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Unit information: Medieval English Lifestyles (Lecture Response Unit) in 2014/15

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Unit name Medieval English Lifestyles (Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST20028
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Harry
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales famously provides an insight into the prejudices, ambitions, and ways of thinking of English men and women across the social spectrum in the late fourteenth century. Focusing on the two centuries between 1250 and 1450, this Lecture Response Unit seeks to explore the ways in which English society at all levels developed in a period dominated by plague and large-scale warfare. The focus is less on political events than the day-to-day priorities of individuals and groups as they sought to adapt to circumstances that might rapidly and radically alter their way of life. The peasant; the parish priest; the lord and lady of the manor; the monk; the urban tradesman and woman; the merchant; the soldier; the bishop; the king. Thanks to contemporary accounts and the richness of recent work on medieval English social history, we can begin to see the world as they saw it.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a good knowledge and understanding of the social history of Medieval England in the period 1250 - 1450; (2) a deeper understanding of how to approach historical analysis over a longer term period; (3) further developed the ability to analyse and evaluate contemporary accounts as evidence for social history (4) demonstrated the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Details

1 x 3,000 word essay (50%); 1 x 2-hour unseen written exam (50%). Both elements will assess knowledge and understanding of the social history of Medieval England in the period 1250 – 1450.;. Both the essay and the exam (which will comprise essay-style unseen questions) will also require students to demonstrate ILOs (2), (3) and (4) as they analyse, debate, illustrate and argue in their written answers.

Reading and References

  • Bruce M. S. Campbell, Land and People in Late Medieval England (Farnham, 2009).
  • Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain 850-1520 (London, 2003).
  • P. J. P. Goldberg, Medieval England: A Social History, 1250-1550 (London, 2004).
  • Barbara Harvey, Living and Dying in England 1100-1540: The Monastic Experience (Oxford, 1993).
  • Rosemary Horrox and W. Mark Ormrod (eds.), A Social History of England, 1200-1500 (Cambridge, 2006).