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Unit information: English Civil Wars, 1625-1662 in 2021/22

Unit name English Civil Wars, 1625-1662
Unit code HISTM0088
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Reeks
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores the causes, course and consequences of the most calamitous wars in English history. What started as an attempt to restrain the royal prerogative morphed into a full-throttled assault on the old order. Removing monarchy proved easy compared to attempts to establish a republic, which floundered against the radicalisation of former supporters, the apathy of a divided country, and the weight of its own contradictions.

Historians are blessed with both a high-quality source base and a topic that captures the public imagination, but many of the key questions remain unresolved. Why did England slide into war in 1642? Why did Parliament win and why did the winners divide among themselves? Why was Charles I executed? Why did the English experiment with republicanism fail?

This unit will place particular focus on the English experience but will locate that experience in British and European contexts. Seminars will take their cue from past and present historiographical debates and key sources like Parliamentary Acts and Ordinances, printed newsbooks, diaries and journals, and various local records such as those of parish churches and incorporated town governments.

The unit aims to:

  1. Provide students with a knowledge of past and ongoing historical debates and the means to interrogate them.
  2. Explore the areas where work remains to be done and encourage students to research them.
  3. Provide students with a knowledge of the plentiful available sources and the means to engage with them.
  4. To prepare students for undertaking independent advanced-level research.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Identify and analyse recent historiographical developments and longer-term trends in English Civil War studies.
  2. Analyse, synthesise and evaluate a range of primary sources using appropriate methodologies.
  3. Design and frame a research question within relevant historiographies, theories and methodologies.
  4. Compose an extended historical argument rooted in primary source analysis.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including group seminar-style discussion and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

One 5000-word essay (100%). [ILOs 1-4].


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HISTM0088).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.