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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 students are asked to submit their preferences. Class sizes are limited, between 14 and 18 students per option. Students will be assigned to an option by the Faculty, in consideration of their preferences and available spaces, in a process overseen by the convenor of Themes and Sources.  Occasionally, the Faculty may need to withdraw an option before the course starts, and any students who had been assigned to that option would be offered an alternative.

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 2019-2020, examined in 2021

i)     Money and society from late antiquity to the financial revolution
ii)    Royal and princely courts: ancient, medieval and early modern
iv)   Remaking the modern body, 1543-1939
v)    Land, property and power in America, c. 1500-2000
vi)   Comparative histories of race, class & culture: Southern Africa, 1850-2013
vii)  Performance and power in ancient and medieval cities
viii) Imagining Ancient Rome in film, television and popular culture
ix)   The history of collecting
x)   Wealth and poverty in West Africa, from the slave trades to the present
xi)   Utopian writing 1516-1789
xii)  Fighting for Algeria, Fighting for France, 1945-1962 
xiii) Earning a living 1377-1911: work, occupations, gender and economic development in England
xiv) Film and Society 1946-69: the remaking of national identities

Long essay questions will be avilable on Moodle (with restricted access) on Thursday 21 May 2020

Meanwhile, information relating to Themes and Sources options taught 2018-2019 can be found on Moodle.



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