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Unit information: The Early Modern World in 2018/19

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Unit name The Early Modern World
Unit code HIST10043
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jones
Open unit status Open




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


This unit is designed to introduce students to some key movements and concepts in early modern European history. This was a period of fundamental change, when the shape and structure of the major European states and the lives of their peoples were radically transformed. In the fifteenth century the majority of western Europeans were Catholic Christians who were ruled by a personal monarchy and inhabited rural areas increasingly destabilised by demographic crises. By the end of the sixteenth century, populations had rebounded, the western Church had split, government had become more centralised and Europe had developed trading networks that encompassed the globe. These changes, which were accompanied by the great cultural developments brought about by the Renaissance and the printing press, make this one of the most enduringly fascinating periods in Europe’s history.


  • to introduce early modern history
  • to gain an awareness of the main issues at stake in undertaking historical analysis in the period
  • to provide an opportunity for students to discuss issues in early modern history and to work on texts in a small-group context

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Identify and analyse key themes and issues in early modern history.
  2. Discuss and evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the period and a range of topics
  3. Interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  4. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level C

Teaching details

2 x 1 hour lectures
1 x 1 hour workshop
1 x 1 hour seminar

Assessment Details

One 1500 word essay (50%) (ILOs 1-4)
One 1500 word essay (50%) (ILOs 1-4)

Reading and References

Richard Bonney, The European Dynastic States, 1494-1660 (Oxford, 1991)

Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2006)

Euan Cameron, The Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2006)

Patrick Collinson, The Reformation (London, 2005)

Beat Kümin (ed.), The European World: An Introduction to Early Modern History (London, 2009).