The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST4702 Digital History

Semester 1 (2023-2024)

Lecture TimeWednesday, 14:30 - 16:15

VenueLai Chan Pui Ngong Lecture Theatre (in Y.C. Liang Hall) (LPN LT)


Lecturer Stuart MCMANUS (

Teaching Assistant YANG Zhishui (

Course Description

Course Description

The use of digital methods to ask historical questions is growly rapidly. This course introduces students to the exciting world of digital history (and digital humanities more broadly), including text mining, digital mapping, visualization, digital curation, and 3-D modeling and video editing. These are skills that students will be able to apply to a range of historical problems, and will also be useful in a variety of future careers. This is an introductory course and no background is required.

Grade Descriptors

Grade A Outstanding performance on all learning outcomes.

Grade A- Generally outstanding performance on all (or almost all) learning outcomes.

Grade B Substantial performance on all learning outcomes, OR high performance on some learning outcomes which compensates for less satisfactory performance on others, resulting in overall

substantial performance.

Grade C Satisfactory performance on the majority of learning outcomes, possibly with a few weaknesses.

Grade D Barely satisfactory performance on a number of learning outcomes.

Grade F Unsatisfactory performance on a number of learning outcomes, OR failure to meet specified assessment requirements.



*If class is in person, please bring your laptop/electronic device to every class*

1. (6/9) Introduction: What is Digital History?
Reading: Watch introductory video and read the various parts of “Concepts in Digital Humanities:

2. (13/9) What is data? Introduction to EXCEL. Online via Zoom (all other classes in person)
Sections 1.1, 1.2,. 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.1, 4.3 of Beginning Excel
Homework: Complete Beginning Excel 2.5 Practice Chapter

3. (20/9) Visualization with Tableau I [introduce final project]
Reading: Do Tableau tutorials: Students might also want to browse
Homework: Make a simple Tableau visualization that tells us something interesting about the Ming Jinshi list. Read: (use google translate)

4. (27/9) Visualization with Tableau II [create sub-groups]
Reading: Become a Tableau Jedi; browse: .
Homework: Make Tableau visualizations that show how the recipients of the Ming Jinshi changed over time and geographically.

5. (4/10) Text Mining with CText
Homework: Use CText to understand how the use of 我們 changed over time in Chinese texts.

6. (11/10) Text Mining with CText
Advanced Reading for Text group only: ; ;
Homework: How did Matteo Ricci use the Chinese classics?

7. (18/10) Creating a Web Presence (not .com)
Reading “Basic usage & Customizing”
Homework: Make a personal website with some basic information and a photo of you.

8. (25/10) Digital Mapping with QGIS I Reading: explore the following resources: Do QGIS Lessons 2.1-2.2
Homework: Make a map of the travels of Adam Schall.

9. (1/11) Digital Mapping with QGIS II Reading: QGIS Lessons 2.3-2.4 ;
Homework: Make a map of Beijing at the time of Adam Schall

10. (8/11) 3-D Modelling I with Sketchup Register for SketchUp Free ( and watch tutorial: ; study Homework: Make a basic model of Fung King Hey Building
Homework: Make a basic model of Fung King Hey Building

11. (15/11) 3-D Modelling II Watch: ; Do free trial of Kubity Go
Homework: Make a basic model of the Forbidden City in Beijing c. 1640.

12. (22/11) Video Creation (Openshot) Reading: Openshot tutorial: Teaching Evaluation at start of class.
Homework: Make a 30 sec video about Adam Schall.

13. (29/11) Reflections & Final Project Troubleshooting.(Online)

Assessment & Assignments

10% Attendance and Participation in Lecture
Students are expected to attend and contribute to lectures. Students are also expected to do the set reading ahead of class and do any set homework exercises. Although students will become experts in only one or two digital methods, they must learn the rudiments of all the methods covered.
N.B. Students will also be expected to attend at least three meetings of the digital humanities seminar (advertised on the Faculty of Arts website), as well as office hours on at least one occasion.
10% Weekly Homeworks
10x weekly homework assignments for weeks 2-12. This should be submitted in the form of a pdf with screen shots and 100-150 words of text. Due by email to the TA on Thursday 9am each week (absolute deadline).

30% Discussion in tutorial sharing sessions (7.5% each tutorial)
In each of the tutorials, each of the subgroups will collectively present their ideas/progress (in the form of a PowerPoint with relevant data/visualizations/etc.) and seek feedback from other students. Each tutorial will be devoted to a different stage of project management: planning, build-up, implementation, closeout.

50% Final Group Project
Students will complete a coherent group project on the topic of: Adam Schall’s 火攻挈要 (1643): A Holistic Approach to Science and Warfare during the Qing Conquest. Depending on numbers, students will be divided into small groups, each responsible for a different element, e.g. text mining with CText, data/visualizations, maps, video, website (+overall coordination), etc. Students should communicate regularly and I suggest you set up a Whatsapp group for this purpose.

The project will take the form of a website (hosted by the UL). Cf. last year’s project. For hosting the website, please contact Kitty at the DS Lab.

a. The final grade will be based on 50% on the project/website. Due date December 8, 5pm.
b. Many works by missionaries are already on CText, and more will be added over the summer.
c. For the 火攻挈要, please OCR the late Qing reprint (1849) in the UL, if you can’t find a digital copy of the 1643 original. All texts put onto CTEXT must be from images of original printed works from CUHK library.


In each of the 4 tutorials with the TA, each of the teams will collectively present their ideas/progress (in the form of a PowerPoint with relevant data/visualizations/etc.) and seek feedback from other students.
Each tutorial will be devoted to one stage of project management:

Tutorial 1
11/Oct/2023(Wed) 16:30-18:15 LHC 106
Tutorial 2
25/Oct/2023(Wed) 16:30-18:15 LHC 106
Tutorial 3
08/Nov/2023(Wed) 16:30-18:15 LHC 106
Tutorial 4
22/Nov/2023(Wed) 16:30-18:15 LHC 106

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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