Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Research Methods and Professional Skills in History
Academic Year
Available semesters 1 and 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 11 x 1 hour seminars 5 x 30-minute individual tutorials with thesis supervisor
Practical 1 x Writing Workshop (3 x 1 hour seminars) 1 x MA Conference (6 hours) Attendance at four departmental research seminar papers also required ( 4 x 1 ½ hrs)
Seminars / Tutorials 11 hours seminars 2 1/2 hours individual thesis supervisor tutorials 3 hours writing workshop attendance 6 hours MA Conference attendance 6 hours research seminar attendance c. 170 hours independent study and assignment preparation


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the role and working practices of the academic historian (including career paths in history) and the progress and dissemination of historical research both inside and beyond the academy.

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the key challenges (both methodological and practical) in conducting independent historical research and an ability to integrate them into their own research.

Devise, plan and conduct research on their own independent research project (the MA thesis)

Communicate the key elements of their research project both orally and in written form.

Brief description

Academic rationale of the proposal:
The module is designed to mark the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study in history, in two specific ways. First, it encourages students to reflect on the role and working practices of the academic historian, on how scholarly debate and understanding in the field of history progresses, and on career paths in history in academica and beyond. Second, it provides guidance on the design, planning and practical execution of a substantial research project in dissertation form (ie the student’s own MA thesis). The module is designed so that the student will have an MA thesis topic clearly in place and research proposal written before the end of semester 1, will have completed at least one chapter by the end of semester 2, and will be thoroughly equipped to progress confidently with their MA thesis over the summer and bring it to successful completion it by the end of the session.

Brief Description:
The module, which is delivered ‘thin’ throughout the academic session, begins by addressing the role of the academic historian, and dissemination of historical scholarship both inside and outside the academy. It then focusses on questions of research design, planning and execution in relation to the students’ own developing MA thesis projects, taking students through the preliminary design and planning process and assigning supervisors in semester 1, and then providing a structured timetable of supervisions, early draft written work deadlines, and an assessed oral presentation in semester 2.

Semester 1 (weekly meetings)
1. Approaching historical research (1 hour whole-class seminar)
2. Participating in the historical research community (1 hour whole-class seminar)
3. Beyond the academic research community (1 hour whole-class seminar)
4. Selecting a field of research (1 hour whole-class seminar)
5. Primary sources and where to find them (1 hour seminar to small groups split by research interest)
6. Secondary literature; compiling a bibliography (1 hour whole-class seminar)
7. Managing a research project (1 hour whole-class seminar)
8. Writing a research proposal (1 hour whole-class seminar)
9. First meeting with dissertation supervisor (30-minute individual meeting)

Semester 2: (weekly meetings)
1. Planning a structure for the dissertation (1 hour whole-class seminar)
2. Second meeting with supervisor (30 minute individual meeting)
3. Writing a literature review (1 hour whole-class seminar)
4. Third meeting with supervisor (30 minute individual meeting)
5. Writing and presenting a conference paper (1 hour whole-class seminar)
6. Fourth meeting with supervisor (30 minute individual meeting)
7. Writing Workshop (3 x 1-hour seminars, timetabled for one full morning or afternoon)
(week’s break)
8. MA Conference (all day: 6 hours)
9. Fifth meeting with supervisor (30 minute individual meeting)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Through understanding of statistical and other numerical data as required
Communication Through seminar discussion, essay writing, and oral presentation. Latter two formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance By guided reflection during seminars and feedback sessions following submission of written work.
Information Technology Through data retrieval exercises for research purposes and word-processing for essay writing purposes.
Personal Development and Career planning Through furthering understanding of the role and working practices of the academic historian (including career paths in history).
Problem solving By understanding how historians approach research; by devising, planning and beginning work on own project.
Research skills By learning how to identify appropriate primary and secondary sources, by critical assessment of the methodological and practical challenges associated with that material; by conducting own research.
Subject Specific Skills By developing and enhancing key research skills appropriate to postgraduate research in history
Team work Through seminar work.


This module is at CQFW Level 7