Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2010/11 Module Cap n/a Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level one module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To engender probing analysis and questioning of the origins of one of the principal aspects of the development of political power in European history;
  • To ensure that students have an in-depth and critical understanding of approaches to the nature of power, in terms of ideological belief, ritual expression, social context, and practical manifestation.
  • To ensure that students have experience in the interpretation and application of a range of historical sources - textual, numismatic, archaeological, artistic - and that they have at least an elementary knowledge of technical constraints and research requirements.


  • The development of kingship in Europe from the first to the tenth centuries with particular regard to the following aspects
  • The warrior role of kings
  • Sacral kingship in pagan contexts
  • Christian kingship in the context of the Old Testament and the thought of early medieval churchmen
  • The ritual framework of kingship
  • The origins of the royal court
  • The king's government and his relationship with his subjects
  • The king's peace and the relativity of power

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • insights into the ideological basis of power and how the nature of this can be established and investigated with regard to historical periods, and into the analytical frameworks applicable to the reality of how early medieval states actually functioned;
  • understanding and knowledge of centrally important texts, monuments, art objects and archaeological sites of early medieval Europe
  • understanding of and familiarity with the conceptual issues and methodological problems surrounding the principal rulers of early medieval Europe.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject-specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
  • Students will acquire skills in close argument and analysis combined with use of a wide range of evidential proof, and in the imaginative, conceptual development of hypotheses.
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 lecture in term 3 1 hour 21
Seminars 7 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two, introductory seminar in term 1 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1 maximum of 2000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 50%
essay 2 maximum of 2000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
unseen examination two-hours 100%

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