Deviants and Dissenters in Early Modern England (HIH2186A)

StaffDr Sarah Toulalan - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

You will need effective communication and analytical skills, oral and written, to complete many of your modules and in a job after you graduate. This module aims to help you develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material, and in reporting on your work. It provides you with an opportunity to explore an area of history in more depth, and helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history. It will also give you an opportunity to work in a team on a group presentation.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Be aware of the various developments in the histories of deviance and dissent, outsiders and outcasts, and marginalisation.
  • 2. Make a close evaluation of the key developments and debates in this area of historical enquiry.
  • 3. Evaluate the main themes in the subject and to collate information upon, and evaluate in greater detail, those aspects of the module discussed in seminar and especially those topics selected by students for their coursework.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Analyse the key developments in this subject area.
  • 5. Collate data from a range of sources, both primary and secondary.
  • 6. Interpret primary sources.
  • 7. Trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments.
  • 8. Recognise and deploy historical terminology correctly.
  • 9. Assess different approaches to historical writing in areas of controversy.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions.
  • 11. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with little guidance
  • 12. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument

Syllabus plan

The module will cover the following broad subject areas/groups:


  1. Religious dissenters: Protestant sects, Catholics, Jews, and atheists.

  2. Political dissenters: radicals and rebels, plots and protests.

  3. Social deviance: the poor, the masterless, travellers, criminals, witches.

  4. Sexual deviance: same-sex desire, non-human and coerced sexual encounters, prostitution, and illicit sex.

  5. Bodily differences: disability and disfigurement, disease, race and ethnicity, gender and age.

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 hoursLectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hoursSeminars; these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and present on a given topic in groups of 4 on 4 occasions
Guided independent study 22 hoursWeb-based activities located on ELE – preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided independent study 234 hoursReading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan x 1500 words1-12Verbal and written

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 303 000 words1-12Verbal and written
Group presentation 2025 minutes1-11Verbal and written
Exam502 questions in 2 hours1-12Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay3 000 words1-12Referral/deferral period
Group Presentation1500 word script as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes1-11Referral/deferral period
Exam2 questions in 2 hours1-12Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 3,000 word essay and 2-hour exam, as in the original assessment, but replaces participation in the group presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 10 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001)

Anthony Fletcher and J. Stevenson (eds), Order and Disorder in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1985)

John C. Fout (ed.), Forbidden History: The State, Society, and the Regulation of Sexuality in Modern Europe, (Chicago and London, 1992)

Erica Fudge, ‘Monstrous Acts: Bestiality in Early Modern England’, in History Today, (2000), 50:8, 20-25

Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Moral panics: the social construction of deviance (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)

Robert Jütte, Poverty and deviance in early modern Europe (Cambridge: CUP, 1994)

K.J. Kesselring, The Northern Rebellion of 1569: Faith, politics and protest in Elizabethan England (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Jon Oplinger, The Politics of Demonology: the European witchcraze and the mass production of deviance (Selinsgrove; London: Susquehanna University Press; Associated University Presses, 1990)

Julie Peakman (ed.),Sexual Perversions, 1670-1890 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Paul Slack (ed.), Rebellion, Popular Protest and the Social Order in early modern England (Cambridge: CUP, 1984)

Jonathan Schorsch Jews and Blacks in the Early Modern World (Cambridge: CUP, 2004)

Margaret Spufford (ed.), The World of Rural Dissenters, 1520-1725 (Cambridge: CUP, 1995)

Nicholas Tyacke (ed.), England’s Long Reformation 1500-1800 (London, 1998)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Early English Books Online (EEBO) – University of Exeter Electronic Resources

Old Bailey Proceedings Online -

English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) -

Broadside Ballads Online -

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Provided by module convenor as required.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Deviance, deviants, dissent, dissenters, outsiders, margins, marginalisation, marginalised, disability, disfigurement, perversion, illegitimate.