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Unit information: History in the Middle Ages in 2018/19

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Unit name History in the Middle Ages
Unit code HIST30101
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Pohl
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit explores the way in which people in the Middle Ages conceptualized the world and their past. Together we will aim to examine different types of historical writing and the different approaches they took in, for example, chronicles, histories, annals, biographies, and gestae (deeds). What were the models for writing history? Did the future have a place in the writing of history? Why did some people write world chronicles and others national chronicles? What was the place of biography? We will explore these and other questions focused on primary material mostly from Western Europe to c.1250.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a broad understanding of the development of historical writing in the Middle Ages
  2. Analyse how and why approaches to the writing of history evolved in the way they did in the Middle Ages
  3. Discuss and evaluate the key historiographical debates surrounding medieval historical thought
  4. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  5. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level H

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour seminar

1 x 1-hour seminar

Assessment Details

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

1 x 2-hour Exam (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, ed. Gerd Althoff, Johannes Fried and Patrick J. Geary (2002)

Michael T. Clanchy, From memory to written record: England 1066-1307 (1993)

Chris Given-Wilson, Chronicles: the writing of history in medieval England (2004)

Antonia Gransden, Historical writing in England: c.550 to c.1307 (1974)

Nancy F. Partner, Serious entertainments: the writing of history in twelfth-century England (1977)

Benjamin Pohl, Dudo of Saint-Quentin's Historia Normannorum: tradition, innovation and memory (2015)