Approaches to the Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1: Theories and Perspectives (20 credits)
This module will introduce you to the different disciplinary perspectives that scholars have taken in studying the premodern past. As well as the core disciplines of Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology, it will examine the approaches of art historians, political scientists, social anthropologists and, more recently, pyschologists and cognitive neuroscientists to the history and culture of the medieval and early modern periods.
Approaches to the Medieval and Early Modern Studies 2: Medieval and Early Modern Canterbury and its World (20 credits)
This module will look at how the different disciplinary approaches outlined in the ‘Theories and Perspectives’ module have been applied in practice by scholars wishing to understand various aspects of pre modern Canterbury and the men and women who lived in, worked in or visited the city.
Applied Humanities: Employability in Practice (20 credits)
This module will introduce Humanities students to a range of work related skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, decisionmaking, initiative, and creativity. In doing so, we see this module as enhancing students’ awareness of the work environment, thus improving students’ employability and selfawareness of their individual career planning. We work with a range of local partners to provide placement opportunities for students studying this module.
More details can be found on this page.
Text and Sources for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (20 credits)
This module will look at the various types of primary sources – archival, literary, material and environmental – that medievalists and early modernists use to understand past cultures. It will examine the practical challenges that face scholars in accessing this material, as well as the ways in which attitudes towards the remnants of the past have shaped scholarly practice. A number of case studies from a national and international perspective will be used to illustrate these themes.
Independent Study – 8,000-10,000 word research dissertation (40 credits)
In this module, you will undertake a formal, longform independent dissertation project, entailing detailed analysis of primary and secondary sources, onetoone supervision with a qualified member of staff, and significant independent study. You will submit a topic proposal in the spring of your second year, and consult with staff from then onwards about the nature and scope of your chosen research area.
Likely optional modules
Europe in the Age of the Vikings (20 credits)
In this module, you will be introduced to Europe in the age of the Vikings. It will examine the historiographical and popular (mis)conceptions of the Vikings and place them in their broader historical and cultural context in Scandinavia and beyond.
Kings Queens and Conquerors in Medieval Europe (20 credits)
In this module, you will be introduced to the fascinating and colourful world of the kings, queens and conquerors who ruled medieval Europe between c. 750 and c. 1250. Focusing primarily on England, France and Germany, you will engage with a range of key themes including medieval kingship, the Vikings, the Church and conversion, monasticism and queenship.
Renaissance, Reformation and Revolution in the Early Modern World (20 credits)
In this module, you will be introduced to the major social, political, religious and economic developments which occurred across a broad expanse in Western Europe during the period 1450-1750. Topics covered include the Reformation, Humanism and the Renaissance, the printing press, colonial expansion, the Ottoman Empire, poverty, witchcraft, print, war, women and the Enlightenment. Above all, this module aims to help you forge connections and contrasts between these facets of the past.
Texts and Contexts I: Medieval to 18th Century (20 credits)
This module introduces you to medieval and early modern literatures. It aims to introduce you to some of the important themes, ideas, and genres within each period, and to situate these within the English literary tradition in its wider contexts. You will develop critical and historical skills for close reading and broader analysis.
Castles in Medieval Society (20 credits)
In this module, you will come to appreciate how castles are one of the most visible and imposing reminders of our medieval past. The ruins we see now are the result of dynamic changes in society, culture, politics and architecture. This module therefore investigates castles in their medieval context using archaeological evidence, the landscape and standing buildings alongside written documents. It will consider how castles were viewed in medieval society and chart the evolution of castle studies in the modern era.
The Crusades, c.1095-1229 (20 credits)
In this module, you will study the history of the crusading movement from its origins in the 1090s to the end of the sixth crusade. Along the way, you will explore major themes and debates, including, for example, the forces and influences that gave rise to the Crusades; the motives of crusaders; the causes, course and consequences of a series of Crusades; the Islamic response to the Crusades; the development of the crusader states; and the portrayal of the Crusades in film.
Anarchy, Law, War and Tyranny: Angevin England, 1128-1216 (20 credits)
In this module, you will study the history of England under the Angevin kings (Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and John) who governed a vast collection of crossChannel territories. Key topics include the ‘Anarchy’ of King Stephen’s reign (by way of background), the forging of the Angevin Empire under Henry II, Henry II’s fateful quarrel with Archbishop Thomas Becket, King Richard’s role in the Third Crusade and the disasters of John’s reign.
