The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST2001B Historiography (Introductory)

Semester 1 (2022-2023)

Lecture TimeMonday, 16:30 - 18:15

VenueRoom 212, Lee Shau Kee Building (LSK 212)


Lecturer Ian MORLEY (

Teaching Assistant Law Yu Him (

Course Description

The programme provides an introduction to the theory, study and writing of History, and includes an analysis of the changes in the methods, assumptions and purposes of historical investigation over time. Students during the course learn to appreciate how historiography when applied to the study of History can change the interpretation of, and approaches to, comprehending the causes, evolution and effects of a particular historical process or event, or to the understanding of a particular historical field. Different traditions of historical thinking and writing therefore form a significant component of the module.


In order for all students to grasp the theory of historical study and historical writing selected reading by distinguished historians shall be utilised. This will introduce basic conceptual and methodological matters within the field of History, and help bring to the fore areas of theoretical interest to past and present-day historians. Within tutorials many of these issues shall be further explored so that students can apply learning in these areas to controlled historical writing exercises. By the end of the course it is hoped that all students are able to utilise any source material that is presented to them, be it a written or visual text, in an analytical manner appropriate to ‘proper’ historical study.


The course is split into a number of clearly defined parts which harmonise to form a structured overture of what History and historical writing consists of. The first section surveys the development of the discipline of History. The second part of the course focuses on introducing methodological themes connected to History in order to demonstrate how historical materials, interviews, etc., and perspectives can come together in the production of History. Importantly this element of the programme will allow students the opportunity to be aware of the association between historians, society, ideology, and the diffusion and control of ideas. The third part of the course touches upon matters related to writing, such as research methods, reading and critical thinking, analysis and the basics of historical composition writing. This particular part of ‘Historiography (introductory)’ will help all learners value the necessary skills needed to be a successful historian regardless of the language(s) they use.


The course has two primary objectives, which are:

  • To provide a basic frame of reference regarding History as a distinct academic discipline.
  • To allow students opportunities to develop basic skills, and techniques for the pursuit of historical studies and research in the university situation.


Upon completion of the course students will be able to attain the following learning outcomes:

  • Describe some of the basic issues associated with the production of History and the study of Historiography.
  • Express through spoken discussion a basic awareness of Epistemology and its association with the discipline of History.
  • Review the role and significance of historical ideas to the evolution of societies.
  • Demonstrate through the writing of assignments fundamental analytical skills necessary to effectively read and comprehend source materials.

Week 1. Introductory Class: What is History and Historiography? (September 5th 2022)


What do we mean by ‘history’? What do historians really mean by ‘history’? Is history just about famous people, or are we and our families historical people as well? How does history show itself to us? How is History shown or manipulated in films, for example?


Week 2. NO CLASS! PUBLIC HOLIDAY! (September 12th 2022)


Week 3. What is History? (September 19th 2022)


How did people in different historical periods contribute to the study of History and critical history? How does History and Critical History differ? Do they have mutual goals and purposes? If so, what are their common features? How is it possible to differentiate between the different approaches to the philosophy of History? Is there really a need to study History?


Week 4. The Historian’s Craft (September 26th 2022)


What is meant by the term ‘The Historian’s Craft’? What are the basic actions that any historian must undertake in order to find out, and understand matters about the past? In this lecture what an historian is, and how it can be defined, is investigated.


Week 5. Outline of Some Theoretical Traditions in History (October 3rd 2022)


Empiricism, Epistemology, Structuralism, Modernism, and Post-Modernism: What do these terms mean? How have they been used in historical studies and what contributions have they offered historical study?


Week 6. Problems in, and Problems with, History (October 10th 2022)


What kinds of problems do historians face? What kinds of problems exist with regards to the building of historical knowledge? Does historical writing offer a reliable view of the past? How may be ‘see’ bias?


Week 7. Newspapers and History (October 17th 2022)


Using examples of newspapers events in Modern History will be reviewed.


Week 8. Traditions in Fields of History: The Case of Urban History (October 24th 2022)


Utilising the Maidstone project undertaken at the Centre for Urban History, Leicester University (UK), attention is given to how methodologies aside from reading, like interviews (i.e. Oral History), can be employed successfully in research and writing. Attention will also be given to new forms of historical presentation (e.g. maps, charts, etc.) given by the integration of other disciplines in historical study, etc. This class will thus emphasise how different materials, research techniques and visual means can come together in historical writing today.


Week 9. History and Art (October 31st 2022)


How can art be of use to an historian? How does art history (painting, architecture, sculpture) objectively quantify human history, cultures and distinct historical eras? Can pictures be of use in written history?


Week 10. History and Film (November 7th 2022)


Are films a reliable form of historical evidence? Using particular films depictions of the past will be shown and discussed. Matters introduced in weeks 1 and 2 are reappraised.


Weeks 11 and 12. An Introduction to Academic Writing, and Writing History Academically (November 14th and November 21st 2022)


For this section of the programme attention shifts away from how History is written towards how to write History. Other skills vital to an historian, such as critical reading and thinking skills, will also be noted, and the entire reading/writing process shall be evaluated, in so doing providing students with a vital opportunity to consider and assess historical writing from the perspective of composition and the communication of historical facts and details.


