Student Feedback

You made me fill in all those feedback forms, but what happens to them next?

After each workshop we ask you to fill in a feedback form; the workshop coordinators (Hannah and Eilidh) sit and go through them with the Workshop presenters- we always take a note of any written feedback that has been provided.

The forms are then handed to CAPOD, who collate the results from the check-boxes and scan in any written comments.  We are proud to say that so far feedback on the workshops for the first semester has been very positive- it’s great to hear that they have been helpful to so many of you!

Please remember that if you have any suggestions- either on content or format- just drop Hannah or Eilidh an e-mail.  We are keen to create a dialogue with the students in the School of History so that we can tailor the workshops to your needs.

Student views:

One student wrote the following review of the first semester workshops:

Over the course of this semester I attended 6 skills workshops designed at enhancing my study of history.  As a first year studying both Medieval and Modern History, I found that they really helped me to bridge the gap between A-level and university level, as it was quite a big jump and learning is now expected to be much more independent. The workshops were particularly useful because my lectures and tutorials are centred on content rather than technique. The ‘Exam Revision in History’ workshop for example, helped me to think about how I would tackle the daunting prospect of revision, something which isn’t covered in lectures. Another handy thing about the workshops is that they are a great way to meet other historians studying in St Andrews as well as members of staff with whom you might be working in the future. As such, I would really recommend attending the workshops to anyone who has the chance to do so.

Sally Whiteside, First Year, History


Getting to Grips with Primary Sources

In this week’s workshop, we tackled the challenge of analysing primary sources in ‘gobbet’ exercises. This is a common type of assessment in Sub-Honours History modules, so first we discussed why these kinds of exercises are so important. Source analysis encourages students to get to grips with primary material, and being able to read and interpret these sources critically as historical evidence is a key skill for historians.

Source analyses are essentially exercises in deconstruction, requiring the historian to interrogate a piece of evidence and draw out as much information as possible. Knowing the right kinds of question to ask is important; in particular, instead of asking ‘What does this say?’, students should ask themselves ‘What does this tell me?’

Although there are many different ways to produce a source analysis, we suggested one method of structuring such an assessment, consisting of context, analysis, and evaluation. As an example, we used an extract from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Journeys to England and Ireland (1835) and analysed what it could tell us about the impact of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester. Then it was the turn of students! Using a variety of sources, students were split into groups and asked to analyse these extracts critically, just as they would have to in a piece of assessed coursework. With examples from a Wilfred Owen poem, a Winston Churchill speech, and the American Declaration of Independence, students had a range of sources to get stuck into. It quickly emerged that there was a whole host of information to be gleaned from these sources! Students were able to successfully put them into context, analyse their content, and evaluate their usefulness as historical evidence, and hopefully left the workshop feeling more confident about their ability to handle primary material.

For more detail on the workshop, the materials are available via the History Workshop Moodle page. Check out these links for more useful information on working with primary sources:

Exam Tip:

You are not expected to remember lots of primary material for your exams – but it is always impressive if you can include something! Try learning the important names or a key word or two from certain sources, as these will show your examiner that you know what you are talking about.

Library and Research Orientation Sessions

We are pleased to announce the launch of our Library and Research Orientation sessions, starting next week!

These are designed to complement our skills specific workshops by providing students with an opportunity to practise research skills in a structured practical session, which will concentrate on using the Library to best effect.

Students will be introduced to some of the key online resources useful when studying history, and be given advice about how to undertake research for an essay successfully and create a bibliography of relevant reading.

The sessions will be taking place on Wednesdays at lunchtime in Group Study Room 6 (Level Four) of the University Library.

See the Moodle page in order to sign up.  Places are limited, so please sign up early!  We may be able to run extra sessions if there is enough demand!

We look forward to seeing you at a Library or session workshop soon!

Hannah & Eilidh

History Skills Workshop Co-ordinators

History Workshops 2014!

Designed and delivered by postgraduate tutors in the School of History, these interactive workshops are designed to provide support for undergraduate students during their time as student of History at the University of St Andrews.

You can find out about the programme of workshops for this semester here, and get information on how to sign up for the workshops here.  Registration for workshops will open up one- two weeks before the workshop is scheduled.

To find out about the background to the Workshops click on About.

Library sessions

This year we will also be offering a series of Library skills sessions aimed at students in History (particularly those in first year).  These will be held within the first few weeks of term and are designed to offer an introduction to key resources, and to provide some library orientation for those who haven’t used the University Library before!


Keep an eye out for our blog posts which will keep you up to date with events and provide useful links to further study material and resources.