Skip to content

Level 6

The focus of the final year is history in depth.  You’ll undertake a dissertation and immerse yourself in a Special Subject which focuses on a historical issue or region and its primary source material in great depth.  As in your second year, you’ll choose from a range of options from the medieval to the modern based on the research expertise of the staff in the department.  Details of all modules that may be on offer are below.

Core Module

HI6100: History Dissertation

You will undertake a dissertation, supported by a supervisor, on a research topic of YOUR own choice, which will demonstrate the research skills you have acquired during your career as a historian at Chester and allow you to explore the subject that you love the most in detail.  The perfect way to end your degree, your way!

Optional modules

**All options may not be available every year and are subject to change

HI6103: The English Revolution: Causes, Course and Consequences

This module analyses the so-called 'English Revolution' of the mid seventeenth century, focusing on the causes and consequences of the civil wars of the 1640s. Commencing with an assessment of the early Stuart state and with an overview of the political, social, economic, financial, religious and administrative context of the first half of the seventeenth century, the module explores the various explanations of the origins and causes of the civil war which broke out in 1642, both by assessing the reigns of James I (as king of England, 1603-25) and Charles I (from 1625) and by exploring the historiography and historical debate. The civil wars themselves are analysed and the military, political, administrative and religious developments of the war years are examined to show why no traditional post-war settlement was possible and instead led to regicide, to the removal of much of the traditional constitution, to radicalism and constitutional experimentation. The successive regimes of the interregnum are explored, focusing on strengths and weaknesses, problems and tensions, with particular reference to the most durable and stable regime of the period, the Protectorate of Oliver and Richard Cromwell. Having assessed the Restoration and Restoration Settlement, the module closes by assessing the legacy of the period and the appropriateness of the various labels which have been attached to the events of the mid century. The module focuses on England and Wales, but close attention is paid to developments in Scotland and Ireland and their impact upon the Anglo-centric state. Throughout, close attention is given to both primary and secondary sources, exploring their strengths and weaknesses and examining how historians have employed and interpreted contemporary source material.

In addition, students may take HI6109 (Historical Sources: The English Revolution) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6118: The Culture of Defeat: Weimar Germany and the Legacies of the First World War

This module explores the gradual rise and dramatic fall of Weimar Germany from 1914 to 1933. The short-lived Weimar Republic is often regarded as a calamitous failure. After all, Hitler’s Nazi regime emerged from the Weimar system in 1933. Yet this common interpretation of the Republic overlooks the difficult wartime legacies that dogged it from the start. The module considers the economic, political and social impact of Germany’s defeat in the First World War. It also pays particular attention to the cultural innovation of this period, much of which can also be seen as a legacy of the war. The first part of the module examines the First World War and German society, the initial impact of defeat and the German Revolution of 1918. The second part considers the consequences of the Versailles Treaty, the demobilisation of troops, inflation and the growth in antisemitism. Focusing mainly on Weimar culture, the third part analyses art, architecture, film, mass culture and fears of moral decline in the mid 1920s. The fourth and final part of the module concentrates on the collapse of the Republic from the late 1920s onwards. Important themes include the worldwide depression, the persistence of the war in popular memory and the rise of the Nazis.

In addition, students may take HI6119 (Historical Sources: Weimar Germany) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6126: Gritty City, Urban Wonderland: The Rise of the Modern Metropolis

Modern Western societies, from the early nineteenth century onwards, witnessed and enacted a dramatic global shift towards urban living.  Now, in the twenty first century, the majority of the world’s population lives in towns and cities.  This module will explore the evolution of the city in modern human history, assessing the significance of the urban environment for governments, communities and minorities, during wartime, at moments of crisis and as a blueprint for vast expansion.  Using a dual chronological and thematic approach, it will ask students to consider how sexuality, gastronomy, criminality, civil liberties and national identity have been expressed and experienced by urban dwellers across the nineteenth and twentieth century.  Although its primary focus will be Britain's cities, the historical, cultural and technological importance of the American city and the Eastern city will also be addressed, whilst comparisons with European cities will be integrated where relevant.  This module will pair scholarly literature from the dynamic field of urban studies with a broad range of multi-disciplinary sources such as press articles, fiction, films, posters and oral history to explore the integral role of the city within modern social history.

In addition, students may take HI6127 (Historical Sources: Gritty City, Urban Wonderland) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6128: The Norman Conquest of England, 1066-1154

(In)famously, 1066 is the date every schoolchild should know: William, duke of Normandy, defeated the last Anglo-Saxon king Harold at Hastings, transforming himself from duke to king and transforming the economic, social and political landscape of Britain. William’s complicated claim to the throne seems radically to have altered English kingship, producing new conventions governing succession and coronation, and the legal fiction that all land was dependent on the king. William’s victory tied together the fortunes of England and Normandy until the thirteenth century. Within 20 years, William had replaced almost all the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy with his own men and married a significant number to Anglo-Saxon women, producing a new Anglo-Norman aristocracy. Over the course of his reign, he replaced many of the Anglo-Saxon bishops with outsiders too. At the end of his reign these changes were cemented through the production of a unique survey of landholdings – the Domesday Book (1086-1088). Thanks largely to his conquest, the first castles were introduced to England, every English cathedral was rebuilt in a new Romanesque style, and most local parish churches were rebuilt in stone. The Norman Conquest, 1066-1154, will consider a series of historical problems at the heart of this period and that remain the subject of fierce debate. Why did William invade England and how did he consolidate his power and authority as King of England? What continuity or change was there in the organization of the kingdom of England? Did William and his men set in train a ‘feudal revolution’ in England? Did William’s transformation of kingship and land tenure destabilize England until 1154? To what extent did conquest contribute to the reform of the English Church? How did the introduction of outsiders change ethnic identities in England and how did this affect social and political identities across Britain?

