Insiders and Outsiders in the Middle Ages (HISM149)

StaffProfessor Morwenna Ludlow - Lecturer
Alex Mallett - Lecturer
Dr Levi Roach - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will investigate the relationships between those who regarded themselves as insiders within medieval communities and those whom the insiders defined as outsiders. It will thus consider the extent to which medieval western Europe, far from being a homogenous world, was one made up of many different multicultural communities. It will study the history of how communities defined themselves in the medieval world by exploring the themes of belonging to and exclusion from a community across a range of different case studies. This team-taught module will take a comparative approach, allowing students to investigate and compare the relationship between insiders and outsiders across a range of different communities, places and periods within medieval Europe. Groups covered will range from those who placed themselves outside medieval society voluntarily (e.g. pilgrims, hermits, merchants, mercenaries) to those who did so involuntarily (e.g. excommunicants, outlaws, captives, non-Christians), to those who may have chosen to set themselves apart from the prevailing norms (e.g. heretics).

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Locate and evaluate critically the relevant primary and secondary source materials required to investigate a specific historical or methodological question.
  • 2. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of key themes and approaches in the study of definitions of community in the medieval world.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 4. Identify and understand the nature of original sources.
  • 5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates.
  • 6. Research for themselves and present independent accounts and interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop the capacity for independent critical study and thought.
  • 8. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of on-line finding aids).
  • 9. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 10. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).

Syllabus plan

The module will be team-taught by two or three tutors and the Themes covered will depend on the tutors’ research interests.

Introduction: (whole module team) (WEEK 1)

Workshop: Insiders and Outsiders in the Medieval World: Approaches and Methodologies (WEEK 2) (Module co-ordinator)


Theme I (WEEKS 3-5) (one member of module team)

Theme II (WEEKS 6-8) (one member of module team)

Theme II (WEEKS 9-10) (one member of module team)


Theme I (Weeks 3-6) (one member of module team)

Theme II (Weeks 7-10) (one member of module team)

Conference workshop (end of module presentations to the whole module team) (Week 11)

Staff availability will determine whether Pathway A or Pathway B is followed, and which of the four thematic blocks is available in any given year.

Thematic blocks: students to take 2 or 3 blocks from those listed below:

I. Insiders and Outsiders in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

II. Insiders and Outsiders in the British Isles 900-1200

III. Insiders and Outsiders in Northern Europe 900-1200

IV. Insiders and Outsiders in the Mediterranean World 900-1300

V. Insiders and Outsiders and the Church 1200-1500

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 Activities2211 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study278Preparation for seminars, essays and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing1-10Oral through discussion with peers and tutor.

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 383000 words1-9Oral and written
Essay 373000 words1-9Oral and written
Individual Presentation (with visual aids)2525-30 minutes1-10Oral and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9Referral/deferral period
PresentationScript as for 25-30 minute presentation1-10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bartlett, Robert. The Making of Europe. Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (Harmondsworth: Allen Lane/Penguin Group, 1993).
Goodich, Michael (ed.), The Other Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998).
Moore, R. I. The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250 (Oxford: Blackwells, 1987).
Reynolds, Susan. Kingdoms and communities in western Europe 900-1300, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)
Stafford, Pauline, Janet L. Nelson, and Jane Martindale, eds, Law, laity and solidarities: Essays in Honour of Susan Reynolds (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

International medieval bibliography on-line via University of Exeter Library website
Internet medieval sourcebook:

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Medieval, Middle Ages, Communities, Exclusion, Outsiders, Religion, Multicultural, Heresy, Society.