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BA (Honours) History - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

We aim to:

  • explain what the academic study of History is all about (and how it differs from ‘popular history’ on TV or in books). Above all else, we aim to make you aware of the nature of the discipline and sub disciplines of History (for instance, political, economic and social history) and of their distinctive approaches and methods
  • give you a good grounding in the history of the British Isles and Continental Europe from the later Middle Ages to the present, and stimulate and help to satisfy your interest in the subject
  • allow you to set historical study at OU levels 1, 2 and 3 within a degree programme that will meet the quality controls agreed by the Quality Assurance Agency and encourage your progression through the various levels of the programme. By the end of the programme, you should be able to engage in independent study with relatively little tutorial support
  • allow you to combine historical study with interdisciplinary work and enable you to set the discipline of History within the context of other arts disciplines
  • allow you to specialise to some extent in certain areas
  • emphasise the practical aspects of ‘being a historian’
  • help you to communicate your knowledge and understanding to a knowledgeable audience.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes for your degree describe the knowledge and understanding, the cognitive (intellectual) skills, the practical or professionally related skills, and the key skills that you will have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate as you study for a BA (Hons) in History. You might like to extract statements from the following lists to support any applications you make for further study or employment.

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • history as a systematic and reflective discipline producing bodies of knowledge about the past, these being constantly subject to controversy, debate, refinement and correction
  • aspects of the history of Britain, Continental Europe and the wider world from around 1500 to the present
  • the use and value of relevant concepts and theories.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • read critically and think logically
  • evaluate evidence and distinguish between objective knowledge, hypotheses and opinions
  • apply such knowledge and understanding and other cognitive skills to the solution of problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature
  • synthesise information and ideas obtained from a variety of sources, including written and visual sources.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • undertake research: seek out, collect and select relevant information in a systematic manner, using information literacy
  • present historical discussion in appropriate language using the scholarly apparatus (according to conventions within the discipline) that provides proper acknowledgement of relevant work by other scholars.

Key skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following key skills:

  • communicate your ideas effectively both orally and in writing in ways that demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the discipline
  • collaborate with others and participate in group discussion on a complex subject
  • study and learn independently: including planning and executing a study programme
  • seek and use feedback, and through reflection and self-assessment improve performance in the academic context.
  • read and synthesise substantial amounts of material. frequently not intended for student use.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

In the programme a range of different types of assessment is used, in accordance with the recommendations of the national history benchmarking statement. Most modules adopt the normal OU weighting of 60% continuous assessment and 40% examinable component. The tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) that make up the continuous assessment component may take the form of traditional history essays, extended essays, short-answer questions, statistical and computer exercises, drafts of independent work, and book reviews, depending on the module and the level. (For example, you are more likely to be asked to complete an extended TMA based on independent study at OU level 3 than at OU level 2.) The examinable component may take the form of a project or dissertation or other piece of independently researched work.