Part 1 - What is History? A deep dive into what historians do, how and why.
Day 1: What is History? From Herodotus to the History Channel
The first session will aim to introduce students to the essential aims and examples of history across the centuries, encouraging them to think carefully about why they want to study it. Quite often students have a curiosity about history but can’t quite work out why and where this comes from. This part of the course will help them to think about what history is, why it is important and what compels them to study it beyond school.
As well as extending their knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject, the readings and discussions in this session will help them to better understand and articulate their own interest. This is key for successful university applications and performance at interview.
Day 2: How do historians (and students of History) work?
The second day of the course will explore how history is ‘done’. This will introduce students to the practice and principles of real historians, allowing them to better understand and discuss the discipline. It will also give them a taste of the sorts of tasks that they would be expected to do at degree level, from finding and critically evaluating primary sources to establishing their own position in a scholarly debate. With this improved knowledge and skill set, students will be better equipped for the degree application process, from admissions tests to interview tasks.
Day 3: Finding Proof: Historical Evidence
In this session, students will undergo a deeper exploration of the raw materials with which historians work: historical evidence. From papyri to interviews and internet archives, students will expand their knowledge of what constitutes historical evidence and the traditional and more innovative ways that historians use it. Looking at a broad and diverse range of historical sources in the lesson, well beyond those that appear on A-Level exams, students will begin to establish the evidence that interests them the most whilst expanding their understanding of how scholars select evidence to answer the great questions that history poses. As well as educating and enthusing students about the discipline, this session will be particularly helpful preparation for elements of the application and interview tasks that require applicants to think creatively about tackling historical questions.
Day 4: The big debate
The fourth day of the course will give students the opportunity to explore one of the most exciting and important parts of the discipline: debate and disagreement between historians. As a group, we shall look at some of the most controversial and important debates in history, discussing how historians come to opposing conclusions and how we can establish our own positions using historical method. As well as honing students' understanding of History as a discipline, this session will allow them to develop their skills and confidence interacting with historians’ voices critically and establishing and articulating their own views in a confident, scholarly manner. Both of these benefits will bear fruit in the application process and on History degrees themselves.
Day 5: Developing your interests
The final day of the course will focus on helping students to establish and develop their own interests in history, pin-pointing the topics, questions, source-types and themes that have engaged them the most in their studies so far and our week together. As part of this, students will have the opportunity to practice explaining what interests them and why verbally and in writing. This is a key part of all elements of the application process for studying History at degree level. Moreover, the work in this session will prepare students to further develop their historical understanding and interests, giving them practical advice on selecting further reading and other options for independent enrichment. Finally, the work in this session will prepare students to make better university and course choices based on their interests, whilst practicing and consolidating the skills and knowledge covered across the week.
Part 2 - Guided reading. Defining, developing and deepening your historical interests.
Please only book onto this course if you have joined Part One of the course
Day 1: How to build a historical arguement
In this session, students will learn how historians build their arguments, identifying evidence, historiographical interventions and interpretations in classic texts by historians who have defined the field such as Marc Bloch, and E.H. Carr. This knowledge is essential for analysing the texts of other historians and building sound historical arguments oneself.
Day 2: Critical reading
The second session of the course will give the students the opportunity to analyse a text critically, learning how to engage in the fruitful scholarly debate that characterises historical study. To develop this crucial skill, students will apply the knowledge developed in the first session to engage with controversial historical texts and learn to make informed, sound judgements on historians’ conclusions.
Day 3: Finding your books
On the third day, students will learn how to identify the highest quality resources for expanding their reading and developing their interests. Looking at research tools on and offline, students will search for books, articles and other scholarly resources that will help them to expand and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the areas of history that interest them the most. As well as giving students the skills necessary to undertake high quality research, this session will allow the students to develop their research, building up materials to discuss in their Personal Statements and at interview.
Day 4: Discussing your interests
The final day of the course will give the students the opportunity to develop their skills in discussing their research-based reading with others, both verbally and in writing. Students will hone their skills of expression, writing with clarity and concision and answering questions on their historical interests with a clear argument, evidence and analysis. In this class, students will also be encouraged to reflect on the larger themes and questions that unite their topical interests in history, crucial preparation for writing a cohesive and compelling personal statement and performing well at interview.