• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest History
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Alexander Cook
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

This unit is designed to help students to become better historians and better analysts of historical writing.  It seeks to illuminate the principles, strategies and assumptions which underlie different forms of history - both today and in the past.  And it seeks to acquaint students with current debates about the discipline.

This course considers what historians aim to do, and what they actually do. It asks questions such as:  How can we know what happened in the past?  Why do historians disagree about what happened?   What is the relationship between the present and the past, and how does this inform the way we research and write history?  How are historical narratives constructed?  What literary and rhetorical techniques do they use?  How do they employ evidence? 

The course will consider key developments in historical thought and method, from the classical period to the present day.  It will invite students to consider the social functions of historical writing, as well as to critically assess the methods and models employed by different schools and traditions amongst historians.  Students will have a chance to examine trends in recent historical practice, and to explore the influence of disciplines such as sociology and anthropology on history, as well as of movements such as postmodernism, feminism and post-colonialism.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Comprehend and constructively debate key philosophical and methodological issues central to the study of history and important to other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
  2. Critically analyse the methods which have been employed by different historians and schools of historical thought in their efforts to understand and write about the past. 
  3. Detect the underlying premises and assumptions embedded in specific pieces of historical writing and/or other forms of historical media.
  4. Construct sustained arguments concerning the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to the study of the past.
  5. Reflect on theoretical issues relevant to the practice of different forms of history and their implications for students’ own work.
  6. Design and produce a reflective research project illuminating issues theoretical issues relevant to the practice of History.

Other Information

Course delivery type - combination of on campus and online

Indicative Assessment

1st Essay 2500 words (35%) [Learning Outcomes 1-4]

Research project 3500 words (55%) [Learning Outcomes 1-6]

Oral and/or written contribution to class activities (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1-5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


One lecture (1.5 hours) and one tutorial (1 hour) per week for 13 weeks.  Students are expected to commit at least 7.5 hours per week of private study.  Lectures will be recorded.

Prescribed Texts

Prescribed tutorial readings will be made available to students via Wattle. Students seeking to prepare via preliminary reading may like to consult texts such as:

J. Appleby, L. Hunt & M. Jacob, Telling the Truth about History (N.Y.: Norton, 1995)

J. Burrow, A History of Histories (London: Allen Lane, 2007)

A. Curthoys and J. Docker Is History Fiction?(Sydney: UNSW Press, 2005).


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1470
2014 $2478
2013 $2478
2012 $2358
2011 $2310
2010 $2250
2009 $2178
2008 $2178
2007 $2178
2006 $2178
2005 $2178
2004 $1836
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3450
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3582
2011 $3582
2010 $3576
2009 $3450
2008 $3450
2007 $3450
2006 $3450
2005 $3450
2004 $3450
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2104 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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