Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Normally an A or B grade in A-Level History, or an acceptable equilalent (e.g. in terms of Scottish Highers or lB)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module will provide students with a broad introduction to a formative period of European history which is rarely taught in schools.
  • It aims to enlarge their imaginative range through studying remote societies, and to sharpen their critical awareness by considering the complex problems of historical evidence presented by the early middle ages.


  • The aftermath of the Roman Empire, the movements of barbarian peoples such as the Goths, Vandals, Franks, and Huns, the emergence of the kingdoms and proto-states of Europe, with a special focus on the Kingdom of the Franks and the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England and early Ireland, the impact of the Vikings on western Europe, the development of kingship and aristocratic warrior society, the rituals and machinery of government in societies which are often very foreign to modern eyes, the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the growth of towns and the life of the peasantry who worked the land, and the cultural basis of barbarian Europe.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To give students a broad understanding of the shaping of western Europe and what it owed respectively to the Roman foundations and the barbarian input;
  • To familiarise students with approaches and analytical frameworks for understanding fundamental processes in European medieval history such as: state formation, kingship, warrior society, early judicial forms, conversion, politico-ecclesiastical organisation, transmission and development of culture
  • To familiarise students with the use of a wide range of types of historical evidence (including art, architecture, coins, and archaeology) and with approaches to them.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • Lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • Seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students??? ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Unseen examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 weekly in terms 1 & 2; revision lectures 1 hour 21
Seminars 7 3 in term one, 3 in term two; pre-seminar consultations 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour written examination 100%
Component: Two Essays Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1 2000 words not inclusive of bibliography 50%
essay 2 2000 words not inclusive of bibliography 50%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments submitted in writing or delivered orally and discussed either 1:1 or in a group context.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University