What is Local History?

Course summary

  • Mon 04 Sep 2017 to Thu 21 Sep 2017
  • 7:00-9:00pm 6 meetings
  • Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA
  • From £125.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O17P520LHW
  • ppweekly@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)1865 280892
  • Course ended

What is Local History?


Have you ever tried to trace your family history? Do you wonder what sort of people lived in your local community in the past or worshipped in its church? Or how the community might have been affected by major historical events? Or how many people lived there in past centuries?

This introduction to local history may be just what you are seeking. It will concentrate on the approaches, sources, and methods used by local historians in researching the history of the manor, the parish, the town and the local population. It seeks to show how varied and exciting the study of local communities can be. It will also advise you how and from where to collect relevant material, and help you to communicate the results of your research in writing.

Programme details

Monday 4th Sept: Introduction: What is local history?

Thursday 7th Sept: Local history through the manor

Monday 11th Sept: Local history through the parish

Thursday 14th Sept: Local history through the town

Monday 18th Sept:  Counting the local population through the ages

Thursday 21st Sept: Discussion of assingment work; useful websites for local history


Background Reading:

Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath

David Hey, The Oxford Companion to Family and Local Family History

David Hey, The Grass Roots of English History

W. G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape

Keith Wrightson, Ralph Tailor's Summer

Joy Bristow, Local Historian's Glossary of Words and Phrases

If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.


Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List


Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to do so.


Course fee: £125.00
Take this couse for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Heather Falvey

Heather is an active local historian with a variety of research interests including early modern riots and eighteenth century recipes.  Amongst other publications, she has co-edited two books of fifteenth century wills. 

Course aims

The overall aim is to encourage students to discover for themselves what local history is, to give them an introduction to its contents and methodology, and to demonstrate where evidence for it may be found.

Course Objectives

1. To equip students to undertake further courses in local and social history. 

2. To encourage students  to pursue their interest in local history, whether on their own or with a group.

3. To enable students to undertake local history research using various source materials.


Teaching methods

The course will comprise an introductory session; four informal illustrated lectures, followed by class discussion of documents (which will be supplied); a concluding discussion of issues raised during the course and practical guidance on suitable websites for historical research.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. Have gained an introductory knowledge of local history and its sources and methods.

2. Have learned how to collect and interpret material and communicate the results logically in writing.

3. Have gained confidence in and enthusiasm for the subject.

Assessment methods

Students will be expected to write one short assignment (1,500 words maximum) evaluating some examples of local history. The source material will be supplied.  This work must be handed in on the 3rd Monday and will returned marked on the 3rd Thursday.  This will be assessed, but not graded.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)