In addition, students may take HI6129 (Historical Sources: The Norman Conquest) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6132: English Landscape, Culture and Identity from 1800

 Why are some landscapes seen as more valuable than others? Why is the countryside so often used to symbolise English national identity, when most of us live in urban environments? Should we value military heritage sites in the same way as country houses? These are some the questions we will explore in this module. We’ll trace the development of preservation movements such as the National Trust, alongside the growth of tourism and popular leisure activities, such as hiking, and the struggle for access. We’ll also think about these historically significant issues in the context of current debates over landscape and heritage. The landscape of north-west England offers important examples and case studies each week, although we’ll also examine coast, country, and cityscapes in other areas of the country.

In addition, students may take HI6133 (Historical Sources: English Landscape, Culture and Identity) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6139: Power, Ritual and the State: Court and Cities, 1363-1477

As one of the most densely urbanised and wealthy regions in later medieval Europe, the Low Countries under the counts of Flanders and later the Burgundian dukes became a centre of international commerce and trade, as well as home to powerful cities and an influential court. Reflecting on recent historiography which has underlined the inextricable connections between the court and urban centres, this module will encourage students to examine in depth the social and economic interchanges between these entities. In particular, the course will consider how the Burgundian dukes and their urban subjects lived in the later Middle Ages, examining their material surroundings, ritual interchanges, and courtly and civic markets. It will make use of a rich body of secondary and primary literature that covers everyday life in the court and town in order to consider the growing consumer base of the Burgundian Netherlands.

In addition, students may take HI6140 (Historical Sources: Power, Ritual and the State) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6141: The Least Dangerous Branch?: The US Supreme Court and the Shaping of Modern America

The United States Supreme Court was described as "the least dangerous branch" of the federal government by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 78.  However, the acceptance of the Court's role as the ultimate arbiter of what is or is not constitutional (established in 1803 in the case of Marbury v Madison) has resulted in the Court wielding enormous power and influence within the American political system.  As such, it has played a key role in virtually every key event in American history and in shaping modern America.  Using a thematic approach, this module will examine and discuss the development of modern America from a constitutional perspective.  We will begin with an analysis of the intentions of the founding fathers when establishing the Constitutional system in order to provide the necessary framework for our discussion of subsequent issues and events in modern American history where the Supreme Court has played a key role.  These will include, but are not limited to, the development of American capitalism, race relations, women’s issues (including abortion), the history of crime and punishment (including the death penalty), foreign policy (including the War on Terror), issues of freedom (including freedom of speech and McCarthyism, religion and gun control), and the power of the president.

In addition, students may take HI6142 (Historical Sources: The Least Dangerous Branch?) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6143: Heresy and Unbelief in an Age of Reform, 1400-1600

This module explores the way in which ideas about heresy and unbelief were used to disempower religious and ethnic minorities in Europe and the wider world during the Age of Contact. The module will explore themes of heresy as inversion, the construction of ‘the other’, the relationship between ideas of heresy and witchcraft, the function of the Inquisition (including the Spanish Inquisition), the prosecution of heresy as a tool of social control and the relationship between ideas of heresy and race. Students will also be encouraged to reflect on the role of religious ideas in defining historical communities, as well as their part in the history of exclusion, intolerance and religious persecution – themes which remain relevant today.  Students will examine inquisition, heresy, anti-Semitism and witchcraft in Europe, and will be given the opportunity to explore early European colonialism with particular reference to the New World and Asia. The module is interdisciplinary and students will be supported in the creative examination of non-traditional historical sources, both to challenge persistent historical narratives of the ‘Reformation World’, and as a way of including non-European perspectives. We will work with historical documents, of course, but also literary texts as well as visual and material culture.

In addition, students may take HI6144 (Historical Sources: Heresy and Unbelief in the Age of Reform) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.

HI6145: Genocide in History and Memory

The twentieth-century has come to be known as ‘the century of genocide’ whilst the opening years of the twenty-first century have also borne witness to instances of mass atrocity. Asking how, and why, these violent acts occur this course will further conceptual and historical understandings of the global phenomenon of genocide. Over the course of the module, students will make use of a rich body of primary and secondary literature to interrogate the legal, historical and cultural meaning of genocide informed by a multi-disciplinary approach. Alongside broad historical questions, the module will also consider the aftermath of genocide, including issues of retribution and justice, denial and the complexities surrounding memorialisation and remembrance of these crimes as we enter the digital age.

Although taking a broadly chronological approach considering individual cases of genocide, this module will also consider these instances comparatively by exploring a wide range of thematic issues relating to these acts and how they are represented in contemporary society. Case studies will be drawn from across the world: Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia, with perpetrators ranging from imperialist powers to individual men and women, fascists, communists, nation-state builders, 'developmentalists' and counter-insurgency fighters. The case-studies that will be explored over the course of this module are largely chosen from the record of modern history, primarily the twentieth, and twenty-first, centuries, but since the course is comparative, it will also include reflection on selected cases from earlier centuries. This will allow students to critically reflect on the question of whether genocide is quintessentially a crime of modernity. An illustrative list of topics that may be covered in this module includes: perpetrator motivation, survivor rehabilitation, International Criminal Tribunals, sexual violence, gender, migration, climate change, auto-genocide, intra-state power relations, sites of atrocity, the media, and material culture.

In addition, students may take HI6146 (Historical Sources: Genocide in History and Memory) which provides an in-depth study of relevant primary sources.