Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2010/11 Module Cap n/a Location Durham


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


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students at Level 1 to a period of history (14th and 15th centuries) unfamiliar to most of them, thus broadening their chronological range.
  • To introduce students to the ways in which the ideas of historians about this period have changed and developed.
  • To introduce students to different approaches to political history.


  • By the late 1350s, Edward III King of England had enjoyed remarkable military success against France and Scotland, capturing both their kings. He was able to demand territorial concessions and enormous ransoms from his opponents. Such achievements were built upon, and helped to further promote, a community of interest between the crown and the political community. One hundred years later, at the end of the period covered by this module, the picture could not have been more different. Under the third Lancastrian king Henry VI, son of the great Shakespearian hero Henry V, the crown lost almost all of its continental possessions, and in 1460 the king himself was captured by rival Yorkist lords. In 1461, with the coronation of Edward IV, Henry VI's cousin, a new dynasty was established on the throne.
  • The years 1360 to 1461 saw some of the most dramatic political episodes in England's history, including the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, the deposition of Richard II in 1399, and the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. It is the aim of this module to examine the causes of these upheavals and the reasons for the changing political fortunes of the English crown at home. Was this a period which saw the collapse of traditional medieval kingship in which politics became an anarchic scramble for the crown by rival nobles? How far did English people outside the royal and noble families have a stake and interest in political change? This module draws on a recent and exciting historiography, and on the primary sources themselves, to explore the changing structures of political power in the age of the Hundred Years War.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A knowledge of the political history of late medieval England.
  • An understanding of debates between historians about the nature and power of kingship, the relationship between war and state formation, and the principal causes of political crisis in this period.
  • A familiarity with the use of different types of primary source material in the period.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/;
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/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.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2; revision lecture 1 hour 20
Seminars 8 4 in Term one, 3 in Term two; revision seminar 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Formative benefits from the summative assessments, plus one or more short assignments delivered orally and discussed 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