The Dissolution of the Monasteries (HIH1408)

StaffProfessor James Clark - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of the module is to introduce students to a variety of evidence – documentary, literary, visual and archaeological – from which a fresh understanding of the Dissolution might be developed. Students will be able to view much of the evidence in its original form, supported where appropriate with transcriptions and translations. As such they will be able to generate their own, independent responses to the record of the causes, course and consequences of these events. They will learn to compare and contrast the strengths and limitations of textual and material sources. They will also develop an understanding of the ways historians deploy different forms of evidence to support their interpretations and to stimulate critical debate. In this way, the module will prepare students for independent research and writing in this and other periods and topics.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Assess the historical importance of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
  • 2. Work critically with a range of sources for the history of the Dissolution in particular and the Henrician Reformation in general.
  • 3. Assess the sources in relation to the historical debates surrounding the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. utility, limitations, etc, and compare the validity of different types of sources.
  • 5. Answer a question briefly and concisely.
  • 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

Over 12 weeks of classes, the module will examine the critical debate surrounding the Dissolution of the Monasteries; the place, purpose and profile of monasteries in early Tudor England; the origins of the impulse for their suppression; the legislation, government bodies and officers that brought about the Dissolution; the experience of Dissolution from the point of view of a) religious b) their employees, tenants and dependents c) provincial society d) crown, government and political nation; the immediate and longer-term effects of Dissolution.

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 a weekly source 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 minutes1-9Oral

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
Portfolio of seven essays77 (11% per essay)400-500 words per essay1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments
Essay231000 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
Portfolio of seven essaysPortfolio of seven essays1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period
1000-word essay1000-word essay1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bernard, G. W. The King’s Reformation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

Clark, J. G. The Religious Orders in Pre-Reformation England (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2002).

Clark, J. G. ‘Reformation and Reaction at St Albans Abbey’, English Historical Review, 115 (2000), 297-328.

Youings, J. The Dissolution of the Monasteries (London: Allen and Unwin, 1971).

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Reformation, Dissolution, Monasteries, Religion, Tudors, Henry VIII, Medieval, Early Modern, Monasticism