Society, Landscape and Environment 1500-1800 (HIC3305)

StaffDr Nicola Whyte - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

In a series of weekly lectures and seminars, students will consider ideas of landscape both today and in the past; regional landscapes, economic specialization and agrarian change; the meanings of enclosure and improvement; patriarchal landscapes and household space; political landscapes, country estates and colonial landscapes; contested landscapes; urban environments and ideas of social improvement. Throughout the module, students will evaluate the methods and approaches of scholars working on landscape and will consider a range of primary source material including early maps, literary texts, travel writing, court records and deposition evidence, together with the evidence of the physical landscape.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Define key concepts of landscape, improvement and the nature of agrarian and environmental change within appropriate theoretical frameworks
  • 2. evaluate the different and complex sources available to the study of landscape, society and agriculture in England in the period 1500-1800
  • 3. Assess the economic, cultural and political significance of discourses of improvement and landscape change

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Formulate appropriate questions relating to a body of source material and utilize that material to answer key questions on the ideology of improvement and nature and meaning of historic landscapes
  • 5. With minimum guidance, develop and sustain historical arguments in a variety of literary forms, using appropriate terminology
  • 6. Display a command of comparative perspectives
  • 7. Analyse at a close and sophisticated level original sources and assess their reliability as historical evidence
  • 8. Evaluate critically the reasoning of discourses current in the period under study

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Combine independent, autonomous study with the ability to work collaboratively
  • 10. Set tasks independently and solve problems, formulating appropriate questions and marshalling relevant evidence to answer them
  • 11. With minimum guidance, digest, select and synthesise evidence and arguments to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument

Syllabus plan

The lectures will provide a spine of ideas and information. These will form a basis upon which students can build their own interpretations and explore concepts and issues further in the seminars. The seminar work will comprise (1) discussions of particular topics and sources relating to the subject matter of the module and (2) group presentations on particular topics, developing students’ teamwork and oral skills. The module also includes a fieldtrip.

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 activities11lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22seminars

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short presentations5-10 minutesILOs 1-3,10-11

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
Essay503,000 words1-3, 5-6, 8, 10-11 Written comments and verbal feedback on formal submission
Themed project part 1: individual written assignment 352,000 words 4, 7, 9-11 Written comments and verbal feedback on formal submission
Themed project part 2: conference panel group presentation and discussion1520 minutes7-9 and 11Immediate verbal feedback from peers and tutor. Written feedback on submission.

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 3,000wEssay 3,000w1-3, 5-6, 8, 10-11Referral/deferral period
Themed project part 1 and part 2 Themed project : individual written assignment 3,000w4, 7-11 Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

J. Finch and K. Giles (eds.) Estate Landscapes: Design, Improvement and Power in the Post-Medieval Landscape (Woodbridge 2007)

Richard Hoyle (ed.) Custom, Improvement and the Landscape in Early Modern Britain (Farnham, 2011)

Matthew Johnson, An Archaeology of Capitalism (Oxford, 1996)

Sarah Tarlow, The Archaeology of Improvement 1750-1850 (Cambridge, 2007)

T. Williamson The Transformation of Rural England (Exeter, 2002)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date

March 2012