LWMHAA-Accessing and Interrogating Archives

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Stephen Banks

Email: s.banks@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to the sources available in London for historical research, primarily in the modern period (since 1500), provides them with an introduction to the legal regime governing public records and access to archives, and explores some of the theoretical and practical issues raised by archival research and the use of legal and historical sources. The primary aims of the module are to equip students with the skills necessary to undertake a programme of primary source research in legal history, and to develop their understanding of the practical and theoretical issues which they must address in the course of such research.

Assessable learning outcomes:
After completing the module, students will:
• have a knowledge of the sources in legal and historical research
• have a knowledge of the legal regime and other factors determining access to, and use of, public and private records
• be able to demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical issues which arise in the use of legal and historical sources
• be able critically to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a range of legal historical sources
• be able to identify the sources which they will use in their own research and the practical and theoretical issues which they must address.

Additional outcomes:
This module will also encourage the development of independent learning, as well as communication skills and personal responsibility.

Outline content:
• Introduction to the main archives, repositories and libraries in London
• Using digital sources in historical research
• Introduction to the legal regime governing public records
• Introduction to the factors affecting access to, and use of other types of archival material
• Introduction to the theoretical issues arising from the use of legal and historical sources
• A consideration of how to address some of the practical and theoretical problems inherent in archival research.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is designed around a pre-circulated reading list followed by a series of arranged visits and lectures over a single intensive week's study at the Institute of Historical Research in London. Students will visit a wide variety of different types of archive and libraries in London, including the principal national collections. They will be introduced to the holdings of each institution by the responsible curators or archivists, and instructed in the use of relevant finding aids and in all the techniques necessary for research on primary sources. The programme of visits is reinforced by a number of lectures at the IHR from experts in fields of particular relevance.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
External visits 40
Guided independent study 160
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
• Pass/Fail: Attendance at the course at the Institute of Historical Research.
• Graded: Two 6 page essays formulated in accordance with the School of Law's Assessed Work Rules. The first will focus upon practical and legal issues affecting the use of archival sources. The second will examine theoretical issues arising from the use of archives in legal historical research.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:
50% in each essay and a Pass in Attendance

Reassessment arrangements:
As for the original assessment, but a mark in a passed element can be carried forward

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 April 2018


Things to do now