HIS10080 Rome to Renaissance

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module provides an introduction to European history during the middle ages, from the fall of Rome in the fifth century to the Renaissance of the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The middle ages, once dismissed as a time of stagnation and superstition, is now regarded as an exciting period of ferment, innovation and creativity. The social, political and cultural foundations of modern Europe were established in the middle ages, and the modern era cannot be understood without an awareness of this formative millennium. But equally, the study of the middle ages often means encountering the strange and unfamiliar, and this too is an essential part of being a historian. This course will study the period by focusing on a range of significant events which illustrate some of the most important developments of the period. These include the sack of Rome by barbarians, the influence of the Irish on the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the trial of Joan of Arc, and Columbus's 'discovery' of America. By the end of the trimester not only will you have a grounding in medieval history, society and civilisation, but you will have experience of dealing directly with historical evidence, and evaluating and interpreting it in order to reach conclusions about events and people from the past.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Understand historical developments in Europe in this period.
2. Explain the problems posed by historical evidence in this period.
3. Attempt cogent analysis of historical problems.
4. Comment and write about historical events and people on the basis of contemporary documents.

Indicative Module Content:

This module addresses such topics as: the idea of medieval Europe; the fall of the Roman empire and the legacy of Rome; conversion to Christianity; the barbarian kingdoms; the rise of Islam and the Byzantine world; the Carolingian empire; the crusades; the twelfth-century renaissance; the invasion of Ireland; the Black Death and the Peasants' Revolt; the age of discovery; medieval women and their representation; violence; legitimation of authority; Church and society; attitudes to 'others'.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines large-group and small-group teaching, through a weekly lecture and seminars. Lectures provide overviews of topics, while seminars focus on small-group active/task-based learning using primary sources. Autonomous learning is promoted through required predatory reading each week, and a formative and summative written assignment. Key research, writing and citation skills are explicitly incorporated into seminar work and are assessed and advanced from the formative to the summative assignments. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Participation in Learning Activities: All students will be graded on their informed contribution to class discussion. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12 Graded No


Assignment(Including Essay): A mid-term assignment will assess the students' ability to engage with primary sources, which have been the focus of seminar work in preceding weeks. Week 7 Graded No


Assignment(Including Essay): In the final essay students write on a theme of their choosing from the lectures and seminars, drawing on primary and secondary literature. Week 14 Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the mid-term essay assignment is given in writing on the returned hard copy. Feedback on the end-of-semester essay assignment is given by appointment in one-to-one meetings.