The Age of the Tudors, 1485-1603 (20 credits)
In this module, you will study the political history of England and its neighbouring realms from the end of the Wars of the Roses through to the Reformations of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Tying together political history with contemporary political theories, the module considers the major political events of all the Tudor reigns and the roles of major institutions such as Parliament and the Church.
Sex, Deviance and Death in the Sixteenth Century (20 credits)
In this module, you will be introduced to a variety of sixteenth century primary sources and shown how to work with sixteenth century texts and artefacts which which should deepen your knowledge of sixteenth century English history and its sources. Key topics include print culture, health, witchcraft, heresy, gender, and the role of women in sixteenth century England.
'The Monstrous Regiment': Women in Tudor and Stuart England (20 credits)
In this module, you will study how Tudor and Stuart women played a public political role through demonstrating religious piety and through defence of family interests in an overtly patriarchal society. Key topics include the roles of the Tudor and Stuart Queens; the political influence of aristocratic and gentry women and the lives of women below these elites. The effects of the Reformation, the Renaissance and the English Civil Wars will also be examined.
Life & Death in Medieval Europe (20 credits)
This module will introduce you to the archaeology and history of north west Europe c.900-1348 AD. This was a period of great change across all areas of life; encompassing the formation of states, the foundation of new forms of religious life, agricultural and technological change, and periods of disease. In this module you explore these themes through a range of source material including artefacts, cemeteries, agrarian and urban landscapes, narrative histories, administrative sources, and the built environment.
Martyrs and Exiles: Old English Language and Literature (20 credits)
Few students have the opportunity to study the first six hundred years of English language and literature, and the works of literature, history, and hagiography that were written in Old English during the Anglo Saxon period. This module will teach you the language skills necessary to translate and analyse prose and poetry written in Old English, and do this using the latest online hypertexts, textbooks, and other learning aids. If you are interested in studying literature in its historical, cultural, religious, and mythological contexts, or want to know more about what Tolkien read whilst he was writing The Lord of the Rings, then this module is for you.
The Once and Future King: Arthurian Literature (20 credits)
The literature of the later Middle Ages spans some four hundred and fifty years, and is home to much about Arthur and Camelot. Many figures from Arthurian literature will already be familiar to you, such as Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin, Lancelot, Morgan le Fay, Gawain, and Mordred. This module will introduce you to the origins and development of the Arthurian tradition in England, though we will focus on later works such as the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, which focuses on the adulterous affair between Guinevere and Lancelot, and the Alliterative Morte Arthure, in which the world of Camelot falls into destruction and ruin. As well as these works, a good portion of our study will be devoted to Thomas Malory’s prose compilation Le Morte d’Arthur, one of the first books to be printed in England, which broadly defines the Arthurian tradition as we know it today.
Elizabethan Theatre (20 credits)
This module focuses on the theatre of the 1580s and 1590s, a dynamic period that saw the establishment of the theatre as an entertainment industry and the development of playwriting on an unprecedented scale. In the course of our study you will investigate texts from the major genres of the Elizabethan stage: comedies, tragedies and histories, including subgenres such as revenge tragedy and romantic comedy. In addition to a close analysis of the module texts, you will also learn about the conventions and techniques used by Elizabethan playwrights and actors.
Jacobean Theatre (20 credits)
This module focuses on drama written during the reign of King James VI & I, between 1603 and 1625. The Jacobean period was an exceptional time for drama; writers such as William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Webster were at the height of their careers, the theatre provided an immensely popular and prolific entertainment industry and playwriting was developing into new and exciting directions. You will investigate plays from the major genres of the Jacobean stage: comedies, tragedies and histories, including subgenres such as citizen comedy and baroque revenge tragedy. In addition to close analysis of the module texts, you will also study the conventions and techniques used by Jacobean playwrights and actors.
