The Theory and Context of Recordkeeping module (RM50031)

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Module code


This module will explore:

  • the importance of records and archives and their impact in society
  • the nature of the record in the context of the wider data and information landscape
  • the development of recordkeeping functions and theories
  • regulations, standards, professionalism and ethics
  • concepts of records and archives within and beyond the discipline

You will notice that this module is about ‘recordkeeping’ rather than archives or records management. As will become apparent this is because so many of the underlying concepts are relevant to recordkeeping in general rather than to either just archives or just records management. Even though these are separated in employment terms (jobs are usually for either a records manager or an archivist) there is far more that connects than separates them.

The purpose of this module is to set the professional context for the work that you are undertaking or planning to undertake. So whether you are working with records or archives, or within a wider data and/or information environment it is important that you understand what ‘recordkeeping’ means and what concepts, functions, theories and practices come within its scope. As well as discussing the overarching importance of records and archives to society in general we shall consider the relevant regulatory, ethical and standards frameworks within which recordkeeping operates.

We shall also explore how other communities and disciplines use and view records and archives. Other CAIS modules focus on specific aspects in more detail: here we are taking a broad and introductory view of the recordkeeping landscape. But before going further I think we should start by considering why records and archives matter. Why would individuals, organisations and society be unable to function without them?

Number of credits

20 SCQF credits (10 ECTS credits) on Level 5, SHE M (SCQF 11)


Craig Gauld, Alex Du ToitLucy Brownson