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Unit information: The Renaissance and the Rise of the Modern Age in 2020/21

Unit name The Renaissance and the Rise of the Modern Age
Unit code THRS20108
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Balserak
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The Renaissance, and inventions like the printing press, profoundly changed people’s conception of themselves, the world, God, and the purpose of life. This unit explores these changes. It examines how Renaissance ideas helped bring about current (Western) worldviews. Applicability to the present day will regularly be made during lectures and seminars.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the Renaissance and the modern age;
  2. critically assess the intellectual, religious and cultural contexts informing this relationship;
  3. analyse and evaluate competing scholarly perceptions of the renaissance and its relationship to the modern era;
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument;
  5. demonstrate an independent approach to designing, researching and completing a level-I project.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 2000 words portfolio (formative) [ILOs 1-4]

1 x 2500-word summative essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

William J. Bouwsma: The Waning of the Renaissance 1550-1640 (New. Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000).

Mark Peterson, Galileo’s Muse; Renaissance Mathematics and the Arts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

Jacob Burkhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1990).

Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (New York: Doubleday, 1996).