Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST31K3: Re-writing Queen Elizabeth

Department: History

HIST31K3: Re-writing Queen Elizabeth

Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 18 Location Durham


  • • Pass in at least TWO Level 2 modules in History.


  • N/A

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • N/A


  • To give students an advance understanding of alternative historical accounts of Elizabeth I written since 1603, their impact on mainstream accounts, and the significance of the lack of acknowledgement of this impact.
  • To engage critically with feminist and queer theories.
  • To develop the skills necessary for critical analysis and evaluation of a wide range of primary sources including manuscripts and printed histories, biographies, popular histories and literature, visual images, dramatic, televisual and operatic performances.
  • To advance understanding of how historical figures have been remembered and by whom, and the impact of establishing a canon of historians on current issues of diversity and inclusion.


  • The public representation of Queen Elizabeth I, one of the nation's most popular historical figures and national icons, has been dominated by elite, white, educated, protestant, straight men from her contemporaries, William Camden, John Foxe and Edmund Spenser, to modern historians, playwrights, film and TV producers. This module examines how Elizabeth's story has been retold by those outside this orthodox circle -- Catholics, women, LGBTQ, and working-class historians, writers, artists, and producers -- and explores the profound impact that these 'outsiders' have had on both mainstream accounts and popular consciousness; an impact that has been often been concealed or snubbed. The module will be focused around particular written, visual and dramatic accounts and, where appropriate, those of more orthodox writers; it will also ask students to engage with feminist and queer theories. Texts may include, but may not be limited to: Jane Austen's 'History of England' (1791); Agnes and Elizabeth Strickland's Lives of the Queens of England (1840-8), Lytton Strachey's Elizabeth and Essex (1928); Virginia Woolf's Orlando (1928) and Benjamin Britten's Gloriana (1953).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, students should have:
  • an understanding of historical accounts of Queen Elizabeth outside mainstream histories written by elite, educated, white, protestant, straight men and the often-unacknowledged impact of these accounts on mainstream histories.
  • an understanding of relevant feminist and queer theories.
  • an understanding of how historical figures have been remembered and by whom, and the impact of establishing a canon of historians on current issues of diversity and inclusion.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Challenging students' assumptions about the past and reflecting on the nature of the discipline (and, where appropriate, interdisciplinarity) at an advanced level.
  • Appreciating how historical knowledge is produced, what forms it takes, and the purposes it serves.
  • Reflecting on students' own historical consciousness and practice.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ sophisticated reading skills to gather, sift, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, aural visual, audio-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:
  • 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;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • Assessment:
  • Unseen Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen 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 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;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge' research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 Termly in Terms 1 & 2 30 mins 1
Seminars 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision Sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 540
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 3,000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Essay 2 3,000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Source Analyses 3,000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 32%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

1 essay of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus

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