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Unit information: Everyday Life in Tudor and Stuart England in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Everyday Life in Tudor and Stuart England
Unit code HIST20100
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Hailwood
Open unit status Not open




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


Historians now know that even before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of modernity, English society underwent a series of dramatic transformations: political, religious, economic, social, and cultural upheaval were characteristic of the Tudor and Stuart centuries. This was a dynamic and tumultuous age. But what impact, if any, did these changes have on the everyday lives of ordinary people? How did the alewife, or the agricultural labourer, experience this period of history that is so often approached through the story of its kings and queens? In this unit, we will attempt to find out. To do so, we will need to reflect on how we, as historians, go about trying to recover what day-to-day life was like for people who left few written historical accounts of their own. We will be asking not just 'what was everyday life like?', but also 'how do we find that out?' As well as drawing on the fruits of several decades of social history, we will explore a wide variety of primary sources for ourselves. Examples include ballad songs, records of accidental deaths, diaries, witness statements from court cases, and surviving physical artefacts, images and buildings. We will use these to immerse ourselves in, and investigate, various aspects of everyday life in the period - family life, patterns of work and play, what and how people ate and drank, how they spent and managed their time, and even how their everyday sensory experiences of noise, smell and light differed from our own, and think about how all of these changed over time. We will also reflect on the ways in which class, gender and age shaped these experiences of everyday life. Students will then develop their own research project on whatever aspect of everyday life in the period interests them most.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of how historical change impacted on everyday life in Tudor and Stuart England
2. Demonstrate an awareness of the challenges involved in recovering everyday life in this period
3. Discuss and evaluate the key historiographical debates surrounding the study of everyday life
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 I

Teaching details

1 x 2hr Seminar per week

1 x 1hr Seminar per week

Assessment Details

  • Portfolio Part 1: 750 word primary source analysis [10%] (ILOs 1-3)
  • Portfolio Part 2: 750 word broad question [10%] (ILOs 1-3)
  • 4000 word research project [80%] (ILOs 1-5)

Reading and References

Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost (1965)

Emily Cockayne, Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England, 1600-1770 (2007)

Amanda Flather, Gender and Space in Early Modern England (2007)

Keith Wrightson (ed), A Social History of England, 1500-1750 (2017)

Catherine Richardson and Tara Hamling, A Day at Home in Early Modern England (2017)