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Unit information: Calvinism and Europe (Level H Special Subject) in 2015/16

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Unit name Calvinism and Europe (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37002
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Austin
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Calvinism was the most dynamic form of Reformation Protestantism, taking root in, among other places, France, Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and Lithuania. This special subject investigates the reasons for Calvinism's rise to pre-eminence, the manner in which this was achieved, its subsequent impact, and its longer term historical significance. While theological issues will not be ignored, greater attention will be given to the impact those ideas had on politics, culture and society, and the ways in which such factors in turn shaped the reception of these ideas. The close interconnections between religious and political history in the early modern period (as exemplified in the French Wars of Religion and the Dutch Revolt), will be stressed throughout this unit; moreover, themes such as the role of ideology, the nature and use of propaganda, and state formation and development, will allow students to draw comparisons with other periods of history.

  • To place students in direct contact with the current research interests of the academic tutor
  • To enable students to explore the issues surrounding the state of research on the history of Calvinism in Europe
  • To develop further students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop further students' abilities to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis
  • To develop further students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • Developed an in depth understanding of a particular aspect of current historical research
  • Become more experienced and competent in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources
  • Become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment.

Teaching Information

  • 10 x weekly 2 hour seminar
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

1 x 3500 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

Philip Benedict, Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed. A Social History of Calvinism (2004)

Patrick Collinson, The Reformation (2003)

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (2011)

Graeme Murdock, Beyond Calvin: The Intellectual, Political and Cultural World of Europe’s Reformed Churches, c.1540-1620 (2004)

Andrew Pettegree, A. C. Duke and Gillian Lewis (Eds), Calvinism in Europe, 1540-1620 (1996) [not to be confused with the set of documents by the same editors]

Menna Prestwich (Ed.), International Calvinism, 1541-1715 (1985)