Accessibility statement

Approaches to Early Modern History - HIS00029M

« Back to module search

  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sophie Weeks
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This core module introduces students to key problems, debates and sources in early modern history. It ranges across geographical boundaries to explore classic and emerging themes in political, social and cultural history between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Topics addressed include religion, crime and the law, material culture, representations of royal power and the relationship between magic and science. Students are encouraged to explore the full range of primary sources available to early modern historians, including art and material culture as well as manuscripts and print, and to think about how this era has been periodized by scholars of differing traditions

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • examine key themes in the historiography of the early modern period
  • consider Britain as part of Europe and the impact on European identity of exposure to those differing cultures found on Europe’s frontiers and overseas
  • develop skills of source analysis and interpretation
  • assess a range of primary source material
  • develop students’ powers of historical argument

Module learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course students should:

  • Be familiar with recent and classic debates in early modern history;
  • Have broad knowledge of the range of documentary and other sources available to early modern historians, and how they have been interpreted;
  • Be aware of how and why the history of this era has been periodized;
  • Have sharpened their skills of critical analysis and presentation;
  • Have begun the process of identifying a dissertation research topic.

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.

Seminars may include:

Week 1 Briefing session

Week 2 Writing the Reformation

Week 3 Globalization

Week 4 Credit and the Social Order

Week 5 The Supernatural

Week 6 Crime and the Law

Week 7 Material Culture and Dress

Week 8 Magic and Science

Week 9 Representing Power

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will complete a 2,000 word essay for formative assessment, due in week 6, for which they will receive an individual tutorial.

Students taking the module as a core module will submit a 4,000 word assessed essay in week 10 of the autumn term. For those taking the module as an option module, a 4,000 word assessed essay will be due in week 2 of the spring term.

For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. They will also receive verbal feedback at an individual tutorial. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. 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. Supervisors are available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700. London: Allen Lane, 2003.

Roper, Lyndal. Oedipus and the Devil: Witchcraft, Sexuality and Religion in Early Modern Europe. London: Routledge, 1994.

Brook, Timothy. Vermeer's Hat: the Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World. London: Profile, 2008.

Scott, Joan. "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis" American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5 (Dec., 1986), pp. 1053-1075

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores 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. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.