BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Independent Research Project

Unit code HIST20390
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module offers students the opportunity to pursue an individual research project, closely guided by a member of academic staff. Through a series of seminars in semester one students will gain the skills necessary to develop individual research projects - developing research questions and plans, identifying and exploring key bodies of literature and collections of primary sources, and writing literature reviews – before producing an extended piece of historical research on a topic of their choosing in semester two.


HIST20390 Level 2 Independent Research Project - available to History Programmes


Available on which programme(s)?

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; and joint-honours programmes with the History Department.

Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?


Available to students on an Erasmus programme


Pre/Co/Antirequisite units


Medium of language





Students will build on the skills gained during their first year of study by developing their skills as an independent researcher. Working within the broad area of expertise of their supervisor, students will explore how fields of study develop, as well as learning to identify and engage with broad intellectual debates. Using this knowledge students will learn to develop an independent research project that engages with existing debates but employs their own voice and ideas, and draws on a range of research materials. The module will develop skills that are widely applicable to the rest of their degree and beyond, and provide a foundation for the production of a dissertation at level three.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course you should be able to:

Teaching and learning methods

- One lecture and 6x1 hour seminars in semester one. Individual supervisions in semester two.

- All necessary materials for the module, including sections for each seminar tutor, will be on Blackboard, and the coursework will be submitted and returned via Tii.

- CUD and seminar tutors will hold regular office hours to support the course assessments, and will offer detailed feedback on assessments.

Knowledge and understanding

- Understand and engage with broad intellectual debates

- Explore and contribute to historiography on a selected topic

- Engage with a wide range of sources to build informed arguments

Intellectual skills

- Engage with historiographical debates at an advanced level

- Develop and plan individual research projects

- Present and defend differing intellectual positions during seminar debates

Practical skills

- Produce sophisticated literature reviews

- Produce essays that incorporate original research

- Prepare for and participate in wide-ranging seminar discussions and debates

- Work independently

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Carry out independent research projects

- Analyse and interpret a range of different sources

- Communicate sophisticated arguments through improved written and oral communication skills

- Work efficiently as part of a group through teamwork skills developed via discussion and seminar activities

Employability skills

The course provides a wide range of history based skills appealing to future employers including: - The ability to formulate and answer cogent and focussed questions - The analytical ability to consider complex problems to which there is no single solution - Identifying, gathering, sorting, organising and deploying evidence, data and information. - Analysing texts and other primary sources both critically and empathetically - Marshalling of argument in written and oral forms

Assessment methods



Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Review exercise


1000 words


Independent Research Project


4000 words









Assessment task


Independent Research Project

4000 words


Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on summative coursework via turnitin within 15 working days of submission


Oral feedback on progress, coursework, and seminar participation given during office hours





Recommended reading

Subject specific by tutor.

However, works of general utility include:


- Berger, Stefan., Heiko Feldner, Kevin Passmore, Writing History: Theory and Practice 2nd ed (London: Bloomsbury, 2010)


- Gildea, Robert, Anne Simonin, Writing Contemporary History (London: Hodder Education, 2008)


- Partner, Nancy, Writing Medieval History (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005)


- Storey, William Kelleher, Writing History: A Guide for Students 2nd ed (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)


- Tosh, John, The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions in the Study of History 6th ed (London: Routledge 2015)


- Walker, Garthine, Writing Early Modern History (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005)

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 200

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Thomas Tunstall Allcock Unit coordinator

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