Module Details

HR217-5-SP-CO: Oral History And Life Stories: Research Skills For Historians And Sociologists

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2017/18
Department: History
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: Yes

Supervisor: Dr Xun Zhou
Teaching Staff: Dr Xun Zhou
Contact details: Belinda Waterman, Student Administrator,

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

The module provides both a practical start and also a discussion of the life history and oral history approaches to historical research and the problems in the interpretation of such interviews. As well as giving a grounding in interview skills, the module evaluates the range and possibilities of life history work. It explores issues of memory, subjectivity and the unconscious, ethics, and the narrative construction of oral testimony. This module will be excellent preparation for students who are thinking about using oral history techniques in their IRPs. It also provides an essential training for those who wish to use in-depth interviewing in their future research work. In addition to consider the practical, ethical and theoretical issues involved in life story and oral history research, it will give students opportunities to try their own interviews, going on from this to design, carry out, and write a biographical analysis based on a detailed life story interview. Practical sessions will be interspersed with critical discussion of key texts and approaches in the field.

Learning and Teaching Methods

One-hour lecture and one-hour seminar per week.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


Coursework consists of a recorded interview (35%) and a detailed biographical analysis based on the interview (approximately 4000 words) (60%). There will be a mark of 5% for seminar participation.

Further information