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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2710 Public Historians: Applied History, People’s History and the Uses of the Past

20 creditsClass Size: 28

Module manager: Iona McCleery

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Doing history ‘in public’ is something we all might do, whether that is working in a museum, sharing your family tree research, commemorating famous events, participating in a re-enactment fair, engaging communities in your academic studies, using the past as a resource in your activism, appearing on TV, advising a film producer, journalist or policy maker, writing a blog or wikipedia page, or designing a game set in the past. This module explores some of the global debates and theories around how to use the past (and whose past it is …) in different national contexts, and the several different meanings of the word ‘public’ in these debates. You will find out about people’s history, family history, history in the media and the disputed authority that museum curators, academic historians, and other experts claim over the past. You will also get an opportunity to apply your understanding of public history in a practical project, thereby becoming public historians yourself.


The aim of this module is to introduce students to global debates and theories related to the doing of all kinds of history in public. It is intended that students doing this module will gain both theoretical understanding and practical skills that may enable their own engaged research in the future and broaden their appreciation of the skills required to do different kinds of public history in a wide variety of employment and life experience contexts.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will have

Demonstrated an understanding of a variety of approaches to public history

Reflected on a variety of ways of doing public history in different national, social, political and chronological contexts

Critically analysed the uses of the past in popular culture

Applied their understanding of the methods and practices of public history in a practical format

Applied fundamental standards and practices of historical study for research, discussion, and assessed work.


Indicative topics in this module may include:

Debates about public history and heritage; people’s history; family history and genealogy; museums, libraries, archives; history in the media; uses of the past in popular culture; public history and academic history; commemoration; activism; practices and techniques of doing history in public; oral history

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours177.50
Total Contact hours22.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive individual feedback on their essay and case study. For the group work there is an unassessed project proposal that will provide the group with feedback and guidance. There will be a scheduled practical session based around the chosen projects as well as two group tutorials on the project at which a lot of feedback will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words due in week 740.00
PortfolioPortfolio consisting of one 1500 word case study (individual), a project proposal, one practical form of public history (group work), and one short individual report (max 500 words) on the experience of doing the project60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The practical project will be decided on by a group of students but with the advice and agreement of the module convener (who will need to ensure parity between the groups in terms of output): it could be a podcast, video diary, wikipedia page, online or physical exhibit or another format but whether and how it goes ‘public’ will be by consent of all the students involved and may occur after assessment has been completed. The individual report should reflect on the experience of team work, skills, leadership, individual roles, etc. The individual case study does not need to be on the same form of public history as the group project. The resit for the portfolio will be two 1500-word case studies worth 30% each on two separate forms of public history.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/05/2022


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