A New Jerusalem? Being Protestant in Post-Reformation England: Context (HIH3207)

StaffDr Laura Sangha - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesA New Jerusalem? Being Protestant in post-Reformation England: ContextA New Jerusalem? Being Protestant in post-Reformation England: Sources
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module is designed to draw on current lively scholarship exploring ‘lived religion’ in England. It will provide students with an insight into the cultural life of the nation, within the context of significant political and social developments in the late sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries. The central issue will be: Protestant beliefs about the divine and supernatural, and the way that these informed everyday behaviour. It will provide students with a deep knowledge the role of Protestantism in the nation, it will familiarise them with the enormous range of source material that we might use to explore religious belief and practice, and it will enrich their understanding of religious and social change and its impact in early modern England.
Aspects covered might include: ‘types’ of Protestantism (conformist, Puritan, Laudian etc), the Protestant worldview (supernatural beliefs, salvation, assurance), public worship (sermons, catechising, liturgy), private religious practices (household worship, Bible reading, prayer), individual devotion (reading, writing, prayer). We might also look at elements of people’s life experience that were common to all, such as belief and practice associated with sleep and death. Communal festive culture and leisure activities are another important area, allowing exploration of cultural conflict, the emergence of a Protestant ritual year, and the impact of the Reformation on the visual and performative arts. The last part of the module will consider some broader questions: secularisation, the relationship between religion and the ‘new science’, the way that histories of the Reformation were written at the time and since. 
Documents considered might include: printed material (liturgical texts, sermons, treatises, prayer manuals, ‘cheap print’ in all its forms); literary sources, particularly plays; diaries; personal correspondence; ecclesiastical and domestic material artefacts & inventories; visual material; churchwarden accounts; church and secular court records.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the different complex themes in the history of Protestant early modern England.
  • 2. Make close specialist evaluation of the key developments within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse the key developments within religious cultures in Protestant England, and their impact on the social and cultural life of contemporaries.
  • 4. Focus on and comprehend complex issues.
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 6. Follow the development of religious cultures and their relationship with key political trends across the period.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Independently and autonomously study and work within a group, including 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. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

The topic areas listed below will form the basis for seminars. 
• Context: Elizabethan England
• Context: Jacobean England
• What was a Protestant? (conformist, non-conformist, country divinity, Puritan, Laudian etc)
• The Invisible World: the Protestant Mentality (supernatural beliefs, providence, the devil, salvation, assurance)
• Context: Charles I and the Civil Wars
• How to be a Protestant: public worship (sermons, catechising, liturgy), private religious practices (household worship, Bible reading, prayer), individual devotion (reading, writing, prayer), sleep, death. 
• Context: The 1650s
• Context: Restoration England 
• Culture Wars? Protestant Lifestyles (communal festive culture & merry England; Puritan culture, the emergence of a ritual year, the visual and performative arts)
• Context: The Glorious Revolution
• The invisible world in decline? (secularisation, religion and the ‘new science’, Thoresby)
• A new Jerusalem? The Protestant Nation (the ritual year; histories of the Reformation; martyrs and myths)

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 activities44Seminars (22x2hr)
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course1-7, 9Verbal from tutor and fellow students.

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
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written
Unseen exam502 questions in 2 hours1-8Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Two essaysTwo essays1-8Referral/Deferral period
Unseen examUnseen Exam1-8Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

E. Cameron, Enchanted Europe: superstition, reason and religion, 1250-1750 (Oxford, 2010)
B. Capp, England's culture wars: puritan reformation and its enemies in the interregnum, 1649-1660 (Oxford, 2012)
D. Davis, Seeing faith, printing pictures: religious identity during the English Reformation (Leiden, 2013)
J. Gascoigne, Science, Philosophy and Religion in the Age of the Enlightenment: British and Global Contexts (Farnham, 2010)
T. Hamling, Decorating the 'Godly' Household: Religious Art in Post-Reformation Britain (London, 2010)
A. Hunt, The Art of Hearing: English Preachers and their Audiences, 1590–1640 (Cambridge, 2010)
R. Hutton, The Rise and Fall of Merry England (Oxford, 1994)
R. Lund, Ridicule, religion and the politics of wit in Augustan England (Farnham, 2012)
J. Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Cambridge, 1998)
C. Marsh, Music and Society in early modern England (Cambridge, 2010)
N. Mears and A. Ryrie (eds), Private and Domestic Devotion in Early Modern Britain (Farnham, 2013)
J. Shaw, Miracles in Enlightenment England (London, 2006)
A. Walsham, The reformation of the landscape: religion, identity, and memory in early modern Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2011)
T. Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety (Cambridge, 1991) 
P. Whitfield White, Theatre and Reformation (Cambridge, 1993)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

EEBO, EBBA, British Printed Images to 1700, English Prose Drama Database, LEME

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

RAMM collections, Exeter Cathedral Archives

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Protestantism, Reformation, religion, culture