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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST1060 Faith, Knowledge and Power, 1500-1750

20 creditsClass Size: 128

Module manager: Professor Stephen Alford

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to some of the central issues in the study of early modern history. In the period between 1500 and 1750, Europe was transformed by the fragmentation of Western Christianity, an information and media revolution fuelled by the spread of literacy and printing, and changing socio-economic structures which fundamentally reshaped everyday lives and the relationship between rulers and ruled. Encounters and interactions with non-European societies will be studied to reveal how Europe was becoming part of a global economy and society.


The module aims to:
- assess the nature and impact of religious reform on different geographical contexts;
- explore diverse traditions, cultures and transformations of knowledge in the period;
- evaluate political, economic, social and cultural change for the framework of life and the structure of society;
- analyse the relationship between Europe and the wider world in this period.

Students will be introduced to the diverse range of primary sources which are available for the study of early modern history, facilitating engagement with the ideas and beliefs of people living at this time.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
1. Assess critically the key themes in the history of early modern Europe
2. Effectively Evaluate a variety of historiographical perspectives on the period
3. Apply judiciously discursive and analytical skills
4. Analyse and apply skills of historiographical survey

Skills Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:
5. Evaluate and contextualise a range of early modern European primary sources
6. Research and write coherently about an aspect of the past


The module will trace a path from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the middle of the eighteenth century, through three main themes: religious conflict and controversy; order and disorder in early modern society; and cultural change.

Within these themes, topics of study may include: Protestantism, Catholicism, and other global religions; Crime, deviance, and the law; Race; Households, families and gender; Commerce, consumption and cultural exchange; Early modern communications; Science and medicine.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

This module will include one formative assignment, which takes the form of a blog post on a primary source, for which written feedback will be provided to help students prepare the primary source commentaries. These source exercises help develop students’ skills of primary source analysis, which can then be used alongside historiographical and contextual analysis in the final assessment (OTLA). Students will also be monitored throughout the course on class participation and in office hours throughout the duration of the module teaching.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayThis 1500-word essay takes the form of a commentary on a primary source.40.00
Online AssessmentOTLA Students answer two questions60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 27/03/2024


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