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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST1310 The Medieval World in Ten Objects

20 creditsClass Size: 128

Module manager: Charles Roe

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Objects are the actual stuff of history. A crystal commissioned for a wronged wife, an African salt-cellar made for Portuguese traders: objects like these speak without need of translation. This module opens up the world of the Middle Ages through things. Exploring themes like religion, technology and identity in societies across the medieval world, it equips students to do history from new angles and places, enriching their ability to make comparisons and envisage differing lives.


The aim of this module is to:
- Introduce students to the attitudes, understandings and activities of the pre-modern medieval world, both within and outside Western Europe, through study of objects and material culture
- Develop contextual knowledge of the times, places and natures of different medieval societies
- Allow students to acquire new skills in understanding and analysing sources

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
1. Critically assess the resources, ideas and events which shaped different pre-modern societies.
2. Evaluate and examine the ways that historians can use material culture and objects as a key to understanding past societies.
3. Critical understanding of the range, value, and challenges of a selection of primary sources including but not limited to material culture and objects.
4. Apply fundamental standards and practices of historical study for research, discussion, and assessed work.

Skills Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:
5. Present structured and coherent analysis based on appropriate and relevant historical sources.
6. Create resources suitable for conveying historical information to a range of audiences.


Using a variety of objects including small-scale items such as coins or jewellry, manuscripts and documents (treated materially), through tools, sculpture or fighting equipment, up to whole buildings (in illustration or even in physical or digital walk-through), this module introduces different societies and periods of the ‘Global’ Middle Ages. Each lecture (after the introduction) focuses on a single object and its supporting historiography. The seminars will encourage further reflection on the object and explore its wider context and significance. The range of objects will differ each year but may engage with the following indicative seminar topics: World Views; Power and Authority; Religious Beliefs and Practices; Warfare and Conflict; Travel; Daily Life, Work and Family.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

There will be a formative exercise, comprised of a 500-word critical review of an existing wiki page on a medieval object. Students will receive full written feedback on this work, in sufficient time for the feedback to be taken into account in students’ work on the group project. Formative feedback will also be provided by tutors through in-class discussion and office hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentWiki project40.00
EssayEssay 1,500 words60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The wiki project will be run in a Teams Class Notebook and groups allowed to choose their own objects, with support from tutors in locating suitable secondary resources. The catalogue portfolio will be entries for a student’s own imaginary exhibition of medieval objects that have not been exhibited before. Resit for the wiki project will be a solo 500-word wiki entry on a different object.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 27/03/2024


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