Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To encourage a critical and scholarly approach to the social, political, economic and cultural history of Northumbria as a region from its origin in the 6th century to the eve of the Norman Conquest.
  • To provide first-hand experience of the detailed study and interpretation of source-materials for the exploration of historical problems.
  • To develop understanding of the character of different types of source-materials and their application to the study of early medieval England.


  • This module studies Northumbria from around 500 through to the Norman Conquest, dealing in particular with: the origins of the kingdom of Northumbria, the period of its greatness in the seventh century and the age of Bede, the Viking attacks and independent Viking kingdom, and the emergence of the earldom of Northumbria.
  • Special attention will be paid to the community of St Cuthbert at Lindisfarne, Chester-le-Street and Durham.
  • The module will concentrate on contemporary writings, but also important will be the evidence of archaeological sites and coins, manuscripts and art objects - some of the most spectacular of which are preserved in Durham.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • understanding of the range and nature of the sources for Northumbrian history and the range of problems relating to them;
  • insights into the creation and purpose of written historical sources, and the extent to which historical reconstruction on the basis of these and the related non-written sources is possible;
  • insights into the development of a defined geographical area over a long period of time.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/;
  • In addtion, students will acquire skills in the close analysis and evaluation of historical texts, including understanding of how critical historical techniques and technical ancillary disciplines can be brought to bear on them, and in the interpretation of non-written sources.
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:
  • 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;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • 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;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge' research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 Termly in Terms 1 & 2 30 mins 1
Seminars 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision Sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 540
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 Max of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 50%
Essay 2 Max of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 50%
Component: Document Paper Component Weighting: 35%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Document Paper (unseen document, gobbet paper) 3 hours 100%
Component: Essay Exmamination Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen essay examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography), submitted in Term 1. This will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet. Coursework essays are formative as well as summative. They are to be submitted in two copies, of which one will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet. Preparation to participate in seminars and tutorials. At least one oral presentation in each term, and at least two practice gobbets in each term.

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