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Violence, Miracle & Renaissance in Medieval France - HIS00008C

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sethina Watson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To give an intensive introduction to an unfamiliar period and/or approach to the study of history;
  • To offer experience in the use of primary source materials;
  • To develop skills in analysing historiography; and
  • To develop core skills such as: bibliographical search techniques; source analysis; essay writing; giving presentations; and, undertaking independent research.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Acquire an insight into historical study of an unfamiliar period and/or approach to the study of history through intensive study of an aspect of the period and/or an approach to it;
  • Gain experience of analysing primary source materials;
  • Be able to evaluate an historical explanation;
  • Have practiced core skills identified in the Autumn Term Making Histories module, including historical analysis, note-taking, essay writing, presenting to groups, and leading discussions in seminars: and,
  • Have delivered advanced level historical work in essays, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the module topics.

Module content

A period of celebrated transformation, the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries were an exciting time to live. A newly-powerful papacy was drawing Europe together as 'Christendom' and launching the First Crusade, a call to saw thousands march to the Holy Land to seize Jerusalem. Towns were growing in size, wealth and power, and there was a renewed zeal for religion with its hermits, saints, and monks. Warfare and its wagers continued to cause upheaval, but they were coming under increasing criticism and being asked to fight for God and for good rather than for their own profit.

The French monarchy was emerging from obscurity, and bands of scholars, seeking new forms of learning, were congregating and laying the foundations for universities. All this was witnessed by one man, Guibert of Nogent, whose gossipy autobiography will be the main source for this module. Guibert lets us into a world where a new order was rising on his doorstep, within a landscape filled with violence and miracles. Here, we see one man’s response to this world, through his own struggles with learning, faith, sex, his tutor and, most of all, his indomitable mother.

Teaching Programme:
Teaching will be in weekly 2-hour seminars taught over eight weeks. Each week students will do reading and preparation in order to be able to contribute to discussion.

The provisional outline for the module is as follows:

  1. Guibert and his times
  2. Nobility, Violence and the Rise of France
  3. Religious Life: Hermits, Monks and Mothers
  4. Scholars and the New Learning
  5. Women, Sex and Family
  6. Why are the towns revolting?
  7. The Miraculous, the Fabulous & the First Crusade
  8. Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual?


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

During the autumn term students will be tasked with finding and researching their own primary source or sources in pairs or small groups, on which they will give a group presentation for formative assessment in one or more sessions during weeks 4-7.

Students will then submit 2,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 10.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

The formative assessment is a group presentation and verbal feedback will be provided by the tutor in class followed by a written summary to each student within 10 working days. Students will have a 15 minute one-to-one tutorial to discuss the formative assessment and prepare for the summative assessment. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement on Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Should you wish to do any preliminary reading, you could look at the following:

Guibert of Nogent. Monodies and On the Relics of Saints: The Autobiography and a Manifesto of a French Monk from the time of the Crusades, trans. Jay Rubenstein & Joseph McAlhany. New York: Penguin Books, 2011.

Dunbabin, Jean. France in the Making, 843-1180. 2nd edition. Oxford: OUP, 2000.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students