Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST2501: The World we have Lost? Family and Household in Europe, c1550-1914

Department: History

HIST2501: The World we have Lost? Family and Household in Europe, c1550-1914

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 48 Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level 1 module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To promote an understanding of the significance of the family and the household within long-run processes of economic and social change in Europe.
  • To introduce students to the ways in which other disciplines in the social sciences have contributed to interpretations of the past, via the study of the family and the household.


  • The content of this module is designed:
  • To examine the extent to which the family and household have changed over time.
  • To examine the importance of the family and the household as a political, social and economic unit
  • Introduce the students to a range of primary sources, including contemporary accounts, portraits, censuses, household listings, wills, inventories and parish registers; and to methodologies developed for their use.
  • To introduce students to concepts and methodologies adopted by historians of the family and household from other disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology and demography.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of how the family and household have been shaped by broader forces of economic and social change but have also contributed to these changes
  • An ability to evaluate both recent and older interpretations of these changes
  • An ability to engage with and evaluate a wide range of sources
  • An awareness of how other disciplines can contribute to economic and social history.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Building on and developing skills gained at Level 1
  • Deepening and extending historical understanding through focused, concentrated modules
  • Developing precision, depth of understanding, and conceptual awareness.
  • In addition students will acquire:
  • An ability to evaluate both recent and older interpretations of these economic and social changes;
  • An ability to construct reasoned arguments about the development and significance of the family and household to European society, drawing on work by economic, social and cultural historians.
  • An ability to evaluate different sources and methodologies.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ sophisticated reading skills to gather, sift, process, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, material, aural, visual, audio-visual etc.)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information, devise and sustain coherent and cogent arguments
  • The ability to write and think under pressure, manage time and work to deadlines
  • The ability to make effective use of information and communications technology.

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:
  • Seen open book examination to test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations 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.
  • Coursework remains a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 17 17 1 hour 17
Seminars 7 7 1 hour 7
Preparation and 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 or assignment of equivalent length e.g. source commentaries 2,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography 100%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments submitted in writing or delivered orally in a group seminar context.

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