HST120: History Workshop

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Dr James Shaw (2018-19)  Dr Andrew Heath (2019-20)

Module Summary

In the History Workshop you will learn the craft of the historian by working with closely with one of our academics on a particular area of their research while simultaneously developing the skills you’ll need to make the step up to university-level historical study.

How do professional historians go about their work? What skills do they need? And, how do they develop them? In this module, you’ll consider these questions by engaging with real historical questions.

Tutors will base their seminars on their own specific research interests, making this module a great way of integrating you into the research culture of the department and giving you real insight into what our historians actually do. Each tutor will then use this area of research as a means of exploring how historians identify and analyse relevant primary sources and navigate historiographical debates, while teaching a range of skills such as critical reading, bibliographic techniques and effective written and oral communication.

You will also develop skills at working both independently and as part of a wider team. The History Workshop has its own on-line learning environment, which enables you to work at your own pace on a series of research exercises. One of the main assessments for this module is a group presentation where you’ll work with other students to research a particular topic and present your findings to the rest of the group.


Lectures provide an efficient way of providing information and guiding your private study. They will be used to introduce the course, explain the online environment, and draw together the key strands of the course. Seminars will then enable the tutors to explain specific research areas and teach key skills, as well as providing opportunities for you to present your ideas and to work cooperatively in groups. The online learning environment will engage you with independent historical research, teach you key skills, and allow you to work in their own pace and time.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level1


  1. Online Exercises
    Ongoing Tuesday Week 2 to Friday Week 5. The exercises in the online learning environment are designed to make you aware of the range of available resources and give you practical experience in using them. The exercises are intended to be accessible and straightforward: just follow the step-by-step instructions. Although this does not contribute to your final grade, please note that this is an obligatory component. (Students who do not complete the exercises to a satisfactory standard will be required to complete a written essay during the re-sit examination period.)
  2. Planning Document
    a) An individually-written, maximum 500-word piece, consisting of your draft introduction and b) an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources. (30% of the overall mark).
  3. Group Presentations
    10 minute presentation, 5 minutes of Q&A, to be delivered in the seminar in Week 11, by three groups of ca. 3-4 students. The presentation will receive a group mark (30% of the overall mark). Each presentation group should choose a topic that is related to the seminar theme in some way, but without discussing the 'big book' in detail.
  4. Critical Analysis
    An individually-written, 2500-word analysis of the 'big book' that you have studied with your tutor. The essay will receive an individual mark (40% of the overall mark).

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, you will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • identify, locate, summarise, evaluate and footnote the secondary literature on the specific subject taught;
  • produce a clearly structured and accurately presented annotated bibliography on a specific research theme;
  • use online resources in a critical and informed way;
  • work with other students to produce a structured and analytical group presentation;
  • write cogently and succinctly on defined topics;
  • participate intelligently in seminar discussion with both the tutor and fellow students;
  • reflect on the process of planning, conducting and presenting historical research;
  • use the library and the online learning environment effectively to support your learning.