historical research. Through an investigation of broad questions concerning the practice and theory of the historian's craft, students will learn about conceptions of time, literary approaches to history, comparative history, global history, the objectivity and subjectivity of history, and the challenge of classifying history as a science. By engaging with existing historiographical debates and by rehearsing debates in class, students will gain confidence in mixing and matching different approaches to investigate different questions.

Indicative Module Content:

1. What do we choose to remember and what to forget?

2. Is history a science?

3. What is time?

4. Is history a story?

5. Why do historians compare?

6. Can history be objective?

7. Are humans the only agents of human history?

8. Why do we need historians?

9. How different is women's history from men's history?

10. Whose history is it?

11. How far is global?

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module consists of a weekly one-hour lecture and a bi-weekly one-hour seminar. The weekly lectures provide an introduction to the week's theme. The seminar is premised on active, task-based learning as well as group work. The focus in the seminars will be on interpreting historical sources in which students apply critical thinking and develop their independent learning skills by preparing responses to the weekly readings. There is an emphasis on autonomous learning and developed through student-led class discussion and debates focused on central issues on the historiography that enhances problem-based learning. Research skills, critical thinking, advanced academic writing skills, and citation conventions, are developed through the final essay. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Reading Journals or equivalent Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Active informed participation in class Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Final essay at the end of the module. Week 12 n/a Graded No


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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Assoc Professor Roy Flechner Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Michael Staunton Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Sofya Anisimova Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 12:00 - 12:50
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 2 Week(s) - 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 Tues 15:00 - 15:50
Seminar Offering 3 Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11 Tues 15:00 - 15:50
Seminar Offering 4 Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11 Tues 16:00 - 16:50