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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2180 Heretics, Witches and Conspirators: Toleration and Persecution in Early Modern Europe

20 creditsClass Size: 42

Module manager: Dr Raphael Hallett

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The course will examine the way religious and social minorities, particularly those regarded as heretical or socially malign, were perceived, written about and treated in the early modern period. Identities/Communiites discussed will included witches, Jews, Catholic and Protestant sectarians and 'vagabonds'. The course will train students in the close examination of early modern primary sources (theology, politics, court trials, legistlation and philosophy in particular) and also encourage students to trace the intellectual history of concepts and rhetoric associated with the themes of toleration and persecution over 200 years.


At the end of the module students have gained:
- Understanding of Early Modern Elite writing on heresy, witchcraft and social transgression.
- Familiarity with the rhetoric and concerns of Early Modern sermons, theological treatises, political writings and legistlation
- Insight into the popular cultures of toleration and persecution on local, regional and national contexts
- Introduction to the historiography of concepts such as tolerance, persecution, charity, neighbourliness and conversion. Survey and critique of the historiography of early modern culture and religion

Skills outcomes
- Ability to analyse and interpret early modern sources
- Ability to commentate on dominant ideas in early modern elite and popular culture
- Ability to research and use textual, archive and electronic resources relating to the early modern period
- Ability to make connections between rhetoric and ideas from different early modern periods and contexts, making links (and charting differences) between case-studies, time-periods, communities, regions and nations
- Ability to survey, paraphrase and critique the historiography of the early modern period and of the concepts of toleration and persecution in particular.


The course will cover the following topics
- Concepts of Toleration and Persecution
- Early Modern Anti-Semitism
- Witchcraft identity, Accusation and Persecution
- Reformation Heresies: Anti-Catholicism and Protestant dissidents
- Communities and Cultures of Toleration

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours183.00
Total Contact hours17.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Exam preparation; researching, preparing, and writing assignments; undertaking set reading; and self-directed reading around the topic.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions; presentation component; one assessed essay

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words to be handed in by noon on Friday of week 730.00
Oral Presentationoral presentation10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

10% oral presentation is redone with 'an equivalent written exercise'

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2009


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