Topics in Historical Computing HIST5074

  • Academic Session: 2015-16
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces key techniques in historical computing, including database management, source criticism, coding, relational data modelling, database construction, information retrieval. Students receive hands-on experience of computer applications commonly used in historical research and teaching, through historical case studies.


10 x 2 hours

5 x 1 hour in the lab

Requirements of Entry

Students enrolling on the course must be entrants for Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





One extended essay of 3,500-4,500 words based upon computer-based research.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The course aims to:

■ build upon the intellectual and analytical skills normally acquired in an undergraduate history programme by focusing on innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to history;

■ provide a practical understanding of those computer applications frequently used in the course of historical research;

■ provide a practical understanding of source criticism, sampling, data modelling, descriptive and basic inferential statistics, and other methods and techniques as appropriate to computer-aided historical research;

■ introduce students to techniques, methodologies, preservation issues, and the presentation of historical resources in a digital format;

■ enable students to select appropriate methods and computer applications based upon their understanding of specific problems in historical interpretation and of the sources that are available to address them;

■ provide a practical understanding of the design, management and implementation of a computer-aided historical investigation;

■ stimulate intellectual development by encouraging individual initiative, personal choice, group discussion and problem-solving team work.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. evaluate critically the strengths and weaknesses of computer applications in historical investigations and choose the appropriate approaches to modelling, preparing and digitising data derived from historical sources in different media for computer-based analysis, including use of metadata and appreciation of design and usability issues;

2. evaluate effectively the strengths and weaknesses of the historical arguments of others in light of the alternative methods, measures and forms of evidence, and make effective use of computer-based and other evidence to support their own historical interpretations;

3. demonstrate technical competence in the use of the major applications of computers to historical study, including software for managing data;

4. assemble and assess material from a variety of sources, such as libraries, archives, the Internet, published sources and statistics;

5. construct and defend a coherent argument, both in writing and through oral presentations;

6. work effectively and collaboratively in small groups to solve specific historical problems and to evaluate different theoretical and methodological approaches to the research process.