Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module HIST2951: Robin Hood

Department: History

HIST2951: Robin Hood

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap 50 Location Durham


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


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Explore the significance of the Robin Hood legends for our understanding of the history of late medieval England.
  • Develop the way in which students use literary and other types of primary sources.
  • Contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic Aims for study at Level 2.


  • The module is divided into six sections, in which the following issues are explored:
  • The exploration of the earliest written versions of the Robin Hood stories. What are the legends about? How do they compare with modern versions of the myths?
  • As today, in the fifteenth century Robin Hood was 'all things to all men'. He appealed alike to peasant and gentry audiences. What was it about the hero that these groups admired? In what ways did Robin Hood represent a solution, albeit a fantastical one, to the problems they faced?
  • Like many modern heroes, Robin Hood was also a criminal. There will be an examination of the importance of the idealised criminal life of Robin Hood and his accomplices. What do their illegal activities tell us about crime and justice in the late middle ages? Most importantly, what does Robin Hood tell us about attitudes to the law and criminals in the period?
  • The forest was socially, politically and economically important in the late middle ages. It is, of course, the setting for many of the Robin Hood myths. There will be an examination of the significance of the forest in late-medieval life.
  • Although Robin Hood appears in the latest BBC adaptation as a postmodern figure, interested in the interraction of Christendom and Islam, and open to the ideas of the latter, in the middle ages he was conventionally pious. Religious symbols and satire feature prominently in the myths. The penultimate section of the module will pick up on Robin's piety and examine what it tells us about the preoccupations of those who listened to the tales.
  • The final section of the module will draw together its various strands and will revisit the identity of Robin Hood. Who was he and why was he so popular? Comparison will be made with other heroes in preindustrial societies.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an understanding of the content and significance of the Robin Hood legends in late-medieval England.
  • an awareness of the source of material used by historians to investigate the social history of late-medieval England
  • to provide a basis for level 3 work on the social, economic and political history of the late middle ages.
  • experience researching medieval history using primary sources
Subject-specific Skills:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/Index.htm
Key Skills:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/Index.htm

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 20 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2; revision lecture in term 3 1 hour 20
Seminars 8 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two; introductory seminar in term 1; revision seminar in term 3 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Short source commentary to be presented orally in seminar.

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