History MA/MA(SocSci)

The Social Life of Things: Material Culture and Everyday Life HIST4286

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores history through the material objects that people made, consumed, used, and wore, focusing primarily on England and Scotland since 1600. What can be learned about everyday life, gender, and society from people's relationships with their possessions, in a period of growing consumption, when luxury goods have become available to most people?


10x1hr lectures, 5x1hr workshops, and 5x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Essay (2,000 words), 40%

Object Commentary (1,000 words), 20%

Reading Response (1,000 words), 15%

Learning Journal (2,000 words), 25%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Prepare for independent and original analysis of a complex range of evidence, including artefacts, thereby developing intellectual skills that will be of benefit in a wide range of careers.

■ Show how a professional historian works.

■ Familiarise, through source criticism and object analysis, with a wide range of problems of interpretation associated with historical evidence (written, visual or other). .

■ Ensure, through student-led discussion, that the relative validity of alternative historical interpretations and methods is fully recognised.

■ Encourage students to develop the confidence, imagination, skills and self-discipline required to master a similarly demanding brief in the future, whether in historical research or in any sphere or employment where these qualities are valuable.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Critically describe, analyse and assess the historical significance of historical artefacts from museum collections and other sources.

■ Critically evaluate interpretations by historians of material culture, consumption, everyday life, gender, social status, and related themes and apply them in historical arguments.

■ Apply theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from other disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology and sociology, to historical problems.

■ Present well-evidenced and well-constructed analyses both in writing and orally.

■ Reflect on the development of their learning during the course.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.