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Foundations of History


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How do historians ‘do’ history?

This question is at the core of this fascinating short course, Foundations of History, taught by two of our leading European historians. In the first half of the course we survey the ‘history of history’ from the Ancient Greek writer Herodotus through to postcolonial approaches of the twenty-first century. Join us as we explore the various schools of history and the sources historians have drawn on, including official reports, diaries, letters, newspapers, oral evidence, paintings, cartoons, music, film, architecture, archaeological remains and the web.

In the second half of the course we look in depth at four ‘great works’ of history, from Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) to Alessandro Portelli, The Order Has Been Carried Out: History, Memory, and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome (2003). Here you will sharpen your deep-reading skills and develop a critical awareness of the contexts and controversies surrounding important works of history.

Throughout the course we place a special emphasis on looking at European history from a global, comparative perspective, investigating the tools and techniques used by historians and the assumptions and approaches they have adopted in their interpretations of the past. As part of this course, you will be able to sit in on classes on our core MA module, Mastering Historical Research. 

Foundations of History is suitable for anyone with a passion for history and also for the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) needs of teachers in secondary education keen to extend their skills. It is also ideal preparation for MA level study.

The course will provide you with:

  • intellectual insights into the writing of history
  • appreciation of the development of different historical ‘schools’ and current and past debates in history
  • practical experience in research methods in history.

Assessment is via two 2500-word essays (25% each) and a 48-hour seen examination (50%).

30 credits at level 6

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    This Foundations of History course is taught at intermediate level equivalent to second- or third-year undergraduate-level teaching. To engage fully, you should have some previous knowledge of the subject and/or study at this level.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.