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Unit information: The Early Modern World: The British Isles in 2021/22

Unit name The Early Modern World: The British Isles
Unit code HIST10063
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
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 will introduce students to the dynamic history of the British Isles in the early modern period. This history was shaped by contact with the rest of Europe and the wider world, and the inhabitants of the British archipelago were themselves culturally, linguistically, and politically diverse. Yet the inherently bounded nature of these islands, geographically detached from the European continent, gives their history a distinct character. The main focus of the unit will be on the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, a period marked by dramatic social, political, religious, economic, environmental and technological change. The legacy of this period continues to shape the landscape, institutions, and society of the British Isles today.

Assuming no prior knowledge, this unit provides an overview of the key developments of the period. Lectures, workshops and seminars explore topics such as plague, the Reformation, witch-hunting, political rebellion, colonialism, and the advent of print, to examine the ways in which the people of the early modern British Isles understood themselves, their world, and their place within it.

This unit shares a common lecture series with the other 'Early Modern World' unit, but follows a distinct series of seminars.

The unit therefore aims to:

  • Offer an introductory grounding in the early modern history of the British Isles.
  • Provide an awareness of the main issues at stake in undertaking historical analysis in the period.
  • Give an introduction to the use of early modern primary sources.
  • Create an opportunity for students to discuss various issues in early modern history and to work on primary sources in a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and analyse key themes and issues in early modern history.
  2. Discuss and evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the period and a range of topics.
  3. Interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points.
  4. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level C.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

This unit shares a common lecture series with the other 'Early Modern World' unit, but follows a distinct series of seminars.

Assessment Information

Summative assessments:

1 x Timed Assessment (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. HIST10063).

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.