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History Department course units

Foundation course units

Foundation courses (value: half unit) are taken at Level 1 and are designed to introduce students to skills and methods of approach used in the study of History at university level. They cover a range of periods from ancient to modern, a variety of geographical areas, and different types of history and related studies.

Term one course units

Term two course units

Gateway courses (Term 1 and Term 2)

Gateway courses (value: one unit) are taken at Level 1. They cover broad sweeps of history and are designed to open vistas into areas defined chronologically, or thematically, or both. The options are:

You may substitute a half unit in Latin or a whole unit in modern languages, or take a course in another discipline approved by the Senior Tutor for First Year Studies. 

The course unit structure for second-year BA History (V100) students from 2017-18 is as follows:

Group 2 (see Group 2 tab for descriptions) (year long)

Term one

Any three 'Group 1' courses from the Term one choices

Term two

HS2300: Independent Essay

Group 1 from 'Basket A' options

Group 1 from 'Basket B' options

Group 1 Courses

Precise details about group 1 courses on offer, and basketting arrangements, are advertised on a Year-by-Year basis.

NB:  Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are attached to other Group 1 courses, which must be taken as a pre-requisite.

Optional Latin:

Group 2 courses

Group 2 courses (value: one unit) are studied at Levels 2 and 3 (year 2 or 3 for full-time students). They are more limited than Group 1 courses in chronological/geographical range, allowing a more intensive study. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) may only be selected as first or second preference.


The course unit structure for third-year BA History (V100) students is as follows:

Group 3 course (options listed below) (year long)

Group 3 dissertation (year long)

Group 2 (please see Group 2 tab) (year long)

Term one

Group 1 (to be chosen from Term one options)

Terms one and two

HS3106: Historiography

Group 3 Courses

Group 3 courses (value: two units) are taught at Level 3. Group 3 courses are based on the study of primary sources, and normally involve the intensive investigation of a short period of time from a particular angle. One unit of assessment relates to the taught course (see individual course descriptions for details); the other to a 10,000 word dissertation based on primary sources. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) may only be selected as first or second preference.



The undergraduate programme is assessed in a number of different ways. There are two main types of assessment

  • formative assessment, which seeks to evaluate coursework and to encourage your further development at the same time; and
  • summative assessment, which provides a formal and official grade for the purpose of your final degree result.

Formative assessment takes place mainly through the marking of essays. In your essay work you are expected to demonstrate in an integrative fashion all the skills which you are being taught. You will find, however, that certain courses emphasise particular skills. Some, for example, require you to show profound and accurate understanding of the perspectives of cultures and times very different from your own; others will require you to analyse and evaluate primary source material; while on others again the use of information technology to answer questions about historical data is accorded particular significance. Most courses will require you to learn a range of skills as set out in their course programmes.

All formative essays must be of a passable standard, otherwise you will not have fulfilled the requirements of the course and a recommendation will be made to the sub-Board of examiners that you are awarded the mark of Incomplete for the course.

The length of essays varies. Coursework essays for the First-Year 'Gateway' courses are normally no more than 2000 words in length whilst those for Group 1 and 2 courses are normally 2000-2500 words in length. The Year 2 Independent Essay is 5000 words long and forms a half-unit. The longest essay is the 10000 word dissertations which form one unit of the two-unit Group 3 course.

Tutors are committed to mark and to return written work (which is submitted on time and as part of formative assessment) within two weeks where possible. If an essay has not been returned then you should remind the tutor. Essays are returned in class or left in your pigeon hole in the Common Room (McCrea323). They are not returned through the Departmental Office.

In the course of each academic year you will receive reports on your progress. Written feedback is provided on your essays and at the end of the academic year you will receive a report for each of your courses. This will evaluate your progress overall and assess your development in a variety of skills, e.g. quality of written work, oral contributions, time management. This final report should be collected from your Personal Adviser at the end of the Summer Term.

Summative assessment is provided in two ways: by written examinations at the end of each academic year in each of the courses you are taking, and by oral presentations on some of your courses. Some first year courses are examined by a combination of both coursework and examination. First-year marks do not contribute towards the final degree, nonetheless, you need to pass three out of four units to progress to year two.

Written examinations afford you the opportunity to show not only your knowledge and understanding but also such life-skills as the ability to express yourself in clear, well-informed prose under pressure. Group 1 and 2 courses are assessed by means of an examination paper, composed, in effect, of essays written to time; Group 1 courses also involve the assessment of an oral presentation. Group 3 papers are assessed by a three-hour examination which contains essay questions and a compulsory gobbet question; a 10,000-word dissertation; and an oral presentation. The dissertation provides you with the opportunity to show your capacity to use primary sources to construct an extended historical argument.

You are advised that work submitted for summative assessment must be handed in by the submission deadline. In the case of any difficulty the Departmental Administrator should be contacted. Any assessed essay/dissertation that is handed in after the given deadline unless there are extenuating circumstances, (e.g. of a medical nature, which must be documented, normally in advance of the submission deadline), will be penalised as follows:

  • for work submitted up to 24 hours late, the mark will be reduced by ten percentage marks, subject to a minimum mark of a minimum Pass;
  • for work submitted more than 24 hours late, the maximum mark will be zero.

In the case of extenuating circumstances the penalty will not apply provided the work is submitted by the agreed date.



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