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 None. Location Durham


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


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • HIST 2491 Early Renaissance Europe


  • To provide students with a broad introduction to a period of great importance in the passage of western society from 'the Middle Ages' to modernity.
  • The module promotes the development of their critical and analytical skills by confronting them with some of the major methodlogical problems which study of the period raises.


  • The module provides an opportunity to examine some of the major changes in the organisation of society and in ideas, attitudes and culture which took place in western Europe during this period, and to evaluate thier interpretation in modern scholarship.
  • Attention will be given to a number of different but complementary areas of inquiry: social structure, political organisation, art, culture and mental horizions.
  • The whole of western Europe is included, though with a particular concentration on Italy and the Low Countries. Participants will be encouraged to trace both parallels and contrasts between developments in different regions, as well as in different spheres of life and thought.
  • Particular topics covered will include: the impact of plague and large-scale warfare upon western society, the flourishing of urban culture in Italy and the Low Countries, trade, exploration and the changing boundaries of European life, the emergence of 'Renaissance' ideas and values and the changing perspectives of modern historical scholarship on the period.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • a broad familiarity with some of the principal regions, institutions and social formations in western Europe and of a variety of kinds of historical development affecting them during the period;
  • a more detailed knowledge of specific developments, issues and events and of the ways in which historians have endeavoured to understand and explain them.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
  • 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.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:
  • 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 in Terms 1 & 2; revision lecture 1 hour 20
Seminars 8 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two; setup seminar; pre-seminar consultation and group activity 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 scholarly apparatus 2000 words 50%
essay 2 - not including scholarly apparatus 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] 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