The Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies offers an exciting new opening for graduates of all disciplines to pursue a taught postgraduate qualification in historical studies. This one-year part-time course offers a unique opportunity for students to combine focused study of key historical themes and concepts in British and Western European history with either a broad-based approach to history or with the opportunity to specialise by period or in a branch of the discipline (political, social, economic, art, architectural and local). The course culminates in the research and preparation of a substantial dissertation.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies forms part of a two-year Master's programme. Students who successfully complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies are eligible to apply to the Master's of Study in Historical Studies (https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/mst-in-historical-studies).
This Historical Studies course offers a stimulating and supportive environment for study. As a student of Oxford University you will also be entitled to attend History Faculty lectures and to join the Bodleian Library. The University’s Museums and Art Galleries are within easy walking distance.
Unit 1: Princes, States, and Revolutions The first unit examines the interaction between the state and the individual from medieval to modern times and focuses upon authority, resistance, revolution and the development of political institutions. It introduces the development of scholarly debate, key historical themes and the critical analysis of documentary sources. Students explore disorder and rebellion in medieval and early modern England; the causes and impact of the British Civil Wars; and the causes and impact of the French Revolution.
Unit 2: European Court Patronage c.1400 The second unit explores cultural patronage in late medieval Europe and examines the diverse courtly responses to shared concerns and experiences, including the promotion of power and status; the relationship between piety and power; and the impact of dominant cultures. It introduces comparative approaches to history, the critical analysis of visual sources and the methodological issues surrounding the interpretation of material culture and the translation of written sources. Students compare the courts of Richard II of England, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless of Burgundy, Charles V and Charles VI of France, and Giangaleazzo Visconti of Milan.
Unit 3: Religious Reformations and Movements The third unit examines the role of organised religion and religious movements in the lives of people in the past. It utilises case studies from different historical periods to explore the impact of local circumstances upon the reception and development of new ideas and further encourages engagement with historical debate and the interpretation of documentary and visual sources. Students explore: medieval monasticism; the English and European reformations of the sixteenth century; and religion and society in nineteenth-century England, including the rise of nonconformity, secularism and the Oxford Movement.
Unit 4: Memory and Conflict The fourth unit focuses upon a central theme in the study of twentieth-century European history: how societies have chosen to remember (and forget) violent conflicts, and the relationship between public and private memory. It explores the challenges faced by historians when interpreting documentary, visual and oral sources in the writing of recent history. Students examine the theoretical context and methodological approaches to the study of memory and consider two case studies: World War I and the Spanish Civil War.
Unit 5: Special Subjects In the final unit, students study a source-based special subject and research and write a dissertation on a related topic of their own choice. A range of subjects will be offered, varying from year to year, allowing specialization across both time periods and the historical disciplines. Examples include:
- Visualising Sanctity: Art and the Culture of Saints c1150-1500 - The Tudor Court - The English Nobility c1540-1640 - The Great Indian Mutiny and Anglo-Indian Relations in the Nineteenth Century - The British Empire - Propaganda in the Twentieth Century
The on-line teaching modules
The first module provides a pre-course introduction to history and post-graduate study skills. The second focuses upon the analysis and interpretation of material sources, such as buildings and images and the third upon the analysis and interpretation of a range of documentary sources. All include a range of self-test exercises.
Libraries and computing facilities
Registered students receive an Oxford University card, valid for one year at a time, which acts as a library card for the Departmental Library at Rewley House and provides access to the unrivalled facilities of the Bodleian Libraries which include the central Bodleian, major research libraries such as the Sackler Library, Taylorian Institution Library, Bodleian Social Science Library, and faculty libraries such as English and History. Students also have access to a wide range of electronic resources including electronic journals, many of which can be accessed from home. Students on the course are entitled to use the Library at Rewley House for reference and private study and to borrow books. The loan period is normally two weeks and up to eight books may be borrowed. Students will also be encouraged to use their nearest University library. More information about the Continuing Education Library can be found at http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/conted.
The University card also provides access to facilities at Oxford University Computing Service (OUCS), 13 Banbury Road, Oxford. Computing facilities are available to students in the Students' Computing Facility in Rewley House and at Ewert House.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies course is designed to:
- provide a structured introduction to the study of medieval and modern British and European history;
- develop awareness and understanding of historical processes, such as continuity and change, comparative perspectives and the investigation of historical problems;
- provide the methodology required to interpret visual arts as historical evidence;
- equip students to evaluate and interpret historical evidence critically;
- promote interest in the concept and discipline of history and its specialisms;
- enable students to develop the analytical and communication skills needed to present historical argument orally and in writing;
- prepare students for progression to study at Master's level.
By the end of the course students will be expected to:
- display a broad knowledge and understanding of the themes and methodologies studied;
- demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of key topics, the historical interpretation surrounding them and the relationship between local case-studies and the national perspective;
- utilise the appropriate critical and/or technical vocabulary associated with the disciplines, periods and themes covered;
- identify underlying historical processes, make cross-comparisons between countries and periods and explore historical problems;
- assess the relationship between the visual arts and the cultural framework within which they were produced;
- evaluate and analyse texts and images as historical evidence and utilise them to support and develop an argument;
- develop, sustain and communicate historical argument orally and in writing;
- reflect upon the nature and development of the historical disciplines and their contribution to national culture;
- demonstrate the skills needed to conduct an independent research project and present it as a dissertation within a restricted timeframe.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies is assessed through coursework. This comprises: four essays of 2,500 words each, two source-based exercises of 1,500 words each and a dissertation of 8,000 words. Students will write one essay following each of the first four units and the dissertation following unit 5. There will be a wide choice of assignment subjects for each unit and students will select a dissertation topic relating to their special subject with the advice of the course team. Students will be asked to write a non-assessed book review following the first pre-course online module and the source-based exercises will follow the second and third online modules.
Assignment titles, submission deadlines and reading lists will be supplied at the start of the course.
Tuition and study
A variety of teaching methods will be used in both the face-to-face and online elements of the course. In addition to lectures, PowerPoint slide presentations and tutor-led discussion, there will be opportunities for students to undertake course exercises in small groups and to give short presentations on prepared topics.
Students are taught by the Department’s own staff but are also entitled to attend, at no extra cost, the wide range of lectures and research seminars organised by the University of Oxford’s History Faculty. Students are able to borrow books from both the Department’s library and the History Faculty Library, and are also eligible for membership of the Bodleian Library.