Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST2441: Selling the Tudor Monarchy

Department: History

HIST2441: Selling the Tudor Monarchy

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level one module in History.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to the ways in which the Tudors governed their realms, the problems posed by the accession of a usurper, a child and two women, and the impact of the Break with Rome on the Tudors’ legitimacy.
  • To explore how, in light of these problems, the Tudors represented their power to their subjects and how their subjects responded as well as how subject reacted independently to the Tudors and the problems posed by usurpation, minority, queenship and the Break with Rome.
  • To allow students to evaluate the different ways in which power and legitimacy could be displayed and articulated (e.g. liturgies, sermons, processions, progresses, print, art, drama) and engage with the methodological issues raised by such material.
  • To engage critically with key historiographical works about ‘propaganda’, what this term means when applied to early modern societies and how useful a concept it is.
  • Contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic Aims for study at Level 2.


  • Focused around Kevin Sharpe’s Selling the Tudor Monarchy, as well as other key works, this module engages critically with arguments that the Tudors were ‘masters of spin’ and that, because of both a series of political accidents (the usurpation of Richard III, Henry VIII’s marital problems resulting in the Break with Rome, the accession of a child and two women) and the inherent weakness of the early modern state, the dynasty had to rely on visual, ceremonial and performative ways to enforce and enhance their legitimacy and power. It will examine the ways in which Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth governed and addressed the particular challenges they faced; it will investigate the coercive power of the Tudor state; and it will explore the range of ways in which the Tudors allegedly sought to uphold their legitimacy: liturgies, processions, progresses, sermons, art, tapestry, printed pamphlets etc.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An awareness of the political and constitutional problems posed by the accession of a usurper, minor and two women, as well as of the Break with Rome, and an ability to evaluate these critically.
  • An understanding of how ‘propaganda’ was used by the state and its subjects and why.
  • A knowledge of key modern works on these issues and an ability to evaluate these critically.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students’ ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge.
  • Summative coursework will test students’ ability to communicate ideas in writing, present clear and cogent arguments succinctly and show appropriate critical skills as relevant to the particular module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 17 16 in Term 2, 1 in Term 3 1 hour 17
Seminars 7 6 in Term 2, 1 in Term 3 1 hour 7
Preparation & Reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework assessment consisting of a short essay (max. 2,000 words) or assignment of equivalent length e.g. source commentaries 2,000 words excluding footnotes and bibliography. 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative work done in preparation for and during seminars, including oral and written work as appropriate to the module. The summative coursework will have a formative element by allowing students to develop ideas and arguments for the examination and to practice writing to similar word limits.

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