Launch of new History UK Pedagogy Forum

History UK Pedagogy Forum

January 2023 marks the launch of History UK’s new ‘Pedagogy Forum’ – a series of online events designed to motivate discussions about the teaching of History in British universities. We hope the Forum will offer opportunities for critical reflection on the ways we teach, and that it can function as an accessible space in which a diverse range of educators from across higher education can share insights, experiences, and points of best practice.


The first forum discussion is:
The ‘New Normal’? Teaching History ‘After COVID-19’. (25th January 2023, 2.30 pm – 4:00 pm)

Though it is difficult to say that the pandemic is over, with less COVID-19 restrictions on campuses many history departments began transitioning ‘back to normal’ – returning to forms and methods of in-person teaching that have long been a feature of history programmes in HE. Others retained or adapted elements from ‘pandemic pedagogy’. At the same time, there are innovative pedagogical practices being engaged in. In this session, we will explore the state of the field, interrogating the new opportunities and challenges we face as part of the ‘new normal.’

Contributors include:

Dr Cath Feely (University of Derby) and Dr Lucie Matthews-Jones (Liverpool John Moores University): Creative History in the Classroom

Professor Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln) and Dr Marcus Collins (Loughborough University): Post-Pandemic Pedagogy Project

Register for discussion via Eventbrite


While we have some exciting events already scheduled, we are very keen for this to be an open and collaborative endeavour and, as such, warmly welcome ideas and expressions of interest for future events. We are open to different formats (including research papers, reading groups, and roundtables), and are eager to offer a platform to colleagues from a variety of backgrounds, institutions, and career stages.

Please email Dr Sarah Jones ( and Dr Sarah Holland ( with ideas and suggestions.

Reflections on the Academic Job Boot Camp 2022

Vesna Curlic is currently undertaking her PhD in History at the University of Edinburgh, supported by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Her doctoral research examines experiences of immigration, ethnicity, and public health in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More broadly, her research interests include the history of medicine and science, modern immigration law, and public health policy. She splits her time between Edinburgh and her hometown of Toronto, Canada.

It isn’t a great time to be on the job market. This will come to little surprise to any early career researcher. Though the health of the job market is difficult to quantify, things don’t seem to be great. These systemic issues require systemic changes, but doctoral students and early-career researchers (ECRs) still need effective career support in the meantime. There have been some excellent developments in the support offered to doctoral students and ECRs who want to know their options outside of traditional academic positions. The Royal Historical Society recently offered a workshop about non-academic careers, the recording of which is available on their website, as part of their career development programme. Vitae, the UK-based non-profit for researchers’ career development, also offers resources on non-academic jobs, including their publication series called “What do researchers do?” Increasingly, universities themselves are offering support for doctoral students and alumni looking beyond the academy through careers services.

On the other hand, for researchers in pursuit of a traditional academic career, it can be difficult to parse through all the advice and remain hopeful in the face of a difficult job market. In an attempt to combat this, History UK has offered the Academic Job Boot Camp annually since 2016. Having participated in the 2022 event, I am thoroughly convinced that the Academic Job Boot Camp is an exemplary illustration of what practical, useful job market support looks like in the current climate.

The concept of the Boot Camp is straightforward. ECRs apply for the Boot Camp by submitting a cover letter and CV for an imaginary lectureship in an imaginary department. Once accepted, participants prepare a five-minute talk on the question “how does your research inform your teaching practice?” The day of the Boot Camp, each participant gives their presentation, answers questions from the audience, has a mock interview with senior academics with hiring experience, receives feedback, and observes another mock interview. This process is followed by a roundtable Q&A session with the senior academics. After the day is done, participants are sent comprehensive feedback from audience members.

I am a first-generation academic – no one else in my family has gone to university – so my whole academic career thus far has been a process of figuring out each step as I go. The Boot Camp really demystified the experience and made an academic job application and interview feel like a more approachable feat. There were no assumptions made about what people knew or didn’t know. Unspoken expectations were said aloud and explained clearly. It was a refreshingly transparent approach to academia.

A few pieces of advice that stuck out included:

Do your research, but remember that you can never predict everything:

The main point of an interview is assessing how you might fit in with the department’s teaching and research goals, and the university ecosystem as a whole. As a result, there is an expectation that you have done your research about the department’s strengths and priorities, and evidence how your skills complement those areas. However, there are limits to this and mistakes will happen. Many of the senior scholars shared instances when they misread how an interview went or misunderstood a committee’s instructions. There might be times when you tread on an unspoken tension or emphasise the wrong things. You simply must embrace that these things might be out of your control.

Be true to yourself:

This sounds like unhelpful advice, but it wasn’t meant as a flippant ‘just be yourself and everything will work out!’ Instead, the way I understood it, the senior academics were reminding us that applicants have agency in this process too.  In a climate of scarcity, it can feel like we have to mould ourselves to the jobs and apply for anything that comes our way. It was heartening to be reminded to not compromise your values or personality during the job search. The interview committee is hiring, in the case of permanent jobs, a potential colleague for life and you are looking at your possible colleagues for life, too. There has to be a level of interpersonal connection, institutional fit, etc. These amorphous factors can sometimes feel like hurdles, but it is helpful to remember that they work both ways.

