Tag Archives: lectures

Should the History Lecture be History?

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand Confucius

There is no doubt that the traditional lecture is under fire, and many would argue that it is with good cause.  Outmoded and didactic, the lecture is something of an educational dinosaur, appearing as a format that is contrary to contemporary thought on optimum ways of learning and seemingly undermining many universities’ aspirations when it comes to research-led teaching. But for all the criticism that exists surrounding the lecture format, it persists – why is this the case, and how far do we need to change the traditional lecture to meet the needs of our students in the twenty-first century?

Continue reading Should the History Lecture be History?

Turning up, tuning in & not dropping out: Learning to love lectures part 2

In my previous post, I explained what a lecture is, why we still use lectures to teach history, and what you should expect when you turn up to class. In this post, I’ll go through some practical ways of getting the most from your lectures – whether you need to show up at all, how to prepare, what to do in the lecture theatre and how to stop everything leaving your head the minute the lecturer stops talking…


Your first choice is whether or not you’re going to turn up – if the lecture is at 9 am after the big student club night, on the far side of town/campus, it’s raining and you’re just not sure you’re that bothered. You’re not sure what the lecture’s on today. You can catch up from someone else or using VLE support…

Well, yes, you can, but there are several reasons for making the effort to go to that lecture:

Continue reading Turning up, tuning in & not dropping out: Learning to love lectures part 2

All talk talk talk? Learning to love lectures part 1

Term’s probably underway or about to be underway for most history students now, so it is a good time to think about the ways in which you’re taught at university. For history students, lectures are probably the most obvious form of teaching you encounter. But what are they and why do we do them? Should we even be doing them, and should you be attending? In this post, I’ll try to break down the reasons for the lecture, then a follow-up post later in the week will look at some techniques for getting the most from lectures.


Continue reading All talk talk talk? Learning to love lectures part 1

Same difference? History at University after History at School.

Hooray! The results are in, your place is confirmed & you are OFF TO UNIVERSITY! To do history! Yaaayyyy!

The next few weeks will probably pass by in a rush of setting up student bank accounts, arranging logistics with parents or whoever is dropping you off, making sure your accommodation is sorted, going through whatever online hoops your institution of choice has mandated for you – tedious, boring, once-done-never-repeated chores. It’s dull but essential stuff. Hopefully, you will also get to have a bunch of parties as your school pals all disperse in their different directions, into work or to different universities. You probably won’t get much of a chance to think about your degree until well into freshers’ week at the very earliest. Even then, it may well be a few weeks into term before you realise that this is not the history you’re used to. And suddenly, excitement turns to bewilderment, or even panic.

In this post, I’d like to go through some of the main differences between the history you’ll have learnt at school, and the history you will encounter at university. I’m going to talk about the subjects, the approaches and the structures, all of which will be notably different to what you’ve experienced before. I am basing this on my own experiences as a tutor of first years – on what students have said to me over the years, and what I’ve observed in the classroom. I’m also an A Level marker, so I’ve got a good idea about the kinds of history you’ve been doing up to this point. And I’ve talked to a number of secondary school history teachers and students at all levels about their experiences and worries about starting a degree. This isn’t meant to be exhaustive, and of course everyone’s experiences are a bit different, but there are some themes which crop up repeatedly.

Continue reading Same difference? History at University after History at School.