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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2505 Archive Intelligence: Unlocking the Archive

20 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Dr Simon Quinn

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

FOAR2000Research Placement
HIST2560History on the High Street

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Archives are inspirational, yet to use them well requires specialist skills. This module gives you hands-on experience of working in archives, going through the whole process from discovering material, developing your ideas, to using what you have found. You'll have scope to define your own topic, combining your creativity and the records that have been left to us: you could uncover the histories of often marginalised communities, explore how people responded to political, social, and cultural events and trends, or draw upon your knowledge of other subjects to provide new insights into records. Working on collections held locally, this module provides support and training so that whatever your experience of archives you can take this module. You’ll find the module is excellent preparation for your final year project and your career, as it will develop important skills that you can re-use, such as how to run a project, working with a public organisation, communicate effectively with different audiences, alongside valuable insight into the heritage sector. The module is entirely assessed by coursework, and your final output will be a written piece about your chosen source(s) aimed at the public; with your permission, this may be published by the archives you worked with.


To provide students with hands-on experience of finding and using archival resources, and from this research present an independently conceived piece of historical writing based on a primary source or small selection of sources, aimed at a public audience. The module is orientated around the process of archival research, allowing the students to more fully develop and recognise skills that can be re-applied in different contexts both within their degree programme and outside it. The module also provides opportunities for students to experience the archive / heritage sector.

Learning outcomes
1. Construct and undertake a historical research project using material in archives
2. Discover, read, evaluate, and analyse archival primary sources
3. Recognise the problems inherent in the historical record itself
4. Employ appropriate techniques and styles to effectively communicate research findings to different audiences
5. Articulate and evidence the skills they have learnt and how they are relevant to their development and plans
6. Identify ethical and legal issues as well as broader responsibilities within their research

Skills outcomes
Using archive catalogues


The module combines both practical and theoretical elements across three broad areas:
- Understanding archives: discussions and reflection on what they contain and why, how they work, and how to use them
- Research process: identifying knowledge needs, sources and tools to establish context, approaching and using archival sources, project management, professional standards and behaviour (e.g. ethics, legal obligations)
- Preparation for the assessments

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Archival Sessions51.005.00
Independent online learning hours10.00
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will maintain an online journal of their archive experience ('Independent Online Learning')
Private study includes time for:
Set reading and other activities that are preparation for the workshops
Project research on relevant secondary sources, including building a bibliography, finding contextual information, and reading appropriate historiography
Preparation for the assessments
completion of project ethical review form and a project plan and timeline

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Throughout the module, students will maintain a learning journal, which the module team will review at least once a semester. This journal will form the basis for reflective review component of their portfolio. In semester 1, students will be required to complete a project plan and a module level ethical review form; these will be followed up by one-to-one meetings to discuss the students project and progress. In semester 2, the UGRE presentation offers a further opportunity for students to receive feedback on their progress.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioIncludes 1000 word research output, research notes and bibliography, 1500-word reflective review. Due 12 noon MOnday of semester 2 revision week.70.00
PresentationOutline of their research project30.00
AssignmentProject outline: project sumary and ethical review form due semester 1 week 11 as advised by tutor0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students will be given a choice of format for their presentation including a poster, verbal presentation, activity, or multimedia presentation. The project outline activity is required for the module to ensure compliance with research ethics, etc. policies, and as a marker when students should have decided on their source / topic. It won’t be graded per se but will inform their final portfolio and provides an important mechanism to monitor student progress. There can be a resit/alternative assessment if necessary of a piece of written work of 2000 words.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 19/08/2022


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