Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module HIST44730: Work and Play in early modern Europe

Department: History

HIST44730: Work and Play in early modern Europe

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module will enable students to gain an advanced understanding of themes and debates about society and the economy in early modern Britain and Europe, from c.1500 to c.1800.


  • This module interrogates the supposedly opposite worlds of work and play in early modern Britain and Europe, asking ‘what is work’ and ‘what is leisure’? How did the meanings and experience of work and leisure change with urbanisation and industrialisation? We examine the experiences of different social groups, from the ‘leisure class’ who (it is said) never had to work, through the middling sorts who had elaborate and socially differentiated structures of work and leisure, to the working classes who often endured exploitative forms of labour and carved out individual and communal forms of leisure. Age and gender will be key considerations throughout. Were there ‘separate spheres’ of domesticity and the workplace; what work did women do, did children work, and in what areas? And how did this change over the period? The module will examine important historical and sociological texts, consider questions of evidence and methodology, and use primary sources. Seminar themes will include work and sociability among elites and professionals, the role of guilds, work and leisure inside and outside the household, unfree labour, and the working class.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialised area of history, demonstrating the use of primary and secondary sources
  • knowledge and understanding of the advanced historiography in the chosen area of specialism
Subject-specific Skills:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
  • Seminars and Group Discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; set reading of secondary and, where appropriate, primary readings; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of the economic, social and cultural history of early modern Britain and/or Europe.
  • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience.
  • Assessment is by means of a 5000 word essay which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of an aspect of the economic, social and cultural history of early modern Britain and/or Europe. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis, and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
seminars 8 weekly 2 hours 16
discussion groups 2 two a term 2 hours 4
Preparation and Reading 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

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