- ARCHIVE as at 1 September 2013 for reference only

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Historical Research: Skills & Sources (online) (PGHC11378)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe first core course for the taught MSc in History (online) aims to provide the technical skills and interpretive strategies to locate and assess primary historical material, particularly online. It will provide an introduction to graduate-level study in history and provide students with the opportunity to enhance their skills in historical research. Students will be made familiar with the range of online primary source databases available to them as students at the University of Edinburgh, and also how to search for further material online.

Taught through a combination of podcast lectures, source-training pathways, online skills workshops and virtual presentations. Students will be encouraged to focus on those archival materials and primary source databases that suit their individual research interests, which should anticipate the research required for successful completion of the MSc dissertation.

This training course will also provide instruction in critical use of online search materials, instructions on how to approach archival research, and effective use of database software. Finally the course will provide an introduction to the historical profession, including peer-review and professional modes of disseminating historical knowledge.

This course complements the 'Approaches to History' core course offered in the second semester on the online MSc in History.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 4, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12, Online Activities 8, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 170 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. This course aims to provide first-year graduate students with the key research skills that professional historians require. These include:-
- the knowledge to define the primary and secondary materials appropriate to their fields of research;
- the practical skills to access these materials, either online or on-site (close to the students) in the mandatory local history pathway;
- the interpretative abilities to evaluate historical evidence and to engage critically with existing research.
2. Secondly, this course will prepare students to employ those transferable skills essential to conducting research and for disseminating research findings, including:
- designing a research project at the MSc level that makes effective use of primary historical evidence and secondary sources;
- experience with generating and presenting oral and written arguments in a range of professional academic settings;
- 'Hands-on' training in locating, describing, and making meaningful analytical use of primary historical documents;
- effective use of interactive electronic materials and related technology, including bibliographical software and databases.
3. After completing the course, students will be able to:
- demonstrate a meaningful familiarity with the essential documentary resources within virtual repositories that enable historical research at a graduate level;
- exhibit an understanding of different conceptual approaches for the study of history;
- analyse and contextualise primary source material;
- arrive at independent, well-argued, well-documented and properly referenced conclusions in their coursework essay;
- demonstrate their skills in group discussion, collaborative exercises (such as with wikis or group essays) and oral presentations;
- demonstrate their writing, analytical, and theoretical skills in coursework;
- demonstrate their ability to reflect on the reading and research they have undertaken and provide feedback for their peers.
Assessment Information
One 1,000 word source review (20%) and one 2,500 word essay (80%). The use of two pieces of writing, rather than one, is a change from usual past practice in History, as is the requirement of a source review assignment. It is hoped that the feedback provided from the first assignment will prove useful to the students who will be able to take on board any feedback before undertaking the 2,500 word essay.

The 2,500 word essay will be connected with one of the primary source pathways taken by the students. Students will provide a critical case-study of the historiography associated with a primary source or research collection chosen by the student, under the direction of the Pathway instructors who will provide further information about essay requirements. Students will also meet with the course organiser over Skype in week 10 both to discuss the 1,000 word primary source review and to approve the choice of topic for the essay by the student.

Both pieces of work will be submitted via TurnitIn on Learn and marked using Grademark. Online versions of the postgraduate essay feedback form will be employed on the course.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus The teaching will be given via three two-hour podcast lectures, two two-hour Blackboard Collaborate synchronous seminars and 12 hours of moderation of discussion boards by the course organiser and the pathway tutors.

This 11-week course provides an introduction to the advanced study of history at postgraduate level through an introduction to research sources and skills by introducing MSc students to the School's research culture and the resources provided online via the Main Library and the School. Therefore this course will consist of six parts:

Three two-hour pre-recorded Lectures (week 1, 2 & 11)
- an introduction to the advanced study of history
- an introduction to the University Library's online primary source databases and the effective study of history online
- Structure, Style and Assessment of Historical Research (looking forward to the MSc dissertation)

Skills Workshops (week 4):
- students will choose two from four available skills workshops

Asynchronous seminars (week 2, 3 & 10):
- writing history: combining primary and secondary sources (week 3)
- seminar discussions based on the material covered in weeks 2 and up to 5 pathways

Synchronous seminars:
- the study of history online (week 4)
- approaching and choosing a research topic in history (week 11)

Primary source-interpretation pathways (weeks 6-9):
- Students will study one compulsory four-week pathway in Local history organised and taught by Dr Mark Nixon (three teaching sessions and one session where students will present their findings (non-assessed and either orally or poster))
- Students will also choose one three-week pathway from a choice of up to five; each led by an academic member of staff (details below under 'provisional schedule'). Each pathway will discuss primary sources and expository historical writing covering the expertise of the pathway tutor

Asynchronous forum discussions will include front-loaded screencasts or podcasts of short 10-minute lectures introducing the topics to be discussed over the course of the week's seminar. All primary source material discussed in both synchronous and asynchronous seminars will be provided electronically by the course organiser and pathway tutors via Learn.

In addition to this there will be two half-hour virtual office slots provided per week via Skype by the course organiser.
Transferable skills The study of the past gives students a unique understanding of the present that will enable them to succeed in a broad range of careers. The transferable skills gained from this course include:
- understanding of complex issues and how to draw valid conclusions from the past
- ability to analyse the origins and development of research skills in history
- a command of bibliographical and library- and/or IT-based online and offline research skills
- a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
- ability to question and problematize evidence; considering the relationship between evidence and interpretation
- understanding of ethical dimensions of research and their relevance for human relationships today
- ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely, both orally and in writing
- ability to deliver a paper or a presentation in front of peer audiences
- ability to design and execute pieces of written work and to present them suitably, as evidenced by the final assessment essay of 2,500 words
Reading list Cohen, D. and R. Rosenzweig, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving and Presenting the Past on the Web (2007),
Bender, T. et al., The Education of Historians for the Twenty-First Century (2006),

Selected Electronic Sources
American Historical Association, Statement on Professional Conduct (2005);
AHA Resources for Historical Researchers
Archives Hub (holdings in UK universities)
Bibliography of British and Irish History (RHS)
British Library
Contemporary and Historical Census Collections
Copyright Status Information
Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
Internet Sources for History (IHR)
Library of Congress (Washington, DC)
Manuscript Sources for British History
National Archives (UK): Catalogues and Online Records
National Archives of Scotland
National Library of Scotland
National Union Catalog of Research Collections (Library of Congress)
Oral History Online
Scottish Registry of Archives
Statistical Account of Scotland
University Library Resources Portal
Virtual Visual Collections (Insight)

Numerous ebooks will be available to students through the databases 'Cambridge Histories Online', 'Cambridge Books Online' and 'Oxford Scholarship Online'.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr David Kaufman
Tel: (0131 6)51 3857
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2013 The University of Edinburgh - 10 October 2013 5:06 am