Oral history

Oral history at the University of Plymouth offers you the chance to work with our leading historians. 

Learning and using this distinctive, compelling, and very un-traditional way of doing history with living, breathing, and talking human beings!

What is oral history?

Oral history is: 

‘the recording of people’s memories, experiences, and opinions’. 

Using a range of interview techniques, you can hear ‘the voices of the past’, rescue ‘history at risk’ of disappearing, and capture ‘living history’ including people and groups who have been ‘hidden from history’ (The Oral History Society, UK).

<p>Recording devices lined up</p>
<p>Oral History - Interview practice - Oliver and Harry</p>

Studying oral history as part of your history degree at Plymouth

You’ll encounter oral history in a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules. 

In our BA, for example, our centrepiece core module is HIST522 – Talking History, Seeing History: Oral History and Visual Sources in History

  • You’ll assemble a toolkit of basic methods in class and in real-world applications. 
  • You’ll develop your own oral history project on a topic of your choice. 
  • Then, take your knowledge and apply it to your historical studies, including your final-year dissertation.  

“Conducting and analysing our own oral history interview, as well as others, gave us a sense of how valuable and interesting these stories are to understanding and preserving the past.”

Kymberley Murray, BA (Hons) History – 2nd year, who conducted an oral history of Dartmoor Prison.

<p>Dartmoor Prison</p>

Dartmoor Prison, Devon


Our students’ oral history research projects


Opportunities to work with leading organisations

Our students have worked with organisations across South West England, nationally, and internationally, to develop innovative projects and acquire employability skills and professional contacts.

Find out about our oral history projects


Previous students' oral history projects

  • ? “WRN’s to RN Voices – A study into the impact of the disbanding of the Women’s Royal Naval Service” – MA dissertation, 2019
  • @ “The Impact of Mexican Immigration on the Rise of Anti-Mexican Sentiment and the Revival of White Supremacy in the United States between 1986-2010” – BA dissertation
  • ? “Reflections of Childhood in Exeter during the Second World War” – BA dissertation, 2017
  • @ “Saddam Hussein’s Invasion of Kuwait: British Human Shield” – HIST522 project, 2018
  • ? “The Golden Milk-Cow: An Analysis of the effects of China’s ‘Economic Miracle’ on society in Shanghai” – BA dissertation, 2019

World-class oral history research at the University of Plymouth

Work with oral historians who boast global reputations for innovation in historical scholarship, community heritage, and community engagement, across a range of topics and time periods (contemporary modern, and even early modern!).

Oral historians at the University