Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to V1K507


  • None


  • Research Methods and Resources (MELA53830), or equivalent research methods module.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to encourage students to engage in a complex way with broad issues central to the long seventeenth century in an explicitly inter-disciplinary fashion. This module will provide one of the most distinctive aspects of the MA in Seventeenth-Century Studies, and is, along with the Researcg Methods module, the intellectual and pedagogical core of the MA;
  • to provide greater awareness of the specialist approaches of different disciplines to seventeenth-century studies, and of the advanced inter-disciplinary approaches available;
  • to provide an opportunity to write an extended essay or work of textual criticism on a specialised issue or issues in seventeenth-century studies in a necessarily interdisciplinary fashion;
  • to encourage intellectual dialogue between students about their research at an early stage of their postgraduate education, through seminars and the presentation of discussion documents;
  • to provide a wider appreciation of complex issues in seventeenth-century studies in preparation for the dissertation;
  • to develop student skills, appropriate to Level 4, in analysis and writing about these issues.


  • The seminars will engage students as a group on a range of subjects in an interdisciplinary fashion. An appropriate programme of seminars will be drawn up for the start of Michaelmas term by the Module Convenor in consultation with the Director of the MA in Seventeenth-Century Studies. Themes will be taken from the following menu of options: colonialism, from Renaissance to Enlightenment, gender and the body, the history of the book, learning, material culture, order and creativity in the visual/musical arts, political economy and thought, print culture, reception of classical texts, religion and society, salons and academies, scepticism and belief, social stratification, science and culture, State and person, theatre and society, travel and trade, visual evidence, war and its impact.
  • In so far as is possible, themes will be targeted at the intellectual interests (and likely intellectual directions) of each particular cohort of students. As well as preparing students to write the assessed work for this module, it is also therefore likely to assist them directly as well as indirectly in preparation for their dissertation and possibly even their choses option modules.
  • The seminars will be based around material drawn from at least two modules (preferably more), and student presentations are expected similarly to include material drawn from more than one disciplinary tradition. Students will be directed at the start of the course to literature and other sources on the subjects of the designated seminars.
  • In choosing the subject of their assessed work, studets will not be confined to those topics for which there have been seminars; but any proposals falling outside the themes of the seminars would have to be approved by the Module Convenor in consultation with the Director of the MA in Seventeenth-Century Studies and the appropriate tutorial supervisor(s).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • familiarity with key, complex issues in seventeenth-century studies, and the principal works of modern scholarship in several disciplines relating to these issues;
  • a specialised understanding of inter-disciplinary approaches relevant to the issues under consideration;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • an ability to write an extended essay on a specialised, complex issue or issues in seventeenth-century studies that demonstrates engagement with more than one discipline;
Key Skills:
  • an ability to communicate ideas orally in seminars and groups, to engage in intellectual exchange, and to make presentations at an advanced level.

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

  • The module will be taught in ten two-hour seminars over Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. Some seminars will be taught by one academic, but where appropriate the seminars will be led by at least two members of academic staff, who will generally be drawn from different contributing departments. Students will, therefore, benefit from focussed discussion with Durham academics specialising in a wide variety of different disciplines, but whose expertise is in whole or in part seventeenth-century studies, and who are thus able to bring differing disciplinary perspectives to bear upon the issue at hand at the highest level. Students will be expected to give one short presentation to a seminar and to contribute to discussion in those seminars in which they are not presenting.
  • Tutorials in Epiphany term will provide the framework within which each students plans, conducts further research and writes, under supervision, the assessed essay. The essay should normally be designed to bring in elements from two or more of the selected seminar themes or two or more different subject areas. Tutorial support will, therefore, normally be provided by more than one supervisor in more than one department/discipline. Students will be directed by their supervisor(s) to further literature and sources specific to their chosen subject of assessed work in the tutorial during week 3 of Epiphany term.
  • Learning Outcomes will be tested through assessement of the 5,000-word essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 Epiphany term 1 hour 2
Seminars 10 Michaelmas and Epiphany terms 2 hours 20
Preparation & Reading 278
Total 300

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Presentation to one taught seminar each term; discussion of work in progress in tutorials on the basis of oral reports; the production of a short, talored bibliography for the tutorial in week 5 of Epiphany term; presentation of the subject of the assessed work or dissertation topic.

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