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HAP Graduate-Led Classes

HAP Graduate-Led Classes


To provide the opportunity for registered PhDs in their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year to lead a discussion session with third-year undergraduates and to provide the opportunity for third-year undergraduates to engage in directed discussion regarding key issues in HAP.

Who can attend?

Registered PhD students in their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year.

Where can I find out more?

This information is in the Graduate Training Booklet, which you can access via The History Faculty's Moodle page, under Graduate Training here. You can also email the HAP Convenor, Dr Rachel Leow: 

The Faculty would welcome the assistance of PhD students in teaching the core undergraduate paper Historical Argument and Practice (HAP). Undergraduates would greatly benefit from your enthusiasm for the subject and state-of-the-art insight into scholarly practice. We therefore run a programme of graduate-led classes for third-year undergraduate historians. We hope leading a class would appeal to many of you. So doing would provide you with (paid) experience of small-group teaching. Leading classes is an important aspect of being a lecturer, especially in other universities. Cambridge’s supervision model provides few opportunities for practising teaching small groups: these classes provide one such opportunity. We greatly value your participation and try to make it as beneficial as possible (for instance, through helping to collate feedback that could be used in a job application). If you are interested, then please read on.

First, what is HAP?

HAP is examined in in the third year of the undergraduate degree. It is intended to be a consummation of the undergraduate’s study, challenging her/him to draw on her/his entire knowledge of the past. The paper encourages students to reflect on broad issues of historical understanding and practice arising out of their work over all three years of the undergraduate degree. The paper is a means of enabling candidates to raise and discuss fundamental questions and relate their knowledge of specialised fields to more general themes of historical inquiry and explanation.

HAP is not a theory paper.  Conceptual and theoretical thinking is important for doing well on the paper. But the paper is not an invitation to rehearse theory!  Rather, it is an opportunity for undergraduates to develop general concepts and arguments in relation to historical evidence gained through studying different periods and times.

Nor is HAP is a historiography paper.  A historiographical perspective is very helpful in writing a good HAP essay, but the historiographical perspective has to be developed in conjunction with the exploration of a range of historical evidence.

HAP asks undergraduates to adopt a panoramic conceptual perspective under which they organize historical material from a range of papers.  A good HAP essay will have a conceptual unity, deploying historical evidence from different periods and places and possibly from different historical sub-disciplines.

Second, how does the Faculty teach HAP?

In Michaelmas and Lent terms, the Faculty runs a lecture programme, consisting of two strands:

  • A set of fourteen lectures covering historiographical themes
  • A set of fourteen lectures introducing ‘Concepts and Problems’

The graduate-led classes are connected to the ‘Concepts and Problems’ lecture series. We aim to offer undergraduates the option of attending a class on each of the sixteen topics.

The lecture programme (with further information about HAP) is available at:   

Third, how do graduate-led HAP classes fit into HAP teaching?

The graduate-led classes are different in nature from the ‘Concepts and Problems’ lectures.  In 2018-19, each class will consist of two parts. The first will be a lecture delivered by a current third or fourth-year PhD that draws on their research. As such, the lecture will provide another dimension on the concept or problem to that offered in the lecture series. The PhD student will then, in the second part of the class, lead a reading seminar. The classes therefore allow a small-group, participatory and interactive learning setting to complement the provision of the lecture programme. The graduate-student teacher’s task is to stimulate, animate and lead a discussion.  To allow for an interactive class, classes are capped, flexibly, at about 20 undergraduates.

Graduate-led HAP classes are held in Lent term. They follow the order of the ‘Concepts and Problems’ lecture series.  This sequencing allows you and the undergraduates to attend the relevant lecture and do some thinking and reading before the class. Undergraduates are required to sign up for classes in advance. This requirement allows the graduate teacher to contact the undergraduates in advance and propose reading or questions or other teaching-related matters.

One important thing to note is that HAP teaching is done from the standpoint of the generalist. Anyone teaching HAP within the Faculty has to think beyond the boundaries of her/his specialism. Your class will contain undergraduates who have taken very different combinations of paper, because – as noted already – HAP is the only compulsory paper. So lectures and classes need to find ways of engaging people whose primary interest might be far from your own (whether medieval Europe, modern Britain, the extra-European world, or so on).

Finally, how do you get involved?

The HAP Convenor will call for applications to lead an HAP class in September.  This is your chance to express an interest.  If at all possible, you ought to attend a short training session with the HAP Convenor. This training session will be held on Wednesday 15 November in the History Faculty (details on the training calendar).

Questions about graduate-led HAP classes can be directed either to the Ph.D. administrator ( or to the HAP convenor Dr Rachel Leow ( 



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