Heritage Resources Management (HERM) 312

Heritage Research (Revision 3)

HERM 312

View previous revision

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: HERM 312 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—with HIST 316. (HERM 312 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for HIST 316.) Also, students who complete HERM 312/HIST 316 will not be eligible to register in HERM 512.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Heritage Resources Management Home Page

HERM 312 is not available for challenge.

Check availability


HERM 312 is based on the premise that the principles of historical thinking and analysis are fundamental to heritage practice. The course focuses on the practice, skills, and understandings of applied historical research. Heritage research provides balanced and accurate information for the identification, collection, documentation, evaluation, conservation, and interpretation of a broad range of heritage resources, both tangible and intangible.

HERM 312 introduces multiple sources of evidence ranging from documentary—comprising textual and visual sources—to oral interviews, artifacts, archaeological resources, buildings, and cultural landscapes. The course includes extensive web-based readings and introduces the use of online search tools and digital resource collections in libraries, archives, and museums. Attention is given to interpreting primary documents and the ability to identify bias and intent, the nature and value of pictorial records, and their use in heritage research.

Students will study the methodology and sources of material culture research in support of collection management and the development of exhibits, furnishing plans, and interpretive programming. Issues and considerations underlying the practical steps of oral history interviewing will also be introduced, as well as the use of maps and Historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS) as a documentary source and research tool for the study of historic landscapes.

This course offers an experiential understanding of planning and undertaking research for those working in any area of heritage resources management, from curators, archivists, interpreters, and programmers to restoration specialists and managers.


HERM 312 is divided into ten units and requires you to do a number of readings and assignments.

  • Unit 1: The Big Picture: Perspectives on Heritage Research and the Public
  • Unit 2: Planning Heritage Research & Finding and Accessing Documentary Sources
  • Unit 3: Documentary Sources: Evaluating and Interpreting Primary Text Records and Secondary Published Sources
  • Unit 4: Documentary Sources: Examining Pictorial Records
  • Unit 5: Oral History: Research Method and Documentary Source
  • Unit 6: Material Culture: Artifact-Based Research and Source of Evidence
  • Unit 7: Material Culture: Archaeological Resources and Heritage Research
  • Unit 8: Architectural Heritage Resources: Documenting, Researching, and Interpreting Buildings
  • Unit 9: The Resources of Place: Researching and Interpreting Landscapes
  • Unit 10: Putting It All Together: A Case Study in Heritage Research

Learning Outcomes

HERM 312: Heritage Research introduces students to some of the formative issues and practices in heritage research. After completing the course, students will able to:

  • Explain the importance of research in the multidisciplinary field of Heritage Resources Management.
  • Identify and use a wide range of documentary (both digital and non-digital) and non-documentary sources for various heritage research needs.
  • Describe the problems, advantages, and issues that arise when using various types of sources of evidence including documentary research, oral history, and material culture.
  • Plan and undertake basic historical research on a given topic, using a variety of source types, and present your findings in an appropriate format.


To receive credit in HERM 312, you must complete and submit all four assignments and achieve an overall grade of D (50 percent).

You will be evaluated on your understanding of the concepts presented in the course and on your ability to apply those concepts. Your final grade in the course will be based on the marks achieved for the following activities.

Assignment Weight
Assignment 1: Analyzing Visual Images 20%
Assignment 2: Learning to Listen 20%
Assignment 3: Researching Heritage Buildings 20%
Assignment 4: Research Plan 40%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

All course materials for HERM 312 are available online from the course home page. These materials include a Course Information and a Study Guide. All of the required readings for the course are available in the Digital Reading Room.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, August 17, 2020.

View previous revision