Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap 50 Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level 2 module in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students at Level 3 to a comparative history of European rulership from c.1250-c.1500.
  • to encourage students to think conceptually and critically about the meaning, articulation and limits of political power in the late middle ages.
  • to introduce students to a range of historical, art-historical and literary material.
  • to encourage an awareness of the interaction between politics and culture.
  • to satisfy the generic aims of Level 3 single modules in history.


  • Following recent work which has provided new approaches to the study of the development of monarchical government, this module will be less concerned with examining the administrative and institutional apparatus of government than with exploring the political culture of late medieval Europe.
  • The module will include the following themes, to be introduced in lectures and explored in more detail in seminars: Rules for ruling (contemporary ideas about good and bad governance in a range of sources, from the traditional 'mirrors for princes' literature, scholastic political thought, to the political philosophy of writers such as Sir John Fortescue and Niccolo Macchiavelli).
  • Princely education and childhood (the upbringing and training of the 'perfect prince').
  • The princely image in art, architecture and literature (the creation, dissemination and function of image-making in texts such as Joinville's Life of Saint Louis).
  • Ritual (coronation, funeral, the royal touch, processions, entries into towns, the court, chivalry).
  • Queenship.
  • Reform and criticism of rulers (rebellion and deposition).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understanding of the changing ideals and expectations of monarchy over time.
  • Knowledge of the similarities and differences between various monarchical forms of government across Western Europe in the late middle ages (English, French, Spanish and Bohemian Kings, Holy Roman Emperors, Dukes of Burgundy and Italian Princes).
  • Understanding of the role and historiography of ritual in the process of government.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/;
  • In addition students will acquire the ability to handle different types of primary source material from different disciplines.
  • To reflect upon the nature of history as a discipline, by analysing the questions historians ask of their primary sources and/or the nature of the dabates among historians.
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.
  • Assessment:
  • 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 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. In addition, seen Examinations (with pre-released paper) are intended to enable Level 3 students to produce more considered and reflective work;
  • 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; 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: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2000 words 50%
Essay 2 2000 words 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen examination [paper to be made available not less than twenty-four hours before the start of the examination] 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

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 or short written assignment.

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