Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Archival Inheritance
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment ​Documentary analysis  (1000 word report)  40%
Semester Assessment Evaluative report  (2000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment ​Documentary analysis  (1000 word report)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Evaluative report  (2000 words)  60%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Outline the history of the collection, use and management of archives in the UK.

2. Discuss the nature of archives and explain their value to present society.

3. Evaluate selected archival documents.

4. Explain the difference between primary and secondary sources.

5. Describe the functions of an archive service and the work of a professional archivist.

6. Identify and evaluate a range of relevant primary and secondary reading to support written work.

Brief description

The UK has one of the longest archival traditions, with our earliest record, Domesday Book, dating back to the eleventh century. This module will explore the history of the UK’s ‘archival inheritance’, examining the nature of its archival resources, the skills required to understand and interpret them, and the role and responsibilities of those who care for them.


This module is split into two distinct but related parts:

The nature of our archival inheritance

The first half of this module will focus on the nature of archives and their value to society. We will explore their role as primary sources and distinguish them from other types of recorded information. We will then examine the development of the archive system in the UK, and the range of repositories caring for archives. Consideration will be given to the skills required by users to understand and use archives, including traditional skills such as palaeography and how to evaluate archives as sources, including the place of fakes and forgeries.

Archive Services

The second half of this module will concentrate on the role of archive services and the professional archivist. Key themes that will be explored here include acquisition, preservation and conservation, and access and outreach. To reinforce the learning in this section we will also visit a local archive service to see how some of this theory works in a practical setting.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Effective oral communication will be required in seminars (not assessed) and written skills and style will be tested through assessment.
Improving own Learning and Performance Informal feedback on seminar work and formal feedback on assignments will facilitate student development.
Information Technology Searching and use of appropriate websites and social media is a significant component of this module.
Personal Development and Career planning This module has been developed for students who have an interest in archives and the archive profession and who may consider a future specializing in this area.
Problem solving The assignments and seminar work require consideration of the problems associated with the use of primary sources.
Research skills Students will need to use research skills to locate primary and secondary source material and on occasions to provide context for this material.
Subject Specific Skills The description, evaluation, and use of archival sources
Team work Some collaborative work will be required as part of preparation for seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 4