HIST401: Researching and Writing History

Available 2017/18

Course Convenor: Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird

Teaching: Michaelmas Term

This module is intended to provide students with practical help in the conceptualisation and execution of their research so that they can present a dissertation that meets the required standard at the conclusion of their MA. Topics for discussion will include:

  1. the qualities of a successful dissertation;
  2. assessing the ‘state of play’ in a particular field of historical inquiry so that you can place yourself at its cutting edge;
  3. how to formulate viable research questions and/or working hypotheses;
  4. compiling a research bibliography, including how to locate primary sources which are relevant to your research;
  5. how to manage the collection of data with the help of modern information technology;
  6. how to organise your dissertation, including how to develop a coherent argument;
  7. when and how to start writing;
  8. effective writing;
  9. the use and abuse of footnotes;
  10. how to present your dissertation.

The teaching will be conducted through practical exercises and class discussions of each others’ work.

Assessment: Since the principal learning outcome of this module is to ensure the feasibility of students’ MA dissertation topics, it will be assessed by a written feasibility study, which will include an annotated bibliography of secondary sources and a list of primary sources. Students will also be give an oral presentation on their research which will contribute to their final mark.