History module summaries

First Year

Practising History (A & B): Skills in History

Practising History (A): Skills in History supports students in the transition from school to university, and provides students a firm grounding in the skills needed to study History at undergraduate level. Working in small groups with a Personal Academic Tutor, and focusing on a specific historical topic, students will develop an understanding of the nature of the historical discipline; develop an understanding of the expectations of undergraduate work; develop an understanding of the principles of academic integrity and of academic referencing; develop their personal research skills; develop their knowledge of the on-campus and online resources available at the University of Birmingham; develop their written communication skills; develop their teamwork and presentational skills via formative seminar exercises; and reflect on their intellectual and personal development via the Personal Academic Tutoring process.

Practising History (B): Skills in History supports students in the transition from school to university by providing students with a foundation in the main methodological and theoretical approaches that underpin the writing and study of History. Working in small groups, and focusing on a specific historical topic, students will develop a foundational understanding methodological or theoretical approaches to the writing of history; develop a detailed understanding of (at least) three of these methods or approaches; enhance their understanding of the principles of academic integrity; develop their personal research skills; develop their written communication skills; and reflect on their intellectual and personal development via the Personal Academic Tutoring process.

  • 10+10 credits

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

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.

The 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.

The History of Africa and its Diaspora

  • 20 credits

This module is a survey of the history of Africa and African diasporas. It introduces students to a study of Africa's deep and more recent past, highlighting migrations within, to and from the continent. The module has a broad geographical and chronological reach, locating Africa and Africans in global history. It seeks to widen students' understanding of sources and methods, and to introduce them to key concepts that will strengthen their ability to engage critically with history and memory. The modules covers a wide range of topics such as: early African urbanism, cosmopolitanism and commerce, voluntary and forced migrations, slavery and resistance, cultural exchange, religious beliefs and practices, and the nature and legacies of European imperialism. This broad, introductory survey module provides a foundation for future study of Africa and African diasporas.

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.