HIS42690 Delving into the Archives

Academic Year 2023/2024

Why do we have National Archives? And why are certain archival collections prioritised for preservation in national archives? How does an archivist mediate the record to users through decisions around preservation, digitalisation, cataloguing and access? How does archival practice reflect broader power structures around gender, race, ethnicity, and class? how do these practices impact the type of histories we write and, whose history is told? If repositories prioritise textual sources, how can we access the histories of people with dominant oral traditions and cultures? And how can we access the voices and histories of the marginalised, peoples whose voices are mediated in official/state sources? In exploring these questions, students will examine the critical theories and ideas around archival construction and the materials that we use for historical research. They will work with specific collections in UCD Archives and RCPI. This module will be of particular relevance to students taking the MA in Irish History and the MA in History of Health and Welfare in Society.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module students should:
a) have developed study, writing and communication skills appropriate to level 4.
b) have developed a critical understanding of the topic as part of broader changes in society through writing essays and participation in seminars.
c) be able to assess a range of historical and inter-disciplinary approaches within the discipline.
d) be able to handle historical sources, and to evaluate a range of primary sources and their potential use to historians appropriate to level 4.

Indicative Module Content:

Seminar topics may include:
Welcome and Introduction
Archives, Nationhood and Sovereignty
Medical History and Archival Collections
Religious and Care Institutions
Archives and Censorship
Oral History and ‘Witnessing’: Theory and Practice
Traveller Community: Inclusions and Exclusions
Race and the Archival Curation
Invisible Histories: Gender Perspectives
Radical Empathy? Archives and Activism
Historians and Archival Tools

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


Project Supervision


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group, seminar-based module. It is taught through a two-hour weekly lecture seminar. The weekly seminar is focused upon individual active / task-based learning by means of class debates, discussion and student participation and presentations. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through a combined individual student presentation on primary sources and essay writing. Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of set primary sources and / or student presentations 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 In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Learning journals and participation in class discussion Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Presentation: A 10-minute presentation Week 7 n/a Graded No


Essay: Final project/essay (4,000) Coursework (End of Trimester) 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, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Participation: Group/class feedback in week 2 and written feedback individually to students in week 5 and 8/ Presentation related to final essay : Feedback individually to students, post-assessment on a plan prior to summative assessment Peer review activities: peer reviewing other students work against descriptive criteria on a rubric Final Essay:Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

Name Role
Dr Elizabeth Mullins Lecturer / Co-Lecturer