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Oral Assessment

You will be assessed on your contribution across the whole module, with one mark assigned at the end of the module. The assessment will involve two components:

  • Brief interim feedback will be provided by your seminar tutors in Week 6 to give an indication of how you are performing and how you can improve.
  • A short informal presentation on a primary source of your choice (intended to assist you with your 1,000 word primary source analysis).
  • At the end of the module, your tutor will award a mark and give feedback based on your seminar contribution and engagement towards the module as a whole.

You will be assessed on the quality of your engagement with small and whole group discussion throughout the course, showing evidence that you have completed the seminar tasks requested by your tutors and engaged with the material you have read and are given in the lectures. As part of this, you will also be asked to give a short presentation (no more than 5 minutes) on a primary source of your choice linked to one of the weekly seminar topics. The seminars should provide you with a space where you feel comfortable to contribute your thoughts. The tutors will manage the group dynamics to ensure that every student has the opportunity to contribute if they wish to do so. It is not about quantity of contribution but quality.

Your seminar participation mark will assess the following areas: 

  • Oral Communication: clarity of expression; persuasiveness; respectfulness and inclusivity; asking useful/probing questions; contributions that extend the discussion.
  • Knowledge and Understanding: evidence of preparation of core and/or wider reading; demonstrates comprehension of the readings and/or seminar questions
  • Methodological Approaches: ability to discern, explain, or engage with historiographical or methodological issues raised by the readings and/or seminar questions
  • Analysis: engagement with and evaluation of readings; focus on meaning rather than description; evidence and argument-driven responses to seminar questions

Full details of the marking criteria and guidelines are available here: 

When presenting your primary sources you might want to consider the following:

  • Who has written the source (if known) and their possible motives for doing so. You can use the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for further reference.

  • Consider when the source was written and the significance of this in relation to the topic being discussed and why it is important.
  • You might want to think about the content of the source and its significance for better-understanding the topic or the question, or for understanding the motives of the writer.

  • You could also think about the potential audience of the source - is this addressed to a government, a monarch, an individual, to a literate reading public?
  • Are there any limitations to using a source like this? For example, is a printed pamphlet an accurate reflection of an authors' thoughts and feelings, would a diplomatic letter just be replicating conventional language.
  • Does the source confirm/contest/add nuance or depth to one or more of the propositions from the secondary literature you have read for this course (provide references).
  • You could also consider how this source relates to any of the writing by historians that you have read on this topic. Does it reinforce/challenge/dispute the ideas raised in the secondary literature on this subject?