Understanding the Medieval and Early-Modern World (HIH1410)

StaffProfessor Henry French - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Between the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century and the intellectual excitement of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth, Europe was transformed. Rome's demise brought about major changes in the political, social and economic framework of the region although her cultural legacy continued to dominate. The new power structures that emerged were to lay the foundations for later medieval and early modern Europe, and witnessed the forging of a new set of values  political, cultural and economic  which were to be exported across the globe. In this module we will introduce you to the major events and themes of medieval and early modern history. Among other things, we will explore the environment in which people lived, the cultural milieux in which they moved and the ways in which they thought about and organised their worlds. Although the focus will be primarily on Europe, we will also consider the region's links with the wider world and seek to foster an appreciation of the principal forces that helped to shape the medieval, early modern and thus modern world.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Identify the main themes in the history of medieval and early modern history of Europe and its relations with other cultures
  • 2. Interpret the specific themes studied in seminar and coursework within the overall framework of developments in medieval and early modern world

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Explain, both orally and in written form, large themes over a relatively long span of history
  • 4. Evaluate the views of different historians on a topic
  • 5. Formulate a historical argument, based on professional standards of evidence use

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions
  • 7. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with some guidance from the tutor
  • 8. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The Structures of Power (1): Peoples, Empires, Kingdoms and States, including the Fall of Rome, Empire and Kingship c.400-c.1000, Rulers and their Courts c.1000-c.1400, Rise of the Nation State c.1400-c.1600, The Seventeenth-century Crisis
  • The Structures of Power (2): Aristocratic Elites, including the 'Feudal Transformation' c.1000 Cultures of War, Chivalry, Loves, Sex and Marriage, Lordship and power in the early modern world
  • Ordering the World, including Social Orders and Classes, Rebellion and Dissent Law, Crime and Punishment, Time and Place, Identity and Belonging
  • The Environment (1): The Physical Environment, including the Limits of Nature, making a Living, Fertility and Mortality, Black Death
  • The Environment (2): Economic and Social Development, including Travel and Connections, Towns and Urban Life, the Rise of Capitalism Objects and Possessions, The Material World
  • Religion and the Church , including expansion of Christianity in the Early Middle Ages, Popes, Bishops and Monks, Belief and Unbelief, Reformation
  • Encountering the Other, including the rise of Islam Migrations, Vikings and Magyars, Crusades, Europe and Asia, Exploration and Expansion: New Worlds
  • Cultures and Knowledge, including renaissances; c.9th, c.12th, c.15th Artistic Expression and Exchange, The Quest for Knowledge, Orality, Literacy and Education, The Enlightenment

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 teaching44Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching24Seminars
Independent study232Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
2 essay plans 500 words each 1-8Oral and written feedback

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
Essay (Term 1)252000 words1-8Oral and written feedback
Essay (Term 2)252000 words1-8Oral and written feedback
Examination502 hour unseen1-8Oral and written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay2 essays (2000 words each)1-8Referral/deferral period.
Examination2 hour unseen examination1-8Referral/deferral period.

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

 Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350 (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1993)
  • H. Kamen, European Society 1500-1700 (1st publ. 1971) (London: Routledge, 1992)
  • B. Kmin, ed., The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History (London: Routledge, 2009)
  • J. LeGoff, Medieval Civilization (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988)
  • A. Pettegree, ed., The Reformation World (London: Routledge, 1992)
  • B. H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages 300-1500, 2nd edn (Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press, 2004)
  • C. Wickham, The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 (London: Allen Lane, 2009

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Medieval history, early-modern history