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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Introduction to Contemporary History (PGHC11362)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is the core course for the MSc in Contemporary History, which introduces students to the particularities of studying contemporary history. The course combines thematic and methodological approaches to the subject.
Course description This core course for the taught MSc programme in Contemporary History provides a general introduction to the advanced study of contemporary history and to some of the particular challenges posed by it. The course combines two elements. First, there are thematic sessions on broad, trans-national topics that are particularly relevant to contemporary history and that have generated debate in the relevant historiography, such as 'conflict, peace and reconciliation' or 'globalization, nationalism and transnationalism'. The second set of sessions addresses methodological issues that are particularly relevant to the study of contemporary history, including the potential and pitfalls of such uniquely contemporary material as online sources, oral history, film and sound documents.
The ultimate objective is to discuss the differences and similarities between contemporary history, other fields of history on the one hand and cognate disciplines, particularly those in the social sciences, on the other.
The course is team-taught by a group of colleagues working in the field of contemporary history. Therefore, the precise content of the sessions may vary from year to year, based on staff availability and research expertise, but the course's broad outlines and objectives remain the same.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Other Study Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 171 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) The research seminars tend to run for 1.5 hours and students are expected to attend at least two.
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Research seminar report, 750 words (20%)
Essay, 4000 words (80%)

For the 750-word research seminar report, students are expected to analyse and compare two research papers, one of which must have been presented at the Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History research group. The other can be from any of the various history research seminars.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning themes and methods in contemporary history
  2. Analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning definitions and methods of contemporary history, primary and secondary source materials, and conceptual discussions about contemporary history
  3. Develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
Geoffrey Barraclough, An Introduction to Contemporary History (1966)

Brian Brivati, Julia Buxton, and Athnony Seldon, eds., The Contemporary History Handbook (1996)

Peter Catterall, 'What (If Anything) is Distinctive about Contemporary History?', Journal of Contemporary History 32, 4 (1997): 441-52

Timothy Garton Ash, History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (2000)

Robert Gildea and Anne Simonin, eds., Writing Contemporary History (2008)

Jan Palmowski and Kristina Spohr Readman, 'Speaking Truth to Power: Contemporary History in the Twenty-First Century', Journal of Contemporary History, 46 (July 2011): 485-505

Kristina Spohr Readman, 'Contemporary History in Europe: From Mastering National Past to the Future of Writing the World', Journal of Contemporary History, 46 (July 2011): 506-530

Anthony Seldon, ed., Contemporary History: Practice and Method (1988)

Marc Trachtenberg, The Craft of International History: A Guide to Method (2006)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsIntroToContHist Introduction Contemporary History
Course organiserDr Justyna Turkowska
Course secretaryMr George Bottrell-Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
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