Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST2951: Robin Hood

Department: History

HIST2951: Robin Hood

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


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


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Explore the significance of the Robin Hood legends for our understanding of the history of late medieval England.
  • Develop the way in which students use literary and other types of primary sources.
  • Contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic Aims for study at Level 2.


  • For he was a good outlaw, And did poor men much good. So ends the Gest of Robyn Hode, the earliest known story about the famous outlaw dating from the fifteenth century. In this module we will use these surviving rhymes of Robin Hood to explore the outlaw hero as he was portrayed to medieval audiences, finding a rather different hero to the one we currently know. Robin Hood was all things to all men in late medieval England; from the May Games to the court of Henry VIII, Robin and his merry men enjoyed widespread popularity. But why did tales of this low-born northern thief have such broad appeal? Although this module will grapple with questions surrounding the reality of Robin Hood, we will focus on the much more interesting and complex set of questions surrounding what these stories can tell us about the attitudes of late medieval society. How far did the rhymes reflect a widespread anticlericalism in England? Did they represent the fears of the county gentry during the Wars of the Roses? And what were the attitudes of medieval society towards authority, kingship, crime and violence? With Robin Hood as our guide, we will explore the social, cultural and political lives of lords, peasants and townsfolk at the end of the Middle Ages.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of the content and significance of the Robin Hood legends in late-medieval England.
  • An awareness of the source of material used by historians to investigate the social history of late-medieval England
  • To provide a basis for level 3 work on the social, economic and political history of the late middle ages.
  • Experience researching medieval history using primary sources.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to identify and to critique conflicting historical interpretations
  • Deepening and extending historical understanding through focused, concentrated modules
  • Developing precision, depth of understanding, and conceptual awareness.
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, visual, etc.)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing, 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:
  • Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources. The additional summative assignments will test knowledge and skills specific to the module, such as analysis of relevant primary sources, or critical engagement with the historiography as demonstrated through book reviews and article abstracts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 Term 1 1 hour 16
Seminars 7 Term 1 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 177
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 100%
Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment or assignments 1,000 words total, not including footnotes and bibliography where relevant 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative benefits from the 1,000 word summative assignment and from work done during and in preparation for seminars.

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