Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ARCH41130: THE ANGLO-SAXON WORLD AD 400-1100

Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2018/19 Module Cap


  • None.


  • Either Issues in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MELA 40630) OR Research and Study Skills in Archaeology (ARCH59730) OR Issues in Medieval History (HIST41830) OR English Literary Studies Research Methods and Resources (ENGL51130).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the range of source material available for the Anglo-Saxon period, broadly AD 400-1100.
  • To study the emergence, development and consolidation of Anglo-Saxon culture by means of history, archaeology, art history and literature of the period.
  • To build on Issues in Medieval and Renaissance Studies module and Research and Study Skills in Archaeology module by encouraging students in an interdisciplinary approach that seeks to integrate the varied material and written discourses relating to the period AD 400-1100.
  • To complement other optional modules in the MA Medieval and Renaissance Studies offered in the MLAC and in other departments and other optional modules in the MA Archaeology (Historic Strand).
  • To offer the possibility of further critical exploration of the topic in the MA dissertation module in both the MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the MA in Archaeology (Historic Strand).


  • The module will explore the core issues of kingship and cult, monasticism and artistic production and politics and power in England in the fifth to eleventh centuries AD (dependent on staff availability). Drawing on the expertise of four specialists in the period from different areas of research (history, archaeology, art history and literature), the module will capture the remarkable essence of the Anglo-Saxon achievement by means of interdisciplinary teaching using a wide range of sources. The module is divided into four thematic sections and organised chronologically to illustrate how major social, religious and political changes over time can be discerned across the sources for the period; a structure that aims to promote cross-disciplinary debate and research.
  • The module will be introduced with two skills-based teaching sessions that familiarise students with different resources for study and their uses. The dramatic changes in the material culture, political arrangements and religious ideals, evident in the sources of the seventh and eighth centuries, will then be critically scrutinised by means of three seminars juxta-posing evidence from the historical, literary and archaeological records. The arrival and development of monasticism and its’ impact on production, trade and exchange will be introduced and explored in the following three classes with a strong focus on art and architecture, production and economy. In the final series of seminars, the late Anglo-Saxon political scene will be investigated with emphasis on the archaeology of administration and power and the role, impact and legacies of significant religious and political figures of the late Saxon era.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A broad knowledge of the development and consolidation of Anglo-Saxon society and culture from AD 400 to 1100.
  • A detailed knowledge of the key themes of Kingship and Cult, Monasticism and Production and Power and Politics based upon a variety of sources.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to use and integrate a range of interdisciplinary source material relevant to this period.
  • An ability to understand social, political, religious and cultural changes and trajectories by means of varied source materials.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to write cogently and persuasively on a specialised comparative topic within the subject area of the module, drawing on the work of pervious scholars as necessary.
  • Enhance presentation skills using a variety of media (written work, oral presentations, seminar papers etc.).

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

  • Tutorials, seminars, presentations, draft bibliography and assessed essays.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 In weeks 4 and 6 of Epiphany Term 1 hour 2
Seminars 11 Fortnightly in Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms 2 hours 22
Preparation and Reading 276
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessed Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assessed essay on a comparative topic up to 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

At least one seminar presentation per term; a draft bibliography on the chosen essay topic for the second tutorial in the Epiphany 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