lfial1430  2017-2018  Louvain-la-Neuve

4 credits
30.0 h + 10.0 h
Van Ypersele Laurence;
Main themes
The timetable is allocated as follows: 30 hrs of formal lectures, 10 hrs of exercises and 30 hrs of independent learning. The formal lectures will set out the different stages of historical criticism. We underline the significance of the issues and documentary research in undertaking proper scientific research. Next, we move on to review different types of sources, what they add to our understanding of the past and what their limitations are. Then we will tackle the stages of external criticism, internal criticism and confronting witness accounts, systematically and with the help of real examples.  Finally, we will broach a synthesis based upon the issues of causality and meaning. The practical section introduces students to the application of criticism rules to various documents and to writing a scientific synthesis on the basis of one or two concrete cases. The course will ensure that students are aware of plagiarism and the concept of intellectual property.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


Acquiring basic skills in the field of information criticism is an indispensable tool for research, particularly in the humanities, in order to validate the evidence upon which that research will be founded and to make moves towards scientific objectivity. It is an equally important process for any responsible citizen who wishes to verify the relevance of the information he receives on a daily basis. That process originates directly from historical criticism. The course objective is for students to learn the rules of historical criticism.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
On one hand this course sets out the critical method as developed by historians (theoretical section) and on the other applies this method on the basis of real documents (practical section).
Teaching methods
30 hrs theory and 10 hrs of exercises
Evaluation methods
Assessment will be via a written exam, the first part of which will assess knowledge of the theoretical framework and the second, the ability to employ that theoretical framework in the analysis of documents which have not previously been seen on the course
Other information
LFIAL1430 and LTHEO1130 are partially equivalent.
Course LTHEO1130, Introduction to History, can replace LFIAL1430, Historical Criticism, but not vice versa: a student who has passed LFIAL1430 will be excused from attending the 30 hrs of LTHEO1130 currently supervised by L. Courtois, but must attend the remaining 30 hours.
Online resources
Support : site iCampus. Support (pour le plagiat) : site iCampus (, pages UCL (, etc.)
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in History

Bachelor in French and Romance Languages and Literatures : General

Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures: German, Dutch and English

Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Minor in History

Minor in Medieval Studies