HI6047 - Dissertation with Public History

What will I learn on this module?

In this module, you will be provided with the skills to complete a written dissertation and a public-facing output on a topic that you will agree with your supervisors. The dissertation with public history represents an opportunity to apply the skills you have acquired at earlier levels, as well as a chance to develop new skills, both theoretical and practical, associated with public history. In Semester One you will produce the written piece of work. This written piece, which can take the form of a ‘short dissertation’ or ‘extended essay’, may be an analysis of a discrete body of primary sources, a discussion of historiographical controversy, or an intervention in a current debate about the public understanding of the past. In Semester Two you will work with your supervisors to produce a public output (the ‘knowledge exchange’ component), such as a digital exhibition or public history podcast, based on your research for the short dissertation/extended essay. The knowledge exchange aspect may include work with an external partner. The ‘Dissertation with public history’ is an exercise in research and public engagement and is intended to develop your research and communication skills, as well as your ability to work independently. Topics will be supervised by two appropriate tutors, one with subject-specific knowledge, the second with knowledge exchange experience.

How will I learn on this module?

This is an individual project which is discussed and agreed between student and appointed supervisors. Introductory lectures in semester one will introduce you to the theory and practice of public history. Individual tutorials and supervision sessions, available on a regular basis with the project supervisors in Semester One and Two, provide the focus for the taught component of this module. In addition to the introductory lectures, supervisions, and tutorials, a series of workshops in Semesters One and Two will provide students with information on sources, information retrieval, research skills and practice, knowledge exchange, and designing and delivering public outputs. One-to-one tutorials with the subject specialist supervisor in semester one will prepare the student to research and write the short dissertation/extended essay component. Tutorials and workshops with the knowledge exchange supervisor and the subject specialist in Semester Two will provide support for the production of the knowledge exchange component.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your two supervisors, the module leader, and fellow students on the module. Academic support is provided through group and individual tutorials and workshops which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. Your supervisors will be accessible in the workshops and within publicised office hours and via email. Fellow students will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your module leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of the module. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the course materials, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal (Blackboard). Formative (i.e., non-credit-bearing assessment) feedback will be provided throughout workshop and tutorial activities, and through a proposal task early in semester one.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Demonstrate an ability to critically assess primary sources, an historiographical debate, or heritage issue in written form, and to present this analysis through a public or creative output appropriate for a broad audience.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• Exercise time and project management skills.
• Apply research, communication, and analytical skills acquired in previous levels.
• Demonstrate an ability to communicate to academic and public audiences through written and creative ‘knowledge exchange’ outputs.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• Demonstrate an awareness of historical and contemporary relationships and how these relations shape our contemporary perceptions.

How will I be assessed?

There are one formative and two summative assessments:

1. (Formative) A proposal and outline of the project, submitted early in semester one.
2. (Summative) A 5,000-word short dissertation or extended essay, the form of which will be agreed between the student and the subject specialist supervisor. This written work may take the form of an analysis of a discrete body of primary sources, a discussion of historiographical controversy, or an intervention in a current debate about the public understanding of the past.
3. (Summative) A public or creative output based on the research for the short dissertation or extended essay. As part of this assessment, students will also submit a 1,000-word reflective essay in which they discuss their experience designing and delivering a knowledge exchange project.





Module abstract

Historians are more and more aware that historical research should have impact beyond academia and should reach new audiences and broader communities. The ways that history is presented will continue to alter and change as public interest in popular history, heritage and commemoration continues to expand. This module will give you the opportunity to engage with key aspects and issues in the practice of public history. It will provide you with the skills you will need to make critical assessments of topics, issues, and debates in the study of history. The module will also equip you to create your own public-facing knowledge exchange output, such as a website, podcast, or exhibition. In addition to giving you a sense of the creative ways historical knowledge can be communicated to new publics, the module will provide transferable skills for careers in heritage, teaching, publishing, and academic research at postgraduate level.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 40

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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