HIS42310 Introduction to Public History: Practicing Public History

Academic Year 2022/2023

History is not the property of historians. Historians have a duty to expand public access to historical research, knowledge and sources. This module introduces students to the ways in which historians engage with their audiences; how history is, and can be, disseminated; and the considerations that must be made when bringing history to a wider audience.

This module covers the dissemination and presentation of history across broadcast media, print, digital, exhibitions, tours, talks and other media. Students will be given the opportunity to apply their learning across these platforms through practical assessment. Through this the student will gain experience as a practitioner of public history.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:
• Understand the different media through which historians communicate
• Appreciate the conventions and considerations around each of these mediums
• Present history in accessible, robust, and innovative ways
• Deliver public history content across multiple and coordinated platforms
• Have a good working knowledge of core texts in historiography, theory and methodologies in history

Indicative Module Content:

Seminar list
1. Introducing Public History (Kelley)
2. Radio and television (Edwards)
3. An agenda for public history (Guldi and Armitage)
4. Primary source analysis: transcription, annotation, contexts
5. Managing historical data (Aydelotte)
6. Museums and the heritage sector (Winter)
7. Exhibitions: media and space (Carnegie)
8. Reading week
9. Publication: producing and writing public history (Carr)
10. Writing a funding proposal (Hirsch)
11. Metrics, impact, and legacy (Smith)
12. Overview: an agenda for Irish Public History (Hobsbawm)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group postgraduate seminar format module. In-class discussion of the module themes and readings form a key component of the module.

Within the two-hour seminar format, each week is generally broken down into one hour on the theory under consideration and one hour on the prescribed theoretical reading for each week.

The weekly seminar is focused upon individual active / task-based learning by means of class debates, discussion and student presentations.

Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through the written components of the module.

Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of the output media, theories, and readings under discussion each week.
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
Assignment: Taking one of the themes or concepts from the course readings, explore its applicability to your proposed dissertation topic.
3,000 words including footnotes but excluding bibliography.
Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Using a selected primary source document, provide an annotated transcription along with a scholarly introduction situating the manuscript in its historical context (1,000 words) and a bibliography Week 7 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?

Feedback on the mid-term assignment is given in writing on the returned hard-copy. Feedback on the end-of-semester assignment will be given by appointment in one-to-one meetings. It is the student's responsibility to book a post-module feedback session with the module coordinator.

‘Preface’ and Robert Kelley, ‘Public History: Its Origins, Nature, and Prospects’, The Public Historian, 1, No. 1 (Autumn, 1978), pp. 16-28.
2. R. Dudley Edwards, ‘An Agenda for Irish History, 1978-2018’, Irish Historical Studies, 21, no. 81 (Mar. 1978), pp. 3-19.
3. Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (Cambridge, 2014) (useful summary article here).
4. No readings for week 4 – document to be selected and introduced in class
5. William O. Aydelotte, 'Quantification in History', American Historical Review, 71, no. 3 (Apr. 1966), pp. 803-825
6. Jay Winter, ‘Museums and the Representation of War’, Museum and society, 10, no. 3 (Nov. 2012), pp 150-16.
7. Elizabeth Carnegie, ‘“It wasn’t all bad”: representations of working class cultures within social history museums and their impacts on audiences’, Museum and Society, 4, no. 2 (July 2006), pp 69-83.
8. Reading week – there are no set readings for week 8
9. E. H. Carr, What is History? (London, 1961), pp 87-108.
10. Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust (2012), excerpts.
11. Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: men, women, and historical practice (Harvard, 1998), pp 70-102.
12. Eric Hobsbawm, ‘Looking forward: History and the Future’ in Eric Hobsbawm, On History (London, 1997), pp 37-57.