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Ancien Régime France, 1610-1789 - HIS00154I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Stuart Carroll
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Ancien Régime France was Europe’s most important state. It was also the most diverse, encompassing some of Europe’s most economically and culturally advanced regions, as well as some of its most backward. This diversity makes fascinating for history in itself. But this was also a period of immense upheaval. The module examines the long term causes and consequences of this. We will explore the long term impact of religious violence in the first half of the seventeenth century how and why France emerged thereafter as Europe’s dominant power.

We investigate why the state proved so incapable of reform in the eighteenth century and what led to its eventual collapse. We explore the role of social change and religious conflict in generating new ideas about politics and society. These ideas were a direct consequence of the experience of civil conflict. The impact of these ideas can be gauged by the fact that by the mid-seventeenth century France had replaced Italy as the centre of the civilized world. During the eighteenth century civilized French manners and its culture conquered the rest of Europe. The lectures and seminars will address the history of France thematically, addressing key issues over long time periods and also chronologically, showing how beliefs, institutions and social groups developed and changed over time. The discussion groups will allow us to explore major themes in greater depth by analysing primary sources. The module assumes no prior knowledge of French history, or of the French language.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to study particular historical topics in depth
  • To develop students’ ability to examine a topic from a range of perspectives and to strengthen their ability to work critically and reflectively with secondary and primary material

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have acquired a deep knowledge of the specific topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to use and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources
  • Be able to evaluate the arguments that historians have made about the topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to study independently through seminar-based teaching

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 1-hour plenary/lecture and a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11 of semester 1. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW) during which there are no seminars. Students prepare for and participate in eight 1-hour plenaries/lectures and eight 2-hour seminars in all.

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

  1. Introduction: A Tour de France
  2. Social Structure
  3. Politics, 1610-1715
  4. Politics, 1715-89
  5. Religion: The Counter-Reformation
  6. Religion: Dissent
  7. Culture Wars: Court and Civil Society
  8. Enlightenment

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment, students will complete a referenced 1200 to 1500-word essay relating to the themes and issues of the module. This will be submitted in either the Week 5 or Week 9 RAW week (on the day of the weekly seminar).

For summative assessment, students will complete an Assessed Essay (2000 words, footnoted). This will comprise 100% of the overall module mark.

Summative assessments will be due in the assessment period.

Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment 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 the summative assessment task, 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 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:

  • James B Collins, The State in Early Modern France. 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • William Beik, A Social and Cultural History of Early Modern France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • Robin Briggs, Early Modern France, 1560-1715. 2nd edition, (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

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.