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Exploring the Past: History

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Where do our national identities come from? Why do we feel Welsh or Scottish or Irish or English?

This course will seek to answer these questions through a stimulating series of case studies on identity in the British Isles.

It will explore issues like national myths, ethnicity and ideas about heritage, whilst also examining some big themes such as what history is and how it is used by different societies. In so doing, it will equip you with a set of skills that will enable you to get the most from your study of the past, including source analysis, strategies for research, information literacy and assignment-writing.

This course is for anyone with an interest in history and the enthusiasm to take that interest further. It operates as part of the Exploring the Past pathway, and will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help you to study other courses in the pathway.

Learning and teaching

This course consists of nine units divided into themes. Each unit comprises a 2-hour face-to-face session.

These sessions will include:

  • lectures
  • class discussions and group-work
  • source analysis activities
  • and exercises to develop your academic skills.

There will also be an opportunity for learning outside of the classroom, facilitated by the university’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central.

Coursework and assessment

This course has three short pieces of assessed work which together should add up to around 1500 words. These pieces of work have been designed to help you in developing the skills and approaches that you need to study the past successfully. The first of these will allow you to practice putting your ideas in words in an academic form. The second will help you to develop your skills of source analysis, whilst the third will give you the opportunity to write a short historical essay. There will be lots of help and support available for all three assignments.

Reading suggestions

  • B. Anderson 2006, Imagined Communities; Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. 4th edition London (orig. 1983)
  • R. Bartlett 1994, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350. London
  • R.R. Davies 2000, Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales 1063-1415. 3rd edition Oxford (orig. 1987)
  • P.J. Geary 2002, The Myth of Nations; the Medieval Origins of Europe. Princeton & Oxford
  • E.J. Hobsbawm & T. Ranger (eds.) 1992, The Invention of Tradition. 2nd edition Cambridge (orig. 1983)
  • M. Pittock 1999, Celtic Identity and the British Image. Manchester

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.