Not available in 2019/20
Historical Approaches to the Modern World

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Taylor Sherman SAR M.10


This course is compulsory on the BA in History and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available on the BSc in Politics and History. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

This course provides a foundation to allow first-year historians to come to grips with the many different ways in which historians pursue their craft. It is conducted on three levels: podcasts and group discussion sessions explore major themes in the history of the world over the last six centuries. These themes include: making sense of the international; modernity and globalisation; political structures; ideas and ideologies; resistance, violence and conflict; identities; the body and social life; migration and diaspora; space and scale; borders, oceans and environment. Small group skills sessions in Michaelmas term will provide students with practical workshops covering: navigating a reading list; taking notes; composing reading summaries; identifying & using historiography; approaching essay questions; developing an argument; structuring essays; footnoting and evidence; avoiding plagiarism; presentations. Finally, the course provides hands-on experience in the different methodological approaches used by historians in the Department. Small group classes on methods in Michaelmas and Lent terms will cover: critical approaches to the archive; objectivity and the historian; intention; agency; periodisation; primary sources; evidence and proof.


10 hours of classes and 10 hours of workshops in the MT. 10 hours of classes and 10 hours of workshops in the LT.

12-16 podcasts will be available permanently to students, and assigned to specific weeks throughout the term.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the Michaelmas Term and Week 6 of the Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT and 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Armitage, David, Alison Bashford, and Sujit Sivasundaram (eds), Oceanic Histories (2017).

Bentley, Jerry H., ‘Sea and Ocean Basins as Frameworks of Historical Analysis’, Geographical Review, 89, 2 (1999): 215-24.

Berger, Stefan, Heiko Feldner, Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing History: Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. (2010).

Briggs, Laura, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and US Imperialism in Puerto Rico (2002)

Burke, Peter, What is Cultural History?, 2nd ed. (2008).

Clavin, P. and G. Sluga (eds), Internationalisms:  A Twentieth Century History (2017).

Conrad, Sebastian, What is Global History? (2016).

Davis, Natalie Zemon, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France (1987).

Elmore, Bartow, Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (2014).

Jordanova, Ludmila, History in Practice, 3rd edition (2017).

Kelly, Marian Patrick, Sovereign Emergencies: Latin America and the Making of Global Human Rights Politics (2018).

Loughran, Tracey (ed.), A Practical Guide to Studying History: Skills and Approaches (2017).

McNeill, J. R., The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945 (2015).

Paine, Lincoln, The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (2013).

Presnell, Jenny (ed.), The Information-Literate Historian: A Guide to Research for History Students, 3rd ed. (2018).

Putnam, Lara, Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (2013).

Schlotterbeck, Marian, Beyond the Vanguard: Everyday Revolutionaries in Allende’s Chile (2018).

Stoler, Anne Laura, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (2010).

Tosh, John, Why History Matters (2008).

Tosh, John, The Pursuit of History:  Aims, Methods and New Directions in the Study of History, 6th ed. (2015).

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, 2nd ed. (2015).

Tsing, Anna, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015).


Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the MT.
Essay (35%, 2000 words) in the LT.
Take-home assessment (35%) in the ST.

The take-home essay will be unseen, 1500 words and to be completed within a specific number of hours. No footnotes or biliography will be required for this essay.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills