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Unit information: Constructing the Other in 2021/22

Unit name Constructing the Other
Unit code HIST30107
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Wei
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Did Christian society become increasing intolerant, attacking Jews, Muslims and heretics more and more violently? Or did Christians simply imagine others in ways that helped them to define their own identities? Were non-human others, such as animals, angels and devils, imagined differently from human others? These questions have underpinned the work of historians in different fields of medieval Western European history. We will bring together these various fields to pose fundamental questions about the nature of medieval society and to test various explanatory models.

Were some groups defined and persecuted in order to enhance the power of rulers and their bureaucrats? Was there a distinctive medieval concern about purity and taboo? Were some images of the other constructed in attempts to understand the unknown? Are historians misled by a rhetoric of abuse which they over-interpret? Was otherness merely a construction of learned clerics which most people ignored?

Topics will include: heretics, Jews, Muslims, angels, devils, ghosts, concepts of race, class conflict, gender difference, sexual deviance, animals, monsters, travel, lepers.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of medieval western Europe through the analysis of the Other
  2. Reflect critically and sensitively upon a variety of theoretical and ideological perspectives related to an understanding of medieval society
  3. Assess and 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 H/6 

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of 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.

Assessment Information

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-4]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [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. HIST30107).

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.