Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to R9K807


  • None.


  • Research Skills for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MELA44330); Issues in Medieval and Early ModernStudies (MELA40630).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop students’ understanding of texts and cultures 1100-1789
  • To enable students to develop a perspective informed by cultural material in a range of vernaculars and from a range of national traditions
  • To introduce students to recent research agendas in medieval and early modern texts and cultures
  • To build on the Issues in Medieval and Early Modern Studies module by encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to texts and cultures
  • To enable students to study a range of materials from which they might select a focus for their MA dissertation (for the compulsory dissertation module)
  • To complement other optional modules in the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
  • For those students with a particular interest in texts and cultures, the module is intended to complement Texts and Cultures I. Both modules focus on texts and cultures but each will introduce students to a different new research direction within this area.


  • Students will analyse texts and cultural materials produced in a variety of settings and originally composed in a variety of languages (usually including Spanish, Italian, German, French and English). Rather than dealing with each national tradition in isolation, seminars will move between material from different times and in different languages in order to encourage a comparative approach.
  • Each year the module will focus on a couple of themes, which will change from year to year in order to reflect cutting-edge research agendas. For example, in the first year of the course it will be appropriate to focus on visual cultures and theatre.
  • Other themes in future years may include literary knowledge, however the aim will be to refocus the course in line with future research developments, which may be different from those currently envisaged.
  • Each seminar will explore the set themes through the lens of particular texts or other cultural material, which are likely to include canonical literary texts as well as other textual and visual material.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A sophisticated understanding and knowledge of texts and cultures 1100-1789.
  • A trans-national perspective on textual and cultural material from the medieval and early modern periods
  • A knowledge of recent research agendas in medieval and early modern texts and cultures, with a focus on one central strand of these
  • An in-depth and detailed understanding and knowledge of one chosen area within medieval and early modern texts and cultures
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to analyse medieval and early modern textual and cultural material, employing a variety of specialist methodological tools and perspectives
  • An ability to write cogently and persuasively on a specialised topic within medieval and early modern texts and cultures
  • An ability to trace common themes, techniques and concerns across national traditions and across different time periods, and to account for commonalities and differences.
Key Skills:
  • Enhanced skills in presenting ideas and formulating arguments, both orally and in writing

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The course will be team-taught. Each seminar will focus on particular texts or visual material, and will be led by one or two subject specialists in that area.
  • Students will be provided with a reading list, and will be required to read specified material in advance of the seminar, as well as encouraged to follow up further reading afterwards. During the seminar, students will formulate and present their own ideas and respond to those of their peers and instructors.
  • While a working knowledge of French, German, Italian or Spanish would be helpful for students, in seminars non-English texts will be studied in English translation.
  • A round-table session focused on student presentations will give students the opportunity to present their initial ideas for a specialist research project within the area of the module. The module convenor, together with other colleagues, will then advise each student on their project and point them to an appropriate subject specialist to serve as their supervisor.
  • Students will research a suitable topic under the guidance of their supervisor. Each student will have two one-hour tutorials with their supervisor.
  • The student will then produce a 5,000-word essay for summative assessment.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Every 1-2 weeks in Michaelmas and early Epiphany 2 hours 18
Round Table 1 2 hours 2
Tutorials 2 Twice during Epiphany at times agreed between student and supervisor 1 hour 2
Preparation and Reading 278
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Presentation of ideas during seminar discussion. Seminar presentation during the round-table.

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