The Public Communication and Understanding of History

Alun Lewis (course leader) provides a brief synopsis of the course and how these transferable  skills can be used outside of academia.

History often sounds better than it looks. In fact the best way to communicate complex historical ideas is to use the medium of radio – which is one of the reasons why the History department has been running its successful Public History MA course for the last four years.

The public communication and understanding of history module is a one term long exercise to create either a radio programme or a short video on a chosen subject. The students learn how to: devise a programme from scratch; how to plan for and interview subjects – experts and the public alike; how to edit those interviews; how to use archive recordings, and how to recreate the past through dramatisation. Finally the material is mixed with a script (read by the students) to create a finished programme. As a first exercise the class is split into groups who have to create a short audio guide about some aspect of Royal Holloway. During this exercise they learn the tools of the radio/video maker’s trade.

At the end of the course the students will have a variety of transferrable communication skills that are equally useful in getting a job, and working well in a team. There are more and more openings for the skills learned here – museums, art galleries, The National Trust, historic sites from castles to homes, and of course broadcasters from the BBC to the History Channel and independent programme producers not to mention the Web.  Whether it’s an audio guide, a pod cast, streamed audio or video, or a broadcast the tools needed are the ones we provide on this course.


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