Details for Historical Theory and Method

This subject replaced HIS290 in Semester 1 2023. This is a core subject for a Major in Modern History.

Quick Info

  • Currently offered by Alphacrucis: Yes
  • Course code: HIS390
  • Credit points: 10
  • Subject coordinator: Daniel Carrigy


The following courses are prerequisites:

Awards offering Historical Theory and Method

This unit is offered as a part of the following awards:

Unit Content


  1. Analyse and effectively communicate the nature of historiography and various key issues, actors and arguments.
  2. Analyse the context and effectively examine an existing school of historical thought, contrasting and constructing a viable alternative which integrates Christian faith and learning, in a form and at a level suitable to the discipline;
  3. Research, analyse and apply knowledge about a range of historiographical concepts and/or thinkers in ways which demonstrate an understanding of the historiographical enterprise.
  4. Examine the key writers and the secondary reflective literature in a bibliography which contrasts and differentiates two schools of historiography and demonstrates significant personal engagement.

Subject Content

  1. What is History? Introduction to the epistemology of disciplines, key philosophers of history (Vico, Hegel, Croce, Collingwood, Foucault, etc.) and their temporal contexts, and the key questions; Actors and causality; Scale, perspective/ objectivity and ‘general laws’; ‘Spirit’ in history (proximate, penultimate and ultimate causalities); Human nature (universal or temporal?); telos, dialectics and determinism; hermeneutics; middle level historical ontologies (history as practice/craft; ‘things’ and ‘facts’ in historical thinking, etc.).
  2. The institutional locations of history: monastery (Bede, the Bollandists); romano-Greek academy (Augustine, Eusebius); Empire; Nation and the 19th century University (division of ecclesiastical and ‘secular’ history); globalism and the 20th century University; media and the popular(ist) historian.
  3. The ‘science vs. art’ debate - Bury and Trevelyan; the great narrative historians, Collingwood on the nature of knowledge and aesthetics.
  4. The objectivity debate and social history: Elton vs. Carr; E. P. Thompson, Christopher Hill and Revolutions in History; imputing emotions (psychohistory and prosopography)
  5. The use of the social sciences in history: The Annales School (Bloch, Febvre, Aries); Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms; Robert Darnton, Clifford Geertz  and 'The Great Cat Massacre'; Stark, Wright, Bauckham and revisioning early Christianity.
  6. The rise and fall of ‘post-’, mediated and popular histories; Haydn White, Michel Foucault, Niall Fergusson, Simon Schama, the HBOisation of history.
  7. ‘Universal’, world and transnational histories (from the 17th century to the present) in an absence of meaning.
  8. Christian responses: Belief in History; The ‘Chicago School’ (Noll, Marsden, Hatch, etc.); The Conference on Faith and History (USA); British historians and their thought (Butterfield, Bebbington, etc.); Australian Christian Historians (Fletcher, O’Farrell, Mansfield, Piggin, et al); Christian historiography in the majority world (Hanciles, Kalu, Kim, Shah, etc).

This course may be offered in the following formats

  • Face-to-face (on campus)
  • Online (e-Learning)
  • Intensive
  • Extensive

Please consult your course prospectus or enquire about how and when this course will be offered next at Alphacrucis University College.

Assessment Methods

  • Case Study (25%)
  • Major Essay (50%)
  • Forum Postings (10%)
  • Annotated Bibliography (15%)

Prescribed Text

  • Primary readings provided