Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Professionalisation of History
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials Introductory meeting plus 6 x 2 hour seminars plus tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment TWO ASSESSED ESSAYS OF 3,500 WORDS.  100%
Supplementary Assessment NEW ESSAYS OF 3,500 WORDS ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
Identify and critically analyse the primary historical sources relevant to the professionalisation and institutionalisation of history.

Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant historiography, its evolution and the key problems currently addressed by historians in this field.

Discuss the interpretative problems and prospects associated with this topic.

Illustrate, analyse and evaluate both primary sources and the associated historiography in an extended written discussion.

Brief description

The module begins by asking when, why and how History established a presence in universities as an academic discipline in its own right. It addresses the processes through which a disciplinary matrix was constructed, exploring the invention and the imposition of procedures and regulations which were to govern how histories were (and in important respects still are) made. Professionalisation, as the module will demonstrate, transformed the ways in which history was researched, written, published and taught. But it did so at different times in different countries, and in regions or even individual universities within those countries. How far did indigenous trends and traditions within each country promote the professionalisation of history? To what extent did one country's historical institutions and approaches to the study of the past serve as a model for others - for `late developers' in professionalizing history? In the nineteenth century, and for much of the twentieth century, professional historiography was deeply implicated in nation-building and nationalism. Yet, at least in some periods and for some purposes, historians also conceived of themselves as an international community, conducting a single `grand conversation'. The seminar programme reflects this tension, comprising a mixture of transnational themes and national case-studies.


This module builds on some of the themes and questions already opened up in the Core module for this MA scheme. It alerts students to the distinctiveness of the practise of history as a profession, both in relation to earlier historiographical traditions and in relation to amateur historiography, but also to ever-changing definitions of what it has meant to be a professional historian. It provides students with opportunities to apply some of the historical methodologies (notably comparativist method and the `cultural transfers' approach) with which they will already have become familiar through the `Skills and Sources' module. Finally, it is designed to provide an intellectual context for work on a range of kinds of Dissertation, including biographical studies of individual historians, studies of particular university history departments, and investigations of the histories of historical publications.


Introductory seminar, then 6 of the following:

1) The institutionalisation of History: the German model
2) Research Writing and Publication: the impact of professionalisation
3) Teaching and Training
4) Learning and unlearning from Germany: academic history in France, 1870-1945
5) Institutionalisation without professionalisation? History in Britain
6) Historiography in the USA
7) Nationalism and international communication in professional historiography
8) Academic History in the `Third World'

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Seminar discussion and essay-writing. The latter is formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Seminar and tutorial discussion; tutors' feedback.
Information Technology Locating source materials and surveying the historiography on the subject uses of various search tools. Essay-writing and presentation
Personal Development and Career planning Studying the module puts students in direct contact with librarians and archivists at the National Library and elsewhere in the course of researching the location of primary sources and the development of the historiography
Problem solving Students will be expected to identify and respond to historical problems and carry out appropriate research before the seminars and before writing essays. This will be assessed through essay writing.
Research skills Locating and assessing primary source materials. Assessed through the essays.
Subject Specific Skills Develop a knowledge of, and familiarity with, a range of different sources.
Team work Seminar work


This module is at CQFW Level 7