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Medieval Lives - HIS00019C

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Rachel Delman
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module will introduce students to the study of later medieval history through a focus on five individuals and their wider historical context. These include a noblewoman, a heroine, a mystic, and merchant and his wife. Some are famous, others not. Some are very well documented, for others we have only fictionalised accounts of their lives. All were, to some extent, international figures, but primarily their lives give us access to the history of England, France and the Low Countries in the period 1350 - 1550.

This module will explore major events and themes in the history of north-western Europe, including the Wars of the Roses, urban life, devotion and pilgrimage, and life in the late medieval home. Students will engage with a wide range of primary evidence, from wills, sermons and literary evidence to objects and architecture. As part of this course, we will spend time considering the buildings and museum collections of York, using these to think about the ways in which medieval lives can be accessed and interpreted through both written and material evidence. We will also assess the value of biographical approaches to the study of medieval history, considering how and why historians have written biographies, and whether they still have a place in historical discourse today.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

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 an unfamiliar period and/or approach to 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 further developed work undertaken in the Autumn Term lecture courses and skills portfolios, including historical analysis, note-taking, using primary sources, presenting to groups, and leading discussions in seminars;
  • Be able to construct a coherent historical argument in oral and written forms

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Teaching will be in weekly 2-hour seminars taught over nine weeks, plus an overview and revision session in Week 2 of Summer Term. 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:

Spring Term

Week 1: Margaret Beaufort: Tudor Matriarch
Week 2: The Wars of the Roses and the Birth of the Tudor Dynasty
Week 3: Life at Home I: The Great Household
Week 4: Life at Home II: Urban Houses
Week 5: Margaret and Nicholas Blackburn and the history of the ‘everyday’ in Late Medieval York
Week 6: Pilgrimage and Popular Piety
Week 7: Margery Kempe and her Book
Week 8: Monastic Life
Week 9: Joan of Arc: Heroine or Abused Child?


Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
24-Hour Open Exam
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work:

During the Spring Term students will prepare a presentation in pairs or small groups. Tutors will determine the formative work for the course: all groups will present either on a primary source or on an assigned historiographical question. Formative work will be completed in one or more sessions at the tutor’s discretion.

Summative assessment:

An open exam in the Common Assessment Period, comprising one essay question chosen from five options.


Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
24-Hour Open Exam
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:

M. Rubin, The Middle Ages: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

W. C. Hollister and J. M Bennett, Medieval Europe: A Short History (London: McGraw-Hill, 2002)

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.