HST61005: History and Policy


15 credits

Module Leader 2020-21: Adrian Bingham


Module Summary

'History can and should improve public policy-making, helping to avoid reinventing the wheel and repeating past mistakes.' (History & Policy website).

This module will examine and evaluate the ways in which historians have tried to intervene in the public sphere and shape politics and policy-making. It will address debates about the difficulties of learning 'lessons' from the past and consider the responsibilities that historians have in taking a stance on controversies over past events, or in speaking truth to power. Students will read and critique policy papers from the History & Policy website, and then develop the skills to research and write their own accessible and meaningful policy-oriented reports on a historical topic.

 


Module aims

This module aims to:

  1. Introduce you to the debates and criticism surrounding the use of history in contemporary policy-making
  2. Provide you with a framework for assessing the value of policy interventions by historians
  3. Provide you with an understanding of good practice in producing policy briefings on historical subjects
  4. Enhance your ability to develop independent interpretations and judgements, and to present scholarly arguments.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should (be able to):

  1. Demonstrate familiarity with significant scholarly debates and criticism relating to the use of history in contemporary policy-making (Aim 1)
  2. Demonstrate the ability to discuss the value of policy interventions by historians within a critical framework informed by an appreciation of relevant scholarly literature (A2)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of good practice in producing policy briefings on historical subjects (A3)
  4. Show the ability to develop independent interpretations and judgements, and to present scholarly arguments, orally and in formal written prose (A4).

Teaching

Learning hours
Seminar hours Tutorial hours Independent Learning
10 1 139

The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. The two initial sessions will introduce the key debates on the relationship between history and policy-making, and discuss good practice in terms of producing policy briefings. (LOs 1, 3). In the following three session, students will identify, discuss and evaluate different ways in which historians have sought to intervene in policy-making (LO2). You will also have an opportunity to present policy ideas related to your own choice of historical topic (LO3). The classes will enable students to share knowledge, debate controversial issues and listen and respond to the views of others in a structured environment. You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader to discuss your written work for this module (LO4).

 

Assessment

Assessment methods
Assessment % of final mark Length
Coursework 100% 3000 words

You will prepare a 3000-word policy briefing in the format of those produced for the History & Policy website (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

 

Selected reading

  • Faye Sayer, 'Policy, Politics and History' in Public History: A Practical Guide (Second edition, 2019)
  • Matthew Grant, 'History and Policy', in Tracey Loughran, ed., A Practical Guide to Studying History: Skill and Approaches (2017)
  • Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (2014)
  • http://www.historyandpolicy.org/

 

 

*The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.