Historians at work blog

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 16:23:00 GMT

The blog  can be found at http://blogs.hud.ac.uk/subject-areas/historians-at-work/.

“The blog looks at the range and variety of historical projects that are taking part at Huddersfield and some of the innovative teaching that we do,” says research fellow Dr Janette Martin.

“The aim is that the blog will inspire applicants, current students, community groups and potential employers by giving an insight into what it means to study history.”

Early blogs on the site include descriptions by students of their experiences working with the National Coal Mining Museum, The Churches Conservation Trust and a rugby league heritage project.

“The blogs are optional, but for the students it is a really good way to showcase their work,” said Dr Martin, who co-edits Historians at Work.  In addition to undergraduate contributions, it also includes blogs by lecturers and it is hoped that PhD students will also describe their research.

The history department at the University has forged links with a number of history and heritage organisations, including Leeds City Museums, the Royal Armouries, the National Coal Mining Museum, the Thackray Medical Museum, plus the National Trust and English Heritage.

These ties result in a range of opportunities, such as the chance to work on exhibitions.  And two modules that are part of the history degree course – the second-year Hands on History and the third-year History in Practice – teach a range of practical skills that enable students to communicate with the public.

“During Hands on History, for example, we spend quite a bit of time thinking about language, how to write in a different voice and how to make your text straightforward.  That is one of the most difficult things,” said Dr Martin.

A mandatory work placement has been a feature of history degree courses at Huddersfield since 1989, but it has recently been redesigned, with a large part of the assessment dependent on a mock job application form.

“The students must find a placement, write a CV, carry out 180 hours of a placement and then write a mock job application.  We are trying to mirror the process when they are establish their careers,” said history lecturer Dr Rebecca Gill, who is co-leader of the work placement module.

When they seek their placements, a large number of students look for opportunities that have a connection with their studies, such as archive or museum work, said Dr Gill.

“But students are often quite surprised by the number of things you can do with a history degree,” she added.  “History is not necessarily a vocational subject in its own right, but it does equip students with critical thinking, organisation skills, independence, good handling of data, and writing and presentation skills.”

Therefore, a further innovation in the work placement module is a series of talks by outside employers who will talk to history students about different sectors in which they could work.

 

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