Radicalisation and Retreat: Political Landscapes in Early Modern (20 credits)
Literature This module invites you to use your critical skills and your awareness of your own culture and take ‘the long view’ of certain current political issues. In 1633, William Prynne, a puritan with views that we might interpret as extremist, described the plays performed in the public theatres as ‘Sinfull, heathenish, lewde, ungodly spectacles, and most pernicious corruptions.’ This and other conflicting visions of Britishness were played out both rhetorically on the printed page and were physically fought for in an extraordinarily turbulent period that witnessed civil war, the execution of the monarch and the temporary instigation of an experimental form of republican government. On this module you will study the ways in which poets such as Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Andrew Marvell, John Milton and Lord Rochester responded to national vision(s) of Britishness and engaged with issues such as religious extremism, national security and civil liberties.
Eighteenth Century Fiction: Bunyan to Smollett (20 credits)
This module supplies a showcase for a remarkably rich range of novels, allowing you to sample the work not just of Bunyan and Smollett themselves but of several other novelists also active between 1678 and 1771. It promotes reflection upon the historical rhythms that connect novels separated in time perhaps by several decades, and upon the ways in which novelists echo or transform the themes and emphases of their predecessors; and it pays careful and sustained attention to the various styles of telling, and different ways of seeing, that the novel as a genre accommodates.
Early Church: Doctrine, Asceticism, Mysticism (20 credits)
This module aims to introduce students to selected areas of Christian doctrine and practice in the important period following the conversion of Constantine (312-13) to the Council of Chalcedon (451). Students will be introduced to the historic controversies concerning the doctrines of the Trinity and the Person of Christ, and key church leaders and theologians of the period. The formulation of doctrines will be related to key contextual themes, asceticism and mysticism.
From Norsemen to Normans, 911-1106 (20 credits)
In this module, you will discover how and why historians have long been fascinated by the Normans – not least because of the quantity and quality of the historical writing that celebrates their achievements and their magnificent architecture. Although 1066 is a date that looms large in British history, the Normans also settled in other areas of Europe. This module considers the principal ideas, approaches and debates that inform historians currently researching the Normans in Normandy, England and Southern Italy c.911c.1106.
King Stephen, Empress Matilda and the Anarchy: The Anglo Norman Dominions, 1120-54 (20 credits)
In this module, you will study some of the major aspects of the civil war between King Stephen (reigned 11351154) and the Empress Matilda, a period often described as ‘the Anarchy’. Themes explored include the causes and consequences of the civil war; the fate of English power in Northumbria and Normandy; the role of the Church and disputes over the election to bishoprics; the activities, loyalties and ambitions of major barons; and the forces and influences that helped to restore peace.
Queens, Maidens and Dowagers: Women in Medieval England (20 credits)
In this module, which draws on chronicles, letters and records, you will reflect on the diverse nature of women’s experiences in medieval England. The module investigates the roles open to queens, aristocratic ladies, peasant women, townswomen, anchoresses and nuns in an era when women were widely regarded as the weaker of the two sexes. Topics covered typically include the impact of the Norman Conquest on women, queenship, royal daughters, estate and household management, religious devotion, and women at work.
From Richard II to The Wars of the Roses: Politics and Society, 1377-1509 (20 credits)
In this module, you will study the history of England during the fifteenth century, particularly the causes, course and consequences of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. It assesses the crisis of kingship occasioned by the Lancastrian revolution of 1399 and the characters of the men who sat upon the English throne in that period. Political turmoil in England is set against the context of social and cultural change throughout late medieval Europe.
Crimes, Courts and Social Protest in Early Modern England (20 credits)
In this module, you will study the structure and functioning in theory and in practice of the English criminal law and its courts in the early modern period. You will study primary sources associated with pretrial investigation as well as prosecution in court. Popular and elite perceptions of crime are also considered as are examples drawn from popular crime literature. Riot and disorder is also addressed.
The Stuart State: Britain, 1603-1714 (20 credits)
In this module students will study the development of the Stuart State through civil war and revolution, and consider the roles of the Monarchy, Parliament and the Church in seventeenth century politics. Key topics include the reign of Charles I, the causes and impact of the English Civil Wars, the Cromwellian Protectorate and the Restoration. The legacies of civil war will be examined in the formation of political parties and the regime change of 1688-9.
Poverty, Prostitution, Plague: The Problems of English Society, 1600-1800 (20 credits)
In this module students will study the social and cultural history of three powerful ‘problems’ central to life in England, c. 1600-1800. The module examines the history of welfare, sexual cultures, and medicine in a bid to recover the lived experiences of a broad majority of England’s population. Key topics include: early modern mental illness, transgressive sexuality, roguery and counterculture, and the English poor laws.