Make a Plan B that’s almost as good as your Plan A:

There is a lot of talk about careers for PhDs that are outside the traditional academic teaching and research posts. This is an excellent development, and I personally know many ECRs who have found exciting, fulfilling work beyond the academy. I also know many current doctoral students who are making active plans for work outside the academy, using internships and part-time work alongside their studies to gain relevant experience. I think it makes a lot of sense to have an idea of what else you could do. However, it was also really validating to hear that falling back on your Plan B is allowed to be a little disappointing. The PhD is, at its core, training for a certain kind of academic job. It’s unfair that many qualified, talented people do not end up in academic careers and that’s allowed to sting.


The Boot Camp was the first time I walked away from a job market event feeling more hopeful and more prepared than before. Offering prospective applicants an insight into what it feels like to be interviewed and following up with individualised feedback is an incredible way of supporting ECRs in a difficult market.


Research Resilience reflection 2: Resilience at Leeds University Library Special Collections

This slideshow by Tim Procter (University of Leeds) is the second in a series of reflections linked to the Research Resilience event organised by History UK and The National Archives’ Higher Education Archive Programme (HEAP). You can find out more about the panel discussion and networking event here.

Having problems viewing these slides? You can also view them on the SlideShare website.

Pandemic Pedagogy 2.0: Grace Deignan – Being a History student during the pandemic

In this third post in our follow-up to Pandemic Pedagogy, we thought we would share one of the entries to our student video competition, from Grace Deignan, a third-year History student at the University of Glasgow. Grace offers some reflections on her experiences of student life during the pandemic and has also written a short reflection below. 

“Working online at University has obviously been a huge shift for students all across the country who are continuing to work towards their degree during the COVID pandemic. Online university undoubtedly has its pros and cons. I do consider myself extremely lucky to be in a position where I can still do my classes and feel like I am learning about my subject when I know so many people aren’t in the same position. My lecturers make the effort each week to create some sense of community in the class so that learning doesn’t seem so artificial and show how we can still make friends and have different experiences when we are stuck at home. However, I do greatly miss my life on campus. I believe that having interactive experiences with lecturers, university staff and other students is why most people choose to come to university. I look forward to when I can be back on campus and go back to old teaching methods because whilst online university is a great substitute at the moment, I could never imagine this mode of teaching creating the same level of satisfaction and enjoyment as a permanent shift online.” 

If you would like to contribute a short blog post or podcast/video that addresses how the pandemic has changed or affected history teaching and learning in Higher Education then please email Dr Sarah Holland (, History UK’s Education Officer.

Pandemic Pedagogy – But, what about lectures? 

Louise Creechan (GTA English Literature and Widening Participation, University of Glasgow)

Remote learning? Online delivery? Blended learning? F2F small group learning? Zoom? While universities are developing their own institutional  policies with regard to socially-distant classroom spaces, it remains highly unlikely that we will be filling lecture theatres with 200+ students any time soon. 

Deconstructing and Remodelling the Lecture

We are all familiar with the traditional lecture/seminar course model: several lectures (one or sometimes two hours long)  presented to the full cohort of students registered on a particular course each week, supplemented by a small-group seminar of an hour or so per week. The essential component of this model – the lecture – has been the object of scrutiny for a long time in studies of HE pedagogy. 

Since the 1980s, researchers have cast doubt on the extent that lectures promote deeper learning, arguing that the lecture is a mode of pedagogical practice that privileges certain types of learners, is too lengthy, unengaging, and stifles the development of autonomous thought. There are also accessibility issues that the traditional lecture format can struggle to accommodate. For example: fast-paced speech can make it more difficult for students with slower writing or processing speeds to take adequate notes and the focus on the voice of the lecturer over visual aids can make this medium more difficult for deaf students to follow.

As we move to remote learning, some of the deficiencies of the lecture model are exacerbated. Conducting synchronous live lectures over video conferencing software, such as Zoom or MS Teams, is problematic for the following reasons:

  • High bandwidth required 
  • Difficult to provide real-time captions
  • Requires high level of concentration over a sustained time period which is fatiguing 

table showing asynchronous versus synchronous tools

Source: Daniel Stamford, Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All (

These are all significant access issues which need to be addressed from the outset of our course redesigns. The pandemic offers an opportunity to try out some new approaches. 

So,  what can we do to offer our students an accessible alternative? 

  • Divide your lecture into several smaller chunks – there is a long-standing consensus that attention tends to wander after around 10-15 minutes. While there is some debate about this, students will always appreciate having each sub-topic presented in a separate unit so they can find it more easily for review and revision. 
  • Pre-record small chunks and invite comments from students by posing a question at the end or asking them to look further into topic X and discuss their findings (e.g. on a discussion board). QUB has produced this useful guide to making accessible videos. (Remember that audio recordings, like podcasts, are another viable option.) 
  • Boost engagement with your materials through quizzes and discussion forums.
  • Ask yourself whether you need to relay information to your students for them to achieve their intended learning outcomes. Could they learn by searching for information by themselves? This video from Dr Steven Mintz of the American Historical Association argues that ‘history is not a spectator sport’ and that the best way to learn history is to do history via source gathering ‘scavenger hunts’

What alternatives can we offer our students? Is the pandemic an opportunity to rethink existing pedagogical models? Are lectures useful for remote learning?

We would love to hear your thoughts on how we remodel our lectures to take advantage of remote learning strategies. Please do get in touch with us on Twitter @history_uk to share your experiences. 

Louise tweets at @LouiseCreechan