History module summaries

First Year

Practising History (A & B)

Practising History (A): Skills in History and Practising History (B): Approaches to History 

  • 10+10 credits

The main aim of this module is to give students a firm grounding in the skills, methods and principles needed for the study of the historical discipline at degree level.

Practising History A: Skills in History will offer students the chance to develop their own personal research skills portfolio by giving them supervised practice at note-taking, referencing, group-work, participation in class debate, research and production of a extensive bibliography for their seminar group’s research project. Much of this material will be accessed through a VLE, and the fact that the students will have to collaborate and make research decisions for themselves as a group makes this a valuable introduction to enquiry-based learning techniques they will meet elsewhere in their degree programmes.

Practising History B: Approaches to History focuses more on the methodological side of the historical discipline, with lectures on the major schools of historical thought backed up by seminars in which students can see how these schools are represented in their group’s particular project.

Discovering the Middle Ages

  • 20 credits

This module aims to introduce students to a broad range of topics from the earlier part of the Middle Ages understood as part of global history, with a focus on staff areas of particular expertise in political, social-economic, religious, cultural history and material culture. The module will include introductions to topics taught as modules in Year 2 and 3, each framed as a question about some person or concept with which students may be familiar. Students will examine these topics through lectures and analysis of relevant primary and secondary source material, including material culture, online resources and accessible locations, to gain first-hand experience of some of the issues involved in the scholarly study of this period.

Making of the Modern World 1500-1800

  • 20 credits

This module aims to introduce students to all aspects of the early-modern world, including its social, economic, military, political, intellectual, religious and cultural history. The module will cover of the period from around 1500 with the discoveries of the new world and invention of printing, up to the late eighteenth century with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Though the focus will be primarily European (including the British Isles), the wider world will also be explored (eg interaction with the New World; American Revolution). Students will examine the above developments through analysis of a broad range of relevant primary and secondary sources; material such as contemporary letters, diaries, treatises, woodcuts, music and material culture will be given particular emphasis as a means of giving students first-hand experience of the key issues involved in the scholarly study of the early-modern period.

War and Society

  • 20 credits

This module provides a critical introduction to the historical study of warfare and its consequences. It considers a range of issues which cut across the pre-modern and modern worlds to explore significant issues for anyone interested in large-scale conflicts and their wider impacts. It typically considers ethics, varied forms of warfare and strategic thought, the economics of war, and the interactions of conflict with issues of race, religion and gender, as well as forms of opposition to conflict, and conflict resolution.

United States History 1865-2000

  • 20 credits

This module offers a broad survey of the history of the United States from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the new millennium. It pays particular attention to the political, economic, intellectual, social, and cultural history of the United States in this period. It explores the aftermath of the Civil War, the rise of the United States as an industrial powerhouse, the emergence of the nation as a global power, its role in both World Wars, and the on-going struggle for a more equal democracy by its citizens. Topics may include: Reconstruction, mass immigration, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, the Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression and New Deal, the Second World War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton administrations.

Living in the Middle Ages

  • 20 credits

This module aims to introduce students to a broad range of topics from the later part of the Middle Ages understood as part of global history, with a focus on staff areas of particular expertise in social-economic, religious, cultural history and material culture. The module will include introductions to topics taught as modules in Year 2 and 3, each framed as a question about some person or concept with which students may be familiar. Students will examine these topics through lectures and analysis of relevant primary and secondary source material, including material culture, online resources and accessible locations, to gain first-hand experience of some of the issues involved in the scholarly study of this period.

The Making of the Contemporary World: Modern History c.1800 to the Present 

  • 20 credits

This module aims to introduce students to all aspects of the late-modern world, including its social, economic, military, political, intellectual, religious and cultural history. The module will cover of the period from around 1800 with the onset of industrialisation up to the turn of the twenty-first century with the end of the Cold War and increasing concern with ‘globalisation’.

Though the focus will be weighted somewhat towards Europe (including the British Isles), the wider world will also be explored (eg empire, decolonisation, modern nationalism). Students will examine the above developments through analysis of a broad range of relevant primary and secondary sources; material such as contemporary treatises, state documents, art and material culture will be given particular emphasis as a means of giving students first-hand experience of the key issues involved in the scholarly study of the late-modern period.

People and Places A & B

  • 10+10 credits

Examples of subjects that students can choose to study:-

  • The Guns of Empire: Birmingham’s Gun Trade in Global Contexts
  • ‘Workers of the World’: The Indian Workers’ Association and Migrant Rights in Britain
  • Windrush and Birmingham’s Imperial Citizens
  • Shakespeare then and now: the Bard and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Building a new Jerusalem: puritan diarists in Early Modern England’
  • Isle in the Tides: History & Literature on Bardsey Island
  • Soho House: Industry, Heritage & Home in Handsworth
  • Joseph Chamberlain: Imperial villain or visionary?
  • Offa of Mercia: kings, queens and coins in an early medieval society
  • St Joseph's Orphanage, Handsworth: public welfare, private charity
  • Jamestown: failure and success in England’s western colonisation
  • Bournville: chocolate's local and global histories
  • The confidence trickster around the world
  • On Marshall Street: Race in Postwar Birmingham
  • Common People: The History of a Birmingham Street
  • E Depois do Adeus: Lisbon, 25 April 1974