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Themes and Sources (Part I Paper 1)

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Themes and Sources papers are taught by Faculty classes. These involve a different style of study from the weekly essay. Teaching takes place in classes at regular intervals in the last two terms of the first year. Presentations by option teachers are held in the first teaching week of Michaelmas term, after which first year undergraduates are asked to choose their option.

Options typically take a broad theme in comparative history (such as gender, race, Christianity or film) and investigate continuities and changes over time. Several options are based on a close reading of primary source material, and examine the problems involved in using such sources.

Other options explore big themes over long periods of time; or there may be a combination of theme-based and source-based approaches. Some options may also involve the use of visual material. Those who have followed source-based courses at school will find these approaches quite familiar.

Themes and Sources is a compulsory paper in Part I (Paper 1), and is assessed by means of a Long Essay (3000-5000 words) on one of a variety of set questions. This involves extensive individual research. It is set in May of the first year and submitted in January of the second year, so most of the work for it is done in the intervening vacations.

Themes and Sources options to be taught 2018-2019, examined in 2020

  1. Money and society from late antiquity to the financial revolution
  2. Royal and princely courts: ancient, medieval and early modern
  3. Religious conversion and colonialism
  4. Remaking the modern body, 1543-1939
  5. The Bandung moment: revolution and anti-imperialism in the twentieth century
  6. Comparative histories of race, class & culture: Southern Africa, 1850-2013
  7. Performance and power in ancient and medieval cities
  8. Sacred histories
  9. The history of collecting (Not running 2018-19)
  10. Wealth and poverty in West Africa, from the slave trades to the present
  11. Utopian writing 1516-1789
  12. Fighting for Algeria, Fighting for France, 1945-1962 
  13. Imagining Ancient Rome in film, television and popular culture
  14. Film and history, 1929-1945
  15. World environmental history

Long essay questions will be available here (on Moodle with restricted access) on Thursday 23 May 2019

Meanwhile, information relating to Themes and Sources options taught 2017-2018 can be found here 



35mm film negativeSupporting documents for Themes and Sources

Themes and Sources Long Essay Guidance

Faculty Style Guide

Guidance on plagiarism

Themes and Sources Past Papers 

Long Essay cover sheets and declaration form