BA History and American Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Long Essay

Course unit fact file
Unit code AMER20022
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The US History Long Essay provides an opportunity to research and write about a substantial and exciting topic in US historical scholarship based on archival materials. This is a module that trains you to work independently with some of the unique primary and archival collections held around the city of Manchester relating to the United States. The module will guide you to develop an interpretation of your sources in conversation with relevant and recent US historiography, and it offers an opportunity to build and sustain an historical argument over a longer piece of research and writing.


  • To show students how to identity and work with archival and primary collections
  • To enable students to formulate good historical questions
  • To develop students’ abilities to research their chosen topic in order to meet the demands of an extended piece of written work
  • To encourage students to identify and evaluate a relevant historiography, and to establish their own historical arguments in conversation 
  • To encourage students to develop their ability as historical writers 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, successful students should be able to demonstrate:

  • Ability to work knowledgably and confidently with archival collections
  • Ability to manage an independent and extended piece of research, including the identification of relevant secondary materials
  • An advanced grasp of the relevance of historiography in shaping historical interpretation
  • Improved skills of historical writing and argumentation

Teaching and learning methods

One preliminary briefing; three workshops;  three personal supervision meetings.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
On this unit students are encouraged to respond imaginatively and independently to the questions and ideas raised by texts and other media.
Project management
Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively.
Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
Written communication
Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.

Assessment methods

Archival and Historigraphical Report 15%
Long Essay 85%


Feedback methods

Students are expected to attend the preliminary briefing meeting before the Christmas vacation, and to select one of the archival collections. They will be helped in this decision by both academic colleagues and the relevant library staff.

Students will produce a 350-word project proposal in advance of the module’s commencement. This is a formative assignment, and they will receive brief written feedback on their submission.

The Archival & Historiographical report will be submitted through Tii, and students can expect written feedback on the exercise. In addition the assignment will be discussed with students at their first supervision.

The final dissertation will be marked on Tii, with written feedback.

Recommended reading

Given the nature of this module, the course bibliography will change from year to year, dependent upon the selection of archives/ collections. The following works may be helpful for students to consult prior to the module’s commencement:

Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History (pb edition, 2001)

Ludmilla Jordanova, History in Practice (2017)

Nicolas Barreyre, et al eds., Historians across Borders: Writing American History in a Global Age (2014)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Project supervision 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 196

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Fearnley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This unit is  a core course only open to students on BA (Hons) History and American Studies

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