Kingship in Ancient Iran – Upcoming Lectures and Workshop

cropped-Ardashir_investitureMr Arash Zeini, of the St Andrews School of History, will be giving a series of public lectures over the coming weeks on the topic of ‘Kingship in ancient Iran’. The first of these, ‘ Mythical kings, empire, and multiculturalism: The case of the Achaemenids’, will be taking place on Wednesday 30th April at 5.30pm in the School of Classics, Swallowgate, room 11.

The subject of the lectures will receive further attention in a workshop convened by Mr Zeini on the 12th and 13th June this year. Anyone interested in attending should write to iran@st-andrews.ac.uk to express their interest. The public lectures are open to all.

ISHR workshop: A Laboratory for Improvement? 24 January 2014

File:New Caledonia in Darien.jpgOn Friday 24 January the Institute of Scottish Historical Research hosted a workshop, A Laboratory for Improvement? Scotland in the 1680s and 90s, led by ISHR Visiting Scholar Dr Esther Mijers. It was an opportunity to discuss a planned edited collection of essays on Scotland in the late Restoration and post-Revolution period, as part of Dr Mijer’s project on William Carstares. Dr Mijers said: ‘I have always been struck by the dynamism of the 1680s, both in my work on universities and on Atlantic history, as opposed to the grim situation of the 1690s. I think that this is an area that has suffered neglect over the years and needs reassessment, and this workshop was a first step.’ Topics discussed focused on ideas and examples of ‘improvement’, such as the modernisation of the University of Edinburgh, the attempts by the Privy Council to reinvigorate the economy and ideas of agricultural improvement and landownership, and their development. Comparisons were made with England and the Continent. It was a lively debate which stimulated a lot of new ideas and gave plenty food for thought.

Enhancing Student Learning: PG-led Workshops for Undergraduates

Senior postgraduate Hannah Grenham writes for the School of History on the Workshops for Undergraduates scheme.

For the past two years, postgraduate students in the School of History have been developing a programme of workshops designed to help undergraduates learn the key skills for studying history. The programme tackles issues such as referencing correctly, finding and using primary sources, and engaging with historiography, and aims to serve as a means of enhancing students’ development as historians outside the time constraints of weekly tutorials. They also offer students the chance to engage with postgraduates in the School in an informal and relaxed atmosphere, allowing them to ask any questions they may have about essay writing or academic history in general. At the same time, the postgraduate students who lead the workshops benefit from the opportunity to develop their own lesson planning and teaching skills.

The programme has been devised and coordinated by Hannah Grenham, Eilidh Harris, and Kimberley Knight, while individual sessions are organised and presented by postgraduate students from across the School of History. Workshops are divided between Mediaeval and Modern History in order to cater to some of the differences in each of the degree prorgammes, and are generally focused towards sub-honours students as they transition from secondary education to the more specialist requirements of university-level history. In each workshop, students are encouraged to engage with sample material, work through practical examples, and discuss any particular difficulties that they have.

The workshops have been well-received by students, who have praised the sessions in feedback as ‘really useful’ and ‘always super helpful’. ‘I feel more relaxed about writing an essay now,’ one student responded, while another thanked workshop leaders for ‘making sources much less daunting’. The programme as a whole is developed in line with the feedback received from students, in order to tailor the workshops closely to students’ needs.

This year, the workshop programme is financially supported by the School of History, and has recently been awarded funding under the Scotland-wide Enhancement Theme scheme, as part of the current theme of Developing and Supporting the Curriculum. This funding will allow for the production of higher-quality materials as well as the chance to compile a portfolio of material to enable the continuation of the workshop programme in future years.

In 2014, there are plans to run workshop sessions on topics including postgraduate study and using the University’s Special Collections. It is hoped that the workshop programme will become an established part of the School of History and that it will continue to develop and grow, creating links and establishing a sense of community among undergraduate and postgraduate students in the School.