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Joan of Arc - Semester 1 - HIS00148H

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Craig Taylor
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Joan of Arc was born in 1412 and grew up during a time of civil war and invasion. At the age of just seventeen, she rode into battle to unite France against English domination in the Hundred Years War and in 1431, aged only nineteen, she was put on trial for heresy and sorcery by an ecclesiastical court of the Inquisition and was burned at the stake. Her story represents a virtually unique confluence of some of the key themes of medieval history. Joan had an extraordinary impact upon the military and political situation in both fifteenth-century France and England, arguably turning the tide of the Hundred Years War in favour of Charles VII. The fact that she achieved all of this as a mere peasant girl amplifies the magnitude of her achievements but also opens up other ways of looking at her story: her trial for heresy provides an important window into contemporary attitudes towards religion and gender, as Joan was effectively persecuted by the established Church for her supposedly non-conformist views on spirituality and the role of women. The first part of this module will explore the story of Joan and look in particular at the records from her trial for heresy at Rouen in 1431. The second part of the module will look at the debates surrounding her memory after her execution culminating in the testimony given by her friends and allies to rescue her reputation through the Nullification Trial from 1455 to 1456.

Related modules

Students taking this module must also take the second part in Semester 2.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to in depth study of a specific historical topic using primary and secondary material;
  • To enable students to explore the topic through discussion and writing; and
  • To enable students to evaluate and analyse primary sources.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Grasp key themes, issues and debates relevant to the topic being studied;
  • Have acquired knowledge and understanding about that topic;
  • Be able to comment on and analyse original sources;
  • Be able to relate the primary and secondary material to one another; and
  • Have acquired skills and confidence in close reading and discussion of texts and debates.

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1 and a 3-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11 of semester 1. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW). Students prepare for and participate in eight three-hour seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. The story of Joan of Arc
  2. The letters of Joan of Arc
  3. Visionary or heretic?
  4. Contemporary debates about Joan: Jean Gerson
  5. Contemporary debates about Joan: Christine de Pizan
  6. The Rouen Trial : the Preliminary stages
  7. The Rouen Trial : the Interrogations
  8. The Rouen Trial : the Charges against Joan and her Execution


Task Length % of module mark
Text Commentaries and Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative work, students will produce a text commentary.

The summative assessment will consist of two parts, to be submitted together:
a) Two text commentaries of 500-750 words; and
b) One 1,500-word essay.

The commentaries comprise 50% and the essay 50% of the overall mark for this module. Summative assessments will be due in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Text Commentaries and Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. 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 summative assessment tasks, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 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 of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For semester 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:

  • Larissa Juliet Taylor, The Virgin Warrior. The Life and Death of Joan of Arc (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).
  • Helen Castor, Joan of Arc (London: Faber and Faber, 2015).
  • Craig Taylor, trans., Joan of Arc, La Pucelle (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006).

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.