Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • Italian Language 1B (ITAL1102) OR Italian Language 1A (ITAL1071) or an equivalent to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and Joint and 'with' programmes: Italian Language 2B (ITAL2031) OR Italian Language 2A (ITAL2111). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • N/A


  • To introduce the meaning and significance of the Renaissance in Italy as manifest in selected literary works and artistic movements and products.
  • To offer a comprehensive overview of the development of written and spoken Italian from its first appearance in medieval written vernaculars to the Renaissance period.
  • To enhance students' knowledge of the Italian language and of Italian culture, to increase their cultural competence, and to reflect on the meaning of cultural competence as a component of individual subjectivity.
  • To show students that the ultimate goal of the Italian programme at Durham is to make them competent and independent users of Italian culture in all its various manifestations and its consistency over time.


  • The meaning and broader significance of the word ‘Renaissance’ will be explored in its wide-ranging ramifications and subtle implications by approaching some of the texts that have left an indelible mark on Italian and European culture.
  • The early history of the Italian vernacular will be explored in relation to relevant debates and literary works.
  • The study of literary works will vary following a regular updating of teaching material but will include selections from texts of primary importance such as (e.g.) Machiavelli’s Principe, Ariosto's Orlando furioso, Castiglione’s Cortegiano, as well as masterpieces by further Renaissance authors.
  • The significance of the artistic output will also be addressed by looking at a selection of works and writings by artists like (e.g.) Alberti, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo, in the context of the Renaissance theory and practice of the arts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Gain a sense of the historical, literary and artistic context of the Italian Renaissance,
  • Become familiar with some of the literary and artistic products of the period,
  • Understand the work of writers and artists in the context of their literary and/or artistic genres and against the background of Italian Renaissance society.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • develop reading skills to enable them to read Renaissance texts, as well as critical skills that will help them view and interpret Renaissance art.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should have extended considerably their critical perception of an extremely rich and highly diversified literary and artistic culture.
  • Should have an extended ability to gather, process and critically evaluate information and evidence from a wide variety of sources.

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

  • This module is taught by means of a weekly lecture and fortnightly seminars in smaller groups.
  • Students will be encouraged to participate in class discussion, to contribute with seminar presentations and to work in close relationship with their peers. The learning environment will be supplemented by the use of duo (Durham University Online), a software that will facilitate communication between students and teacher.
  • Students are required to attend all lectures and seminars and are expected to prepare themselves for classes and participate actively in discussions.
  • Independent learning will be encouraged by preparation for seminars and by research for the summative essays.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 2,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative work will take the form of peer-led, question-driven discussions during the seminars. Students will have the opportunity to analyze texts and discuss essay topics through group work and presentations.

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