Areas of Study in History

History in Words.
History in Words.

This involves examining history within a certain period, i.e. Tudor period 1485-1603 or Victorian period 1837-1901. This could also be by century, for example, looking at the 20th century, or even decade i.e. 1940s. The ways historians divide history down into periods reflect judgments made on the past.
* Sample questions:-
1) How successful were Tudor rebellions between 1485 and 1603?
2) What were the most pivotal events in the Cold War 1945 – 1991 and why?
3) How did England grow into an industrial nation throughout the 19th century?
* Sample literature:-
1) A.N. Wilson, ‘The Victorians’
2) David Loades, ‘The Tudors: History of a Dynasty’
3) Henry Freeman, ‘Roman Britain: a History from Beginning to End’

Geographical history can involve examining history in a particular country, region or city. For example, local history is becoming more popular, like the history of north-east England or the history of Glasgow. Landscapes, weather and the availability of supplies all affect the people who live and work in a particular place.
* Sample questions:-
1) How important was mining to the north of England in the early 20th century?
2) How did the United States of America develop between the wars 1918 – 1939?
3) Discuss the different ways the Vietnamese used their knowledge of the country to fight off the Americans during the Vietnam War?
* Sample literature:-
1) Howard Zinn, ‘A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present’
2) Mary Fulbrook, ‘A History of Germany 1918-2014: the Divided Nation’
3) Peter Ackroyd, ‘The History of England Vol. 1: Foundation’

Examining history from a political point of view, focusing on governmental decisions and the mechanics of the state, helps to understand the development of political structures. It is particularly related to diplomatic history due to its focus on government and political events.
* Sample questions:-
1) How did Oliver Cromwell destruction of the monarchy in the 1640s and 1650s bring back a resurgence of the monarchy in the 1660s?
2) What effect did Henry VIII’s “great matter” have on the political structure of England in the 16th century?
3) To what extent do we owe our current political system to the Tudors?
* Sample literature:-
1) Chris Bryant, ‘Parliament: the Biography’
2) Timothy Snyder, ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century’
3) Stephen Lee, ‘Aspects of British Political History 1815-1914’

Military history involves the study of a particular war or battle, or the development of the navy or new weapons. It also examines the impact of armed conflict on societies, cultures, economies and changing international relations.
* Sample questions:-
1) “Because it seemed so indecisive, Jutland was sometimes called “the battle that was never fought”. Discuss.
2) Why was the use of poison gas in World War One so important to the history of warfare?
3) Why has the use of cavalry in battles declined?
* Sample literature:-
1) Michael Jones, ‘Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle’
2) Nick Jellicoe, ‘Jutland: the Unfinished Battle’
3) Stephen Bungay, ‘The Most Dangerous Enemy: a History of the Battle of Britain’

Biographical history focuses on an individual rather than an event or period of time – it focuses on the effect a person has on history. It should look at more than just the events and facts of a person’s life; it should examine the person’s experience of the events.
* Sample questions:-
1) Why did Anne Boleyn fall from power in 1536?
2) Why was Queen Victoria known as the “Grandmother of Europe”?
3) Does Richard III deserve his reputation as a child-killer?
* Sample literature:-
1) Eric Ives, ‘The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn’
2) Ian Kershaw, ‘Hitler’
3) Antonia Fraser, ‘Marie Antoinette: the Journey’

Social history examines the changes within society, not just the royal family and nobility, but the whole strata of society, with relation to urbanisation, labour and ethnic history, history of the family and history of education. It has become more popular throughout the 20th century.
* Sample questions:-
1) What opportunities were there for members of the working-classes to participate in the government of Victorian cities?
2) What impact did the Victorians have on the schooling system in England?
3) Did evacuation during World War Two give London children a better standard of living?
* Sample literature:-
1) E.P. Thompson, ‘The Making of the English Working Class’
2) Keith Thomas, ‘Religion and the Decline of Magic: Popular Beliefs in 16th and 17th Century England’
3) Laurence Rees, ‘The Holocaust: a New History’

Religious history examines the developing changes in religion. Topics range from political, cultural and artistic to beliefs and liturgy and theology. As we have come to understand more religions, this field has expanded, as it initially focused on Christianity in Europe at least, and contrasting views of heresy.
* Sample questions:-
1) What impact did Martin Luther’s 95 Theses have on European religious history?
2) Was Henry VIII’s Break with Rome religiously motivated?
3) How far was the Glorious Revolution of 1688 carried out on religious grounds?
* Sample literature:-
1) Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700’
2) Lyndal Roper, ‘Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet’
3) Thomas Asbridge, ‘The Crusades: the War for the Holy Land’

Diplomatic history discusses relations between two or more countries, for example trade agreements, and peace treaties. It can also examine the causes of war, peace and human rights. Generally, it examines continuity and changes in relationships.
* Sample questions:-
1) Discuss the relationship between England and Spain 1485 – 1515?
2) What effect did the Treaty of Versailles have on European relations 1918-1939?
3) How did relations between England and France deteriorate during the Hundred Year’s War?
* Sample literature:-
1) Karl Marx, ‘Secret Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century’
2) Frederic Bozo, ‘A History of the Iraq Crisis: France, the United States and Iraq 1991-2003’
3) Katie Hickman, ‘Daughters of Britannia: the Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives’

Economic history can divide into several sections, including business history, labour regulations, and the impact of the changing economy upon society as a whole. It tends to also encompass demographic and labour history as closely related entities.
* Sample questions:-
1) What were the causes of the Wall Street Crash in 1929?
2) How did the development of the economy lead to urbanisation in Britain in the 19th century?
3) How far was Kett’s rebellion in 1549 due to economic pressures?
* Sample literature:-
1) Charles River Editors, ‘Black Tuesday: the History of Legacy of the Wall Street Crash of 1929’
2) Niall Ferguson, ‘The Ascent of Money: a Financial History of the World’
3) John Keay, ‘The Honourable Company: a History of the English East India Company’

Gender history looks at the past from the perspective of gender, and has grown out of women’s history. Women were often sidelined in early historical works, but their contributions to the world are now being recognised. The rise of gender history has resulted in more women being published and more biographies about famous women being written.
* Sample questions:-
1) What involvement did women have in the European Reformation in the 16th century?
2) How important were the different contributions of men and women to World War One?
3) In what ways were women treated differently to men in terms of the law in the 16th and 17th centuries?
* Sample literature:-
1) Merry Wiesner-Hanks, ‘Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe’
2) Hannah Grieg & Jane Hamlett, ‘Gender and Material Culture in Britain Since 1600’
3) Sonya Rose, ‘What is Gender History?’

Intellectual history encompasses the study and history of ideas as well as a focus on intellectuals and their works. The central focus is on the fact that ideas don’t develop in isolation from the people who create and use them – ideas should be studied in the historical contexts that produced them.
* Sample questions:-
1) How did the First World War create the idea that would evolve into Nazism in Germany?
2) How did Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man” contribute to the development of republicanism in the west?
3) How far did Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” contribute to the development of the Reformation in Europe?
* Sample literature:-
1) Iain Hampher-Monk, ‘A History of Modern Political Thought: Major Political Thinkers from Hobbes to Marx’
2) Anthony Gottlieb, ‘The Dream of Reason: a History of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance’
3) Adolf Hitler, ‘Mein Kampf’

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