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HIS3004 Approaches To History

Semester 1, 2012 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities and Communication

Contents on this page


Examiner: Catherine Dewhirst
Moderator: Libby Connors


Pre-requisite: Any first year History course plus one other in History or International Relations

Other requisites

Students who have successfully completed HIS2004 Approaches to History cannot enrol in this course.
Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.
This course should be completed during the student's last year in the program.


The study of historical approaches and interpretations represents an advanced critical level for understanding the discipline of History and the way it has developed over time. This course takes students ?behind the scenes? of some of the most interesting periods in the past to explore how historians conceived of their role and craft. It encompasses the contesting nature of the discipline, particularly since its establishment of a profession in the late nineteenth century, and the most recent literary and cultural incursions.


This course provides an introduction to the development of historical writing and current debates in the philosophy and methodology of the discipline of History. The course is divided into two parts. The first part surveys the evolution of the discipline of History from the ancient world to the present. The second part focuses on the methodological issues of objectivity/subjectivity, positivism/relativism, and postmodernism. Each section emphasises the interrelationship between the transmission and control of ideas, and the structure of society. An important theme in each part is the nature of ideology and hegemony.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. define and describe the basic stages in the production of History and Historiography;
  2. describe the principal features in the development of Historiography;
  3. show an awareness of epistemology - the origins, nature, methods, and limits of knowledge - as reflected in the discipline of History;
  4. define ideology and discuss the role of ideas in society;
  5. explain the positivist-idealist dichotomy and discuss the objectivity-subjectivity debate;
  6. evaluate the impact of postmodernism on the study of History.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Defining and Studying History: What is history? Why study history? Historical Evidence 25.00
2. The Development of Historiography: Classical Historiography, Judaic-Christian and Medieval Historiography, Early Modern Historiography, Ranke and the Critical School, Post-Rankean Historiography 25.00
3. Ideology, Marxism and Positivism: The Background to Social Analysis, the Rise of Ideology, Fundamentals of Marxism I, Fundamentals of Marxism II, Marxism and History, the Postmodern Critique 25.00
4. The Nature of Historical Knowledge: The Science and Art of History, Historical Explanation, Historical Objectivity, the Purpose of History 25.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Evans, RJ 1997, In Defence of History, Granta Books, London.
  • Tosh, J 2010, The Pursuit of History, 5th edn, Pearson Education, Harlow, UK.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Carr, EH 1987, What is History?, 2nd edn, Penguin, Harmondsworth.
  • Curthoys, A and Docker, J 2006, Is History Fiction?, UNSW Press, Sydney.
  • Elton, GR 1984, The Practice of History, Collins, London.
  • Jenkins, K 1991, Re-Thinking History, Routledge, London and New York.
  • Lambert, P & Schofield, P (eds) 2004, Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practices of a Discipline, Routledge, London & New York.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 78.00
Examinations 3.00
Private Study 85.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CMA TEST 1 100 0 30 Mar 2012
1500 WORD PAPER 100 20 30 Apr 2012
CMA TEST 2 100 5 16 May 2012
2000 WORD PAPER 100 40 25 May 2012
CMA TEST 3 100 5 08 Jun 2012
EXAMINATION 2 HOURS 100 30 End S1 (see note 1)

  1. Students will be advised of the official exam date after the timetable has been finalised.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students? responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed to bring only writing and drawing instruments into the Closed examination.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.