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Unit information: Introduction to Early Modern History in 2017/18

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Unit name Introduction to Early Modern History
Unit code HIST13012
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jones
Open unit status Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This outline is designed to introduce students to some key movements and concepts in early modern European history. This was a period of fundamental change, when the shape and structure of the major European states and the lives of their peoples were radically transformed. In the fifteenth century the majority of western Europeans were Catholic Christians who were ruled by a personal monarchy and inhabited rural areas increasingly destabilised by demographic crises. By the end of the sixteenth century, populations had rebounded, the western Church had split, government had become more centralised and Europe had developed trading networks that encompassed the globe. These changes, which were accompanied by the great cultural developments brought about by the Renaissance and the printing press, make this one of the most enduringly fascinating periods in Europe’s history.


  • an introductory grounding in early modern history
  • an awareness of the main issue at stake in undertaking historical analysis in the period
  • an opportunity for students to discuss various issues in early modern history and to work on texts in a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • an understanding of some of the main issues in early modern history
  • an awareness of how early modern historians approach the analysis of their period
  • ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context
  • ability to select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points.

Teaching Information

2 x 1hr lectures weekly over 10 weeks plus 1 x 1hr seminar weekly over 10 weeks.

Assessment Information

1 x 2000 word essay (formative), 1 x 2 hour exam (100%).

Reading and References

Richard Bonney, The European Dynastic States, 1494-1660 (Oxford, 1991)

Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2006)

Euan Cameron, The Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2006)

Patrick Collinson, The Reformation (London, 2005)

John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford, 1988)

Beat Kümin (ed.), The European World: An Introduction to Early Modern History (London, 2009).

Robin W. Winks & Lee Palmer Wandel, Europe in a Wider World, 1350-1650 (Oxford, 2003)