Detailed worksheets for these classes will be provided by Prof. Morley. This part of the programme will include debates, and practical exercises to strength your knowledge and skills associated with the academic writing process.


Week 13. Course conclusion (November 28th 2022)


Final class of the course to pull together threads introduced and discussed in prior classes.

Assessment & Assignments

Course Grading

By the end of the term students shall be given a grade based on the following elements:

  1. Practical Assignment 1: Historical analysis (25%) – 1500 words.
  2. Practical Assignment 2: Historical critique (25%) – 1500 words.
  3. Attendance/Participation (30%) – attending lectures and tutorials, engaging with various class exercises, attendance on fieldtrip.
  4. A short take-home examination at the end of the term that acts as an opportunity for you to wrap up and review what you have learnt during the course (20%).



Historical Analysis Assignment

Students will be asked to write a paper on a subject associated with History, and the works and ideas of historians, demonstrating where possible an understanding of what History is defined as being. The purpose of this assignment is to not only allow students an opportunity to deepen their comprehension both objectively and subjectively with regards to what History is considered to be, but to in addition contextualise History within a controlled scholarly framework. Tutorials 1 and 2 are deliberately designed to build-up knowledge, thinking skills and vocabulary for this particular assignment.


Historical Critique Assignment

Students will be assigned historical source material from the internet which they shall analyse, in so doing discussing the theoretical issues raised within. The purpose of this assignment is to allow students the chance to demonstrate their reading and critical thinking skills, to comprehend the fact that reading is an imperative component of any historian’s armour, and to be better aware of potential problems when using the internet as a research/learning tool. The websites to be utilised will be assigned by your tutor. Tutorials 3 and 4 both grant opportunities to discuss matters relevant to this assignment.


Please remember: Speak with Prof. Morley or the Course Tutor should you have any questions about any of the two assignments.



All students are required to attend all lectures and tutorials and to have prepared for each class. Given the nature of the course students are obliged to have completed assigned readings so as to not only comprehend their classes, but to also where possible participate actively in them. Students must arrive on time for classes or the individual’s attendance grade will be lowered.


Academic Honesty

The Chinese University of Hong Kong puts great emphasis on academic honesty and consequently all students are advised to refer to the following website with regards to university regulations about cheating/plagiarism (copying):

Please note: Under no circumstances shall cheating or plagiarism be tolerated. Academic dishonesty can lead to disciplinary action that may result in a stopping of your studies in the History Department at CUHK. Please take any warnings about the perils of copying other’s work very seriously.


For HIST2001B four tutorials will occur. These will be held immediately after the lecture of weeks 4, 5, 8, and 9. These classes, each of 45 minutes duration, offer practical time to discuss and explore matters raised in the lecture in relation to History and Historiography, and are designed to help lead-in to Assignments 1 and 2.


Other information

Course Handouts 

At each lecture Prof. Morley shall provide you with a paper version of his PowerPoint, and handouts related to key points of the lecture. Likewise for the tutorials handouts shall be given out so as to provide not only reference materials appropriate to learning History, but also ‘doing History’. As such all registered students will be presented with a folder in week 1 in which all class materials can be kept in an organised, logical manner suitable to helping produce work for the assignments, and the take-home exam at term’s end. Materials to be given out therefore constitute the student’s own book of materials useful to the study of History and so other courses they will take in the future at CUHK.


Facebook Group

To encourage learning outside the classroom, to give greater access to your teachers and to allow you the students to discuss any matters raised in lectures, a Facebook group (HIST2001B Historiography 2022-23) only for registered students is established.

The purpose of this online social network may be listed as follows:

  1. To provide a learning support structure outside of confines of the classroom.
  2. To encourage student engagement with the course, in so doing allowing students to learn from each other and not just to learn from the mouth of the teachers. At the Facebook group students can, if they so wish, reveal/show their existing knowledge, talk about their learning experiences and insights about how they have previously been taught to think about and study the world, History (the subject) and what historian’s do.
  3. To promote, where possible, further skill building and knowledge development, e.g. thinking and discussion skills, as well as confidence in being a learner of History.
  4. To allow Prof. Morley a means to quickly send information to you about course administration, deadline, etc.


Fieldtrip and Fieldtrip Phone/Tablet App

As part of HIST2001B a short field trip to the Central District of Hong Kong shall be arranged during Week 7 (October 2022) The field visit is designed to harmonise with theoretical work undertaken in the classroom, and to thus provide an opportunity to see and grasp History in the context of ‘the real world’.

The theme of the field visit shall be related to seeing and reading elements of the urban historical environment, Prof. Morley’s specialist field. The field trip will allow you an opportunity to appraise the urban environment of Hong Kong as an historical text, in so doing drawing together your factual and conceptual knowledge of History learnt during the term.

As part of the fieldtrip students will beforehand download an App designed by Prof. Morley. Compatible with Apple and Android systems the App offers a means to help see and understand Hong Kong’s built environmental heritage, and further develop critical thinking.

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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