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Employability in the History Curriculum

Employability in the Curriculum: the Applied History module

This project is being led by Dr Alison Twells, in the Department of Humanities at Sheffield Hallam University.

We have taught Community History on the third year of the undergraduate History degree at SHU for a number of years. On this module, students work with an external community history group or public history/ heritage organisation to create something 'of use' to that external partner.


Over the years, students have produced some excellent and interesting work, including a set of oral history interviews with women in mining communities for the Kiveton Park and Wales History Project; oral history interviews for Barnsley Museum and education resources for the Sheffield Traditional Heritage Museum and for Wild Rose Heritage project in Hebden Bridge.

The aim of the project is to expand and embed key employability elements into the module. From September 2011, we are running a new 40 credit, Level 5 module, titled Applied History. This adopts a similar format to Community History, but the work-related project runs for much longer, between November and March, enabling students to get really involved in their project. This is sandwiched between two ‘employability’ components. In September and October, invited external speakers (all history graduates) talk about their own careers, in a range of fields, including museums and heritage, school teaching, oral history and health, and archives. At the end of the second semester, students will focus on packaging their experience for a prospective employer: putting together a CV, a personal statement and giving a presentation.

The aims of the module are to enable students

  • to gain understanding and experience of the variety of ways in which history is ‘applied’ in the contexts of work and community;
  • to provide the academic and research skills necessary to undertake project work in one of these fields;
  • to introduce students to the developments in postwar British social history which have seen the development of the heritage industry and the growing popularity of family, community and oral history;
  • to introduce students to current issues in schools’ history;
  • to develop career management skills.

During the course of this year, the project leader has designed the module and grappled with issues of delivery, and continues this semester to build on links with community history groups and public history and heritage sites and organisations in the region in order to develop a strong profile of work-related projects, to explore health & safety and other administrative/support requirements, to design the assessment for the module, and to collaborate with the Careers Service in the development of the careers management component.

Key developments on the Applied History module will be reported in summer 2011.

Find out more about teaching and learning resources on a variety of topics by visiting the main History Subject Centre website.


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Work-related learning in higher education - a HEA report by Neil Moreland