History in the Classroom

Module code: HS2360

Module co-ordinator: Roey Sweet

Module Outline

This module combines practical work in a local Leicester school with a seminar programme on the history of education and the politics of teaching history at primary and secondary level. Its aim is to equip our students with the experience and knowledge required to get onto the PGCE, provide our students with demonstrable work experience and employability skills, increase contact between local schools and the University, and to let local school children get to know a University of Leicester student so that they will think of applying to university (and, best of all, think of applying to do History at Leicester). 

History in schools is currently contested territory, featuring daily in newspapers as the government, experts, and teachers battle for ownership of the terrain. How should history be taught in schools? Should the focus be on learning about the key events of ‘Our Island Story‘ or a thematic overview of global trends? Does the right sort of history create the right sort of citizen? Who should decide what is taught: teachers, professional historians, or politicians? This course seeks to familiarise the student with these issues, and moreover, with the practicalities of history education. Students will be allocated to a Leicester school, which they will visit weekly over a ten-week period, where they will undertake hands-on work in the classroom, helping the teacher in instructing the class, aiding the students with learning, and providing them with an opportunity to think critically about what makes a good history teacher. Alongside this weekly practical work, the group will meet three times during the semester, to discuss their experiences, and to think more broadly about the politics of history education in historical context.

Course aims and objectives

By the end of this module you will:

1. Develop an understanding of how history is taught in schools
2. Understand how and why history teaching in schools has changed over the twentieth century, both in terms of content and pedagogy
3. Gain practical experience of working in the classroom and communicating history to primary/secondary students


The key focus of the module will be the 3 hours a week that you will spend in the classroom: how this time is spent shall be decided in conjunction with the teacher. Alongside this practical work, there will be three 2 hour seminars and two one hour tutorials in the second semester.


1. Practical Portfolio (3,000 words) (50%)
2. Teaching Assessment (qualifying element: pass/fail)
3. Long essay (4,000 words) (50%)