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Module planning: course & subject alignment for your modules

A Libguide dedicated to all things MU Staff, bringing together useful resources, tools and services available to MU Staff in one place.

Make your module-planning easier

We know that you probably send your proposed module titles and descriptions to the Academic Database (ADB) around mid-Feb. You then have to decide on the lesson plans and later on again, decide on the associated reading list. 

We offer a free service via some database publishers (who provide MU access to primary source material) whereby they will analyse your lesson plans in detail and then provide you with a report, providing you with class-specific and thematic links to relevent digital material, that will support the delivery of your classes.

This service is called "Course Alignment". This is suited to many FACSP and FSS modules. 

Using Course Alignment is an easy way to develop your reading lists and lesson plans with stable links to relevant, digital material for your students, and can be used in conjunction with your own required reading for your students. You can adopt as much or as little of their suggested digital material and approaches as you wish.

This service is provided by AM Explorer and Gale Primary Sources. Other primary sources and database also offer a range of aligned material that you can use for relevant material for your modules. Begin the process by checking to see if your subject is covered by our primary source collections here

What is Course Alignment & how does it relate to my module-plans?

Course Alignment (in its fullest sense) involves a database provider examining your module in order to provide you with a report that gives you links to relevant primary sources in the database arranged in a systematic way, either thematically, or week-by-week.

You can use this report to build or enrich your module by adding the stable-links to your reading lists, and your teaching, and in doing so, your students will benefit of the vast primary sources available to them from MU Library. Some providers produce a tailor-made document, guiding you through the relevant content and linking it to weeks and lectures in each module. They can take the objectives of the course and each week’s focus into account. Some offer a more limited, basic subject-alignment offering, but this can still be very useful to you.

Advice from faculty to faculty on adopting Primary Source content in the classroom

  • Use oral sources as an accessible way into primary sources. Prepare the students for the characteristics of the specific sources, and their limitations. Choose a simple source first.
  • One page of a document can be a way of branching out into a range of broader sources and will provide your students with a much larger picture of study, so don’t be afraid to “start small” with one page.
  • Let your students dive right into documents and sustain a critical point of view as they analyse it. It can be very fruitful to show students the bias that can exist and to critically appraise the material.
  • Use the librarian’s expertise in your organisation. Access their knowledge of documents and other sources. Look out for “new to” assistance tools and help pages and use them.

Thanks to advice provided by Professor Giampiero Brunelli, Università di Roma, Professor Jerzy Zdanowski, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, and Dr Ainhoa Campos Posada, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who were speakers at a 2022 Adam Matthew webinar on "Primary Source Literacy in Europe: Empowering students and researchers with the practical tools they need".

What do you need to provide to get 'Course Alignment' for your module?

1. You will need to choose which database might have content that would support your module, and then get in touch with Helen Farrell in MU Library.

2. You will need to provide Helen with the details of your module. Draft lesson plans and learning outcomes would be useful but not essential. 

3. Helen will pass these on to the relevant database provider to carry out Course Alignment. 

4. Allow 4-6 weeks for receipt of the your alignment report. 

5. Assess the suggested links and reading material and incorporate what is useful, directly into your module plans. 

Course Alignment: databases offering the service

The following databases offer some level of Course Alignment (CA) services for MU Faculty. Those listed below with a pink background do not offer CA, but have some subject-aligned services, or content available, that is worth exploring. 

Please click the links below to discover the subject-coverage for each database: 

  • Adam Matthew Primary Sources: - full course alignment (History, Social Sciences, English, Economics, Culture, Sociology)

  • Sage Business Cases: full course alignment (Business only)

  • Gale Primary Sources: - some course alignment (History, Social Sciences, History of Law, Newspaper sources)

  • ProQuest Primary Sources: - some course alignment (via report available from Helen Farrell (History, International Development, Literature & Language, Media Studies, Music, SciTech, Social Science). Please be aware that in 2022 some ProQuest primary sources will be delisted, so if you are planning to rely on this content for modules in 2022, check with us first, and we can confirm if it is one of the resources that will be available in perpetuity.  
  • Academic Video Online (AVON): - subject alignment service available (all Faculties/most subjects covered)

  • Sage Research Methods: - subject-aligned content (all Faculties/most subjects covered)

Course Alignment: learning outcomes and working examples

Adam Matthew, who are a major provider of primary sources for teaching and research, have an example of what you can expect to receive if you ask for course alignment for your module, here

Course Alignment: innovative use and external examples

Have YOU used the Course Alignment services? What was your impression of it? Please email Helen Farrell with your feedback.

[In progress]

Who to contact about Course Alignment?

Contact Helen Farrell, Academic Engagement Librarian:

Course Alignment: is my subject covered?

Course Alignment services for modules, reports, and subject-aligned content available from MU Library, 




Who to contact:

Adam Matthew Primary Sources: 

Full course alignment 

Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design
Art History and Visual Culture
Central Eurasian studies
Comparative literature
Criminal Justice
Disability Studies
East Asian studies
English and American Language and literature
European studies
Gender studies
Germanic studies
Global Studies
International Studies
Jewish studies
Latin American and Caribbean studies
Latino studies
Media studies
Music Studies
Middle Eastern and Islamic studies
Philosophy of Science
Political Science 
Religious studies
Russian Studies
South Asian studies
Statistical Resources
Theatre and Drama
Tibetan studies
Victorian studies


Helen Farrell

Gale Primary Sources:  

Partial course alignment

History, Social Sciences, History of Law, Newspaper sources

Contact Carolyn Beckford direct in Gale, and CC Helen Farrell in MU. 

Proquest Primary Sources: *

Curriculum analysis report available for MU*

Anthropology, English, History, International Development, Literature & Language, Media Studies, Music, SciTech, Social Science

Helen Farrell

Academic Video Online (AVON): 

Partial course alignment 

All Faculties/most subjects covered if it contains relevant video content. 

Contact AVON product advisor Sarah Brennan directly. 


Sage Business Cases: 

Full course-alignment service and additional teaching notes for faculty on a dedicated guide. 


Read the supporting material for faculty here

Request full course-mapping for your module by emailing

Sage Research Methods: 

Subject-aligned content available from the product at all times, including suggested reading lists for subjects. 

Most subjects covered

Browse reading lists and content by discipline:

* = Some ProQuest databases will not have perpetual access after December 2021, so if you are planning to use links to content for a module to be delivered in 2022 onwards, please contact Helen Farrell to check if access will continue.

Using digital primary sources in your online teaching

Course Alignment: what you can expect to receive

For products offering full course alignment services, you can receive module-specific suggestions for innovative content use in your classes, with direct links to the content, like this example

For partial course alignment services, the content you receive can be a report with suggested links to collections within the product for an overall departmental subject.

For subject alignment, you can expect to see subject-relevant content within a product and support information about using this material in the classroom, and/or linking to this content. 

Course Alignment: timescale - what to expect

Please allow 4-6 weeks ahead of the date of commencement of your module. Depending on the service provider, Course Alignment can be a very intensive task, and it can depend on time of year/workload of the publisher that is offering the service. 

My module is already set up: can I still use this service?

Absolutely; Course Alignment can still be of use to established modules. The report that you receive back from the publisher may give you ideas for new approaches to your classes, or could be of use in research projects for the class. You may also realise that there is specific primary source material that relates to your module. 

Five reasons why primary sources should be used for teaching

Five reasons why primary sources should be used for teaching via @timeshighered