BA Modern History with Economics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Back to the Future: The Uses and Abuses of History

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST21182
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module is focused on current affairs. It examines how history can be used to address problems in the contemporary world. Students will explore how knowledge about the past can be deployed to inform the development of policy responses to contemporary issues. The module will be delivered in conjunction with employers from sectors such as law, finance, marketing, media, NGOs, media, policy makers, government and heritage. Throughout the module, students will first be introduced to an historical case study, and then asked to use their understanding of this case study to help them develop an appropriate response to a problem faced by a particular employer in the private, public or third sector. The aim of the course is to develop core skills from your History degree and apply them to help resolve issues confronted in the working world.   


  • Develop core skills around historical research  

  • Gain an understanding of how historical knowledge and skill can be applied to problem solving  

  • Generate a template for understanding the transferable skills of your History degree and enhance employability 

  • Generate an environment for enhancing teamwork. 

Teaching and learning methods

1 x 2-hour workshop per week  

1 x 1-hour seminar  


In the 2-hour workshops, the students will make presentations to a panel of employers/external participants and course tutors on the case study material as a group every alternate week. Students will select one of these case studies as a basis for preparing their case study exercise 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a range of academic and transferable skills, including communicating ideas and arguments in written form, delivering presentations, group-work and independent research. 

  • Demonstrate self-confidence in a range of learning processes 

Intellectual skills

  • Present solutions to research problems clearly and effectively orally and in writing 

  • Place data and arguments effectively within their wider comparative context 

  • Understand the intellectual dynamic between past and present 

Practical skills

  • Develop solutions to problems using historical knowledge and research skills  

  • Work in a team to development effective solutions to chosen problems  

  • Address a range of contemporary issues from an historical perspective  

  • Present ideas in a workshop context 

  • Gain skills in making ‘elevator pitches’ to external employers 

  • Gain commercial awareness 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Analyse, evaluate and apply historical research to current affairs  

  • Develop and carry out independent research projects 

  • Problem solving  

  • Generate data for employers in response to commercial / economic change  

  • Communicate arguments through improved written and oral communication skills 

  • Work efficiently as part of a group 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
The ability to gather, organise and analyse data.
Oral communication
The ability to ask, and to answer, precise and incisive questions.
Problem solving
The ability to solve problems alone and / or as part of a team. The ability to present complex solutions to problems in concise, clearly directed ways.
The ability to process large quantities of information for relevant material.
Written communication
The ability to marshal information into a coherent and compelling argument, both in writing and orally.
The course is organised around the application of historical knowledge and research to solving a wide range of contemporary problems and is delivered in conjunction with core employers of History graduates. It is explicitly focused on developing `employability' skills and understanding: The ability to respond effectively to real life situations regarding economic, social or political change (`commercial awareness')

Assessment methods

Workshop Presentations (Formative)

Case Study Video Presentation (designed and delivered in conjunction with the University Careers Service) (Summative) 40%

Reflective Learning Journal (Summative) 30%

Case Study Essay (Summative) 30%

Feedback methods

Feedback method  

Formative or Summative 

Verbal feedback on Group Discussions and Workshop Presentations 


Written feedback on coursework submission via Turnitin 


Additional one-to-one feedback (during office hour or by appointment) 


Recommended reading

John Tosh, Why History Matters (2008) 

Jeremy Black, Contesting History: Narratives of Public History (2014) 

Paul Ashton and Hilda Kean, People and their Pasts: Public History Today (2008) 

Margaret Macmillan, Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History (2010) 

Suzannah Lipscomb and Helen Carr What is History, Now? How the Past and Present Speak to One Another (2021) 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sarah Johanesen Unit coordinator
Christopher Godden Unit coordinator

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