Monsters and the Monstrous: Further Old English Language and Literature (20 credits)
The focus of this module is Beowulf, which tells the story of a young man from southern Sweden who travels to the hall of the Danish king Hrothgar to fight a monster who has been killing and eating the king’s men. This module questions what it meant in the early medieval world
Nature and Environment in Later Medieval Literature (20 credits)
Europeans in the middle ages were closer to the earth in more ways than one. They lived according to the regular, rhythms of the annual agricultural cycle, and were dependent upon the mercy of the seasons and the bounty of the natural world for their continued survival. In the twenty first century, as the scale of the ecological crisis becomes increasingly apparent, many are considering the ways in which the literature of the middle ages a time when people did not think of ‘nature’ as something distinct from the human can help us to understand our precarious position in the present day. This module will teach you to understand the ways in which nature and the environment appear in the literature of the later middle ages, considering human relationships with landscapes, birds, animals, plantlife, weather, and the elements, over the course of several centuries. We will look at works such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess and The Parlement of Fowles, the works of the ‘Gawain’ poet (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl), William Langland’s Piers Plowman, and other works by unknown authors.
Topics in Renaissance Literature and Culture (20 credits)
This module invites you to take a different approach to the study of literature by focusing on book production and book ownership. It asks questions like, “Who read Shakespeare’s Sonnets anyway?” and “What else did they read?” and sometimes, “Did these readers venture into print themselves?” It looks at writers who courted a bookbuying public and those who preferred the intimacy of circulating their work in hand written manuscripts. Authors frequently studied on this module include Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, and John Donne, but attention will also be given to women writers and to the book collections and writing habits of the ‘not famous.’
Topics in Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s Background (20 credits)
This module aims to encourage you to analyse Shakespearean texts in their historical and cultural contexts. The content of the module will vary according to the ‘topic’ selected for study. For example, the particular focus could be on “Shakespeare’s Afterlives”: responses to and rewritings of Shakespeare's plays by his contemporaries and by later generations. In addition to the plays themselves you will study, among other things, late seventeenth and eighteenthcentury rewritings, the handling of Shakespearean themes in (post)modern novels and Shakespeare in performance (theatre and film).
Britain in the Early Medieval World (20 credits)
In this interdisciplinary module you will draw upon the evidence from archaeology, history, and literature to understand the early medieval period in Britain. In addition to following a chronological narrative from the collapse of the western Roman Empire through to the lateeleventh century, you will explore keys themes including: kingship and state formation, society and religion, settlement and landscape, art and literature, warfare and society, conceptions of the past, and the nature of historical writing.
Satire 1693-1759 (20 credits)
This module brings together a range of rich and rewarding texts which in conjunction one with another should conduce to an appropriately ‘joinedup’ understanding of satire in the period under consideration. At the chronological centre of the period, we have the highwater mark of eighteenthcentury satire, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Around Swift the module arranges a glittering constellation of fellow satirists: John Gay, Henry Fielding, Charlotte Lennox, Samuel Johnson, and – by special invitation – Voltaire (studied in English translation, of course). Most of the time we shall be reading prose rather than verse (which sidelines Alexander Pope); but satire is generically volatile and crosses all of the period’s major literary ‘kinds,’ entwining itself potentially with all forms of artistic production. So the material prescribed for study on this module is remarkably diverse. With that diversity goes a genuine excitement, since the energies of satire are frequently destabilising and work in a dissident direction. This is comedy whose interest is on the dangerous edge of things.
Classical Christian Mysticism (20 credits)
This module aims to enable students to critically assess the development of the Christian mystical tradition. Students will develop their historical and theological skills by studying its origins in the synthesis of Platonist and Christian ideas, its evolution in the patristic period, and its subsequent development and consolidation in the medieval and late medieval periods.
The Christian Reformation (20 credits)
This module aims to foster a critical understanding of the theologies developed by selected theologians during the Christian Reformations of the 1500s. Students will be introduced to the historic religious controversies of the period, plus key church leaders and theologians. Students will consider the processes of continuity and change in Christian life and thought, and practice critical evaluation of different theological positions.