Marriage and the Family in England 1500-1800 (HIH1521)

Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module focuses on the theory and practice of marriage in early modern England. Through documentary sources and secondary reading, it will explore this fundamental building block of society in the past. It will introduce notions of patriarchy that governed relations between men and women, and analyse how far these ideas translated into practice, before, during and after marriage. It will also examine family life, which governed the lives of most of the unmarried in society. The module will introduce students to relevant sources, source criticism, and debates in the social history of the subject.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Assess the nature of gender relations, marriage theory, and historical information about marriage and family life
  • 2. Work critically with a range of sources for the patriarchal theory and marriage practice for the period 1500-1800
  • 3. Critique early modern historical texts, and modern interpretations

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. bias, reliability, etc., and to compare the validity of different types of source
  • 5. Answer a question briefly and concisely
  • 6. Present work orally, to respond to questions orally, and to think quickly of questions to ask other students

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. 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 interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group
  • 10. Write to a very tight word-length

Syllabus plan

The module will deal with sources explaining the theory and practice of family life. It will include seminars discussing documents dealing with how and why people married; gender roles within the household; marital breakdowns; the composition of the household.These sources will be examined in relation to recent historical interpretations of the subject.

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
Lecture2Introduction to the module
Workshop20At 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 minutes1-4, 6-9Oral

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 essays77400-500 words1-5, 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 400-500 word essaysPortfolio of seven 400-500 word essays1-5, 7-8, 10Referred/deferred period
1 x 1000-word essay1 x 1000-word essay1-5, 7-8, 10Referred/deferred period

Re-assessment notes

You will be required to submit the same written work as for the summative assessment; if you are referred your mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Fletcher, Anthony, Gender, Sex, and Subordination in England 1500-1800 (London, 1995)
Houlbrooke, Ralph, The English Family 1450-1700 (London, 1984)
Macfarlane, Alan, Marriage and Love in England 1300-1840 (Oxford, 1986)
Stone, Lawrence, Road to Divorce, England 1530-1987 (Oxford, 1995)
Stone, Lawrence, Broken Lives: Separation and Divorce in England 1660-1857 (Oxford, 1993)
Stone, Lawrence, Uncertain Unions: Marriage in England 1660-1753 (Oxford, 1992)
Stone, Lawrence, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 (London, 1977)
Sharpe, James, Early Modern England: A Social History 1550-1760 (London, 1997), chp. 2
Wrightson, Keith, English Society 1580-1680 (London, 1982), chps 3 & 4

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