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Unit information: The Medieval World in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name The Medieval World
Unit code HIST10042
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Smith
Open unit status Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to the vibrant history and culture of the Middle Ages. The main focus will be on Europe (incl. the British Isles) in the period between 1000 and 1300, known as the ‘high’ or ‘central’ Middle Ages, supplemented by selected examples from other areas and earlier and/or later periods. The Middle Ages were an age of immense variety and complexity, marked by both continuity and dramatic changes. The vital significance of these changes for the long-term development of Europe and the wider world is not always appreciated, even though they continue to shape the landscape, built environment, socio-political institutions and cultural concepts of our society today.

Assuming no prior knowledge, this unit offers an overview of the key political, social, economic, religious and intellectual developments of the medieval period. Lectures, seminars and workshops explore, amongst other themes, the ordering of society, changing relationships between religion and state, and the Church and ordinary believers, key issues in the educational, governmental, commercial and religious ‘revolutions’ of the period, and ways in which medieval men and women understood themselves, their world and their place within it.

The unit aims to:

•offer an introductory grounding in medieval history;
•provide an awareness of the main issues at stake in undertaking historical analysis in the period;
•give an introduction to the use of medieval texts as source material;
•create an opportunity for students to discuss various issues in medieval history and to work on texts in a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. reflect critically upon of some of the key issues and debates in medieval history;
  2. demonstrate an awareness of how medieval historians approach the analysis of their period;
  3. analyse specific issues and sources within their longer-term historical context;
  4. select pertinent textual evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points
  5. demonstrate skills in oral presentation appropriate to level C

Teaching Information


2 x one-hour lecture

1 x one-hour workshop

1 x one-hour seminar

Assessment Information

1 x 10-minute presentation (50%) (ILOs 1-5)

1 x two-hour summative exam (50%) (ILOs 1-4)

Reading and References

  • Barber, Malcolm, The Two Cities: Medieval Europe, 1050-1320 (2nd edn., London, 2004)
  • Bartlett, Robert., The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonisation, and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (London, 1994)
  • McKitterick, Rosamond, The Early Middle Ages: Europe, 400-1000 (Oxford, 2001)
  • Power, Daniel, The Central Middle Ages: Europe, 950-1320 (Oxford, 2006)
  • Rosenthal, Joel, Understanding Medieval Primary Sources: Using Historical Sources to Discover Medieval Europe (Abingdon, 2012)
  • Wickham, Chris, Medieval Europe (London, 2016)