Lords to Lepers: Medieval Social Worlds (ARC2118)

StaffProfessor Oliver Creighton - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to develop an appreciation of standards of living and ways of dying in Britain between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries and to deepen understanding of the principles and methodologies involved in recovering, analysing and theorising related information. It aims to develop a critically aware understanding of commonalities and contrasts in medieval life and lifestyle between different social classes and in different environments and regions.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. understand the range of techniques and data sources available to study medieval life and lifestyle during this period
  • 2. know the principal medieval building types and their chronological developments and regional variations
  • 3. develop an understanding of how and why these developments and variations came about
  • 4. demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical challenges and issues involved in understanding and reconstructing medieval lifestyle

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate knowledge of, and an ability to reflect on, contrasting archaeological perspectives
  • 6. synthesise and evaluate relevant archaeological and historical terms, concepts and examples
  • 7. Demonstrate comprehension and detailed knowledge of complex issues through essay-based coursework and the end of module exam

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. demonstrate techniques of locating, organising and digesting material to produce, to a deadline, a piece of coherent analysis
  • 9. respond to arguments in discussion and ask relevant questions

Syllabus plan

  • Medieval social worlds: sources and perspectives; social structure and its development.

  • The idea of habitus: spatial organisation and households; the open hall.

  • Diet and dress in the middle ages.

  • Elite residences as social arenas: palaces, mansions and manors.

  • Town life: merchants, traders and guilds.

  • Lives on the fringes: hospitals; lepers; the urban poor; Jews.

  • The peasantry: houses and hovels; archaeologies of resistance?

  • The medieval way of death: burial, cemeteries and commemoration.

  • Workshop 1: interrogating medieval buildings: survey, recording and analysis.

  • Workshop 2: coming to grips with medieval portable artefacts – personal adornments, weapons, coins, etc.

Overview: contrasts and commonalities in life and lifestyle.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities16Lectures (8 x 2 hrs)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2Workshops
Scheduled learning and teaching activities1Tutorial
Scheduled learning and teaching activities131Independent study (week by week reading of books and articles; guided preparation for workshops; individual preparation for essays)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Workshop participation x 21 hour9verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation4010 minutes1-9written
Exam601.5 hours1-9written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PresentationEssay 1500 words1-9Refer/Defer period
ExamExam1-9Refer/Defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Daniel, C. 1997. Death and Burial in Medieval Britain, 1066-1550. London: Routledge.

 Dyer, C. and Giles, K. 2005. Town and Country in the Middle Ages: Contrasts, Contacts and Interconnections, 1100-1500. Leeds: Maney

 Emery, A. 2007. Discovering Medieval Houses. Princes Risborough: Shire.

 Grenville, J. 1997. Medieval Housing. Leicester: Leicester University Press.

 Hinton, D.A. 2005. Gold and Gilt, Pots and Pins: Possessions and People in Medieval Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Website of the Portable Antiquities Scheme: http://finds.org.uk/

Website of the Society for Medieval Archaeology: http://www.medievalarchaeology.org/

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


The city of Exeter and its medieval buildings.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

February 2012

Last revision date


Key words search

medieval, middle ages, archaeology