The Norman Conquest of England: Origins and Aftermath (HIH1029)

StaffDr Jennifer Farrell - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims


This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the political, social and cultural developments which resulted from the Norman Conquest of England. It also aims to introduce you to the way historians have approached these events and to consider the ways in which the primary source material has shaped our understanding of them. It will do this through a three-fold examination of the conquest and its aftermath. The first part of the module will examine the origins and justifications of the Norman claim to the English throne. The second will examine the processes by which the new Anglo-Norman monarchy sought to legitimize and sustain its victory at Hastings. The third will examine the impact their arrival had on English politics, culture and society in the next century. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Exeter Cathedral Archives and to handle the Exon Domesday and other original primary sources related to our topic.


ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Assess the nature and extent of political, social and cultural development in England between the late eleventh and late twelfth centuries.
  • 2. Analyse the arguments, both political and religious, that were used by the Normans to justify the Conquest and their subsequent role as kings.
  • 3. Develop a critical appreciation of modern historical studies of this period in English history.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. utility, limitations, challenges etc. and compare the validity of different types of sources, written and material.
  • 5. Answer a question concisely, with adequate supporting evidence and clarity of argument.
  • 6. Present work orally, respond to questions orally, and think quickly of questions to ask other students.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group.
  • 10. Write to a very tight word-length.

Syllabus plan

The seminars will cover the following subjects:

Part 1: Introduction; English and Norman Identity before the Conquest; Rival Claims to the Throne; 1066 and the Battle of Hastings

Part 2: Domesday and Land Holding in England; Norman Castles; Visit to the Exeter Cathedral Archives

Part 3: Kingship and Succession; the Law; the Church; Learning and Literature.

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 activities22 hour lecture: Introduction to module
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2010 x 2 hour seminars. At a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week
Guided independent study128Students prepare for the session through reading and research; writing five source commentaries and an essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation (3-4 students)10-15 minutes1-4, 6-7, 9Oral
Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments

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
4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries602000 words (500 per commentary)1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments
Essay on Sources401500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
4 highest marks of portfolio of 5 source commentaries4 highest marks of portfolio of 5 source commentaries1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period.
1500-word essay1500-word essay1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Robert Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings, 1075-1225 (Oxford, 2000).


Marjorie Chibnall, The Debate on the Norman Conquest (Manchester, 1999).


Susan Johns, Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm (Manchester, 2003).


John Gillingham, The English in the Twelfth Century: Imperialism, National Identity and Political Values (Woodbridge, 2008).


Nancy Partner, Serious Entertainments: The Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England (Chicago, 1977).


Peter Damian-Grint, The New Historians of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (Rochester, 1999).


Elizabeth Psalter, English and International: Studies in the literature, art and patronage of medieval England (Cambridge, 1988).


Eric Fernie, The Architecture of Norman England (Oxford, 2000).


Oliver Creighton, Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England (London, 2005).


T. F. X. Noble and J. Van Engen (eds.), European Transformations: The Long Twelfth Century (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2012).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Internet Medieval Sourcebook:

The Domesday Book Online:

Britain, 1066-1485:

Norman Art and Architecture:

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Medieval England, Norman Conquest, Anglo-Normans, twelfth-century renaissance.