Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

What do historians do?
What do historians do?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.


After all your hard work you should now:

  • appreciate how historians develop research ideas from different starting points
  • understand some of the choices and processes involved in researching the past
  • have a critical awareness of the wide range of sources historians use for evidence, beyond the textual to include visual, material and physical
  • recognise that historians work within longstanding traditions of learning and knowledge construction.

In this course you have considered just three possible aspects of the historian’s role: challenging preconceptions about the past, using artefacts and working within a tradition of learning. You have also had the chance to examine a range of primary sources and to undertake some record searching. You have encountered a variety of primary sources and learned about how historians use them as evidence. Hopefully you have learned to look carefully at all the evidence, and think twice too! A historian always looks twice, thrice, several times at everything. If you found this enjoyable the next step is to find out what period of history you would like to study.

This OpenLearn course is an example of postgraduate-level study and gives some insight into the study of history you might undertake if you were to study the MA in History (A883/ 4) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .