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HIST426: Digital Humanities

Available as audit module 2014/15

Course Convenor: Professor Ian Gregory

This unit provides a basic introduction to ways in which digital technology can be employed to enhance research methodology. The first half of the course explores the potential of spreadsheets and databases, particularly Microsoft Excel, and demonstrates how they can be used to analyse and present historical information. No prior experience of computing is required or assumed. It utilises a variety of existing datasets, compiled by staff and students based on major sources for (largely) British history. As such is it also intended to enhance awareness of the location, structure, uses and limitations of categories of some primary sources.

Students are encouraged to identify sources relevant to their own areas of interest to develop in their assignments. The second half provides an introduction to GIS (Geographical Information Systems) which enables data to be mapped spatially, enabling patterns and distributions to be displayed and analysed.

We will also have a brief look at how computers structure texts.

Taught: Michaelmas Term

Assessment: 1) Spreadsheet and Database Assignment (including commentary), 2) GIS assignment. Students are encouraged to find datasets and materials relevant to their own interests.

Core Reading:

  • Pat Hudson, History by Numbers (London: Edward Arnold, 2000).

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