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Full time 3 Year(s)
Drawing on modules from across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, particularly the Department of History, the Medieval and Renaissance Studies degree will develop your critical abilities within a vibrant department of like-minded students and expert scholars.
On this course the core first year module is designed to extend and deepen your knowledge of the past and introduce you to major historical topics and themes from the ancient world to the present day. You will gain insights into how historians conduct research and interpret the past and develop your own research, essay-writing and presentational skills.
Many History students choose to take additional, specialised modules on topics ranging from the fall of the Roman Empire to histories of violence and empire in the modern world.
The second part of the degree is mostly taught in collaboration with the Department of English and Creative Writing, the Department of Languages and Cultures and the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion. Drawing on expert advice, you will select modules that allow you to study the history of the period between 300 and 1700 as well as the culture, languages, literature and politics of the time, ranging from Celtic Britain to seventeenth-century Europe.
The Department of History is a thriving centre of historical teaching and research. Our undergraduate programme scored 95% overall satisfaction in the 2016 National Student Survey and our research environment was ranked 100% world leading or internationally excellent in the most recent Research Excellence Framework. The work of our Regional Heritage Centre puts us at the heart of the local historical community and enables us to offer a pioneering range of placements, with partners such as The National Trust, Cumbria County Council and The Duchy of Lancaster.
A Level AAA-AAB
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 36-35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction
Access to HE Diploma 36 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 9 Level 3 credits at Merit to 30 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 credits at Merit
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
An introduction to the discipline, Lancaster’s first-year History core course offers a fascinating survey of the last fifteen-hundred years. The course focuses on pivotal trends and events in European history, but it encompasses regions of wider world as distant as California, India, Japan and the South Pacific.
You’ll become familiar with a wide range of primary sources used by historians in the writing of history. You’ll gain insights into how historians conduct research and interpret the past, and will therefore better understand the reasons for changing historical interpretations.
In the process, by undertaking directed reading, by independent research, by attending lectures, by participating in seminar discussions, by working sometimes in a team, and by writing and receiving constructive feedback on what you have written, you will develop your study techniques and other transferable skills.
The long chronological range and types of history covered by the course will extend your intellectual and historical interests and enable you subsequently to make informed choices from among the many historical options available to you in Part 2, either as a History Major student or as a Minor.
Britain underwent radical change in the early modern period. In 1500 England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland were insignificant nations on the fringe of Europe. Out of the change came the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland', now a world leader on many fronts: for example, democratic government, religious pluralism, a consumer society and cultural achievements that rivalled France in art, science and philosophy.
This module will enable you to explore how groups of people who were not part of the traditional ruling elite came to exercise more power and control over their lives, and thus played their part in shaping modern Britain.
You’ll also develop an understanding of the periodisation of, and differences between, the medieval, the early modern and the modern, and you’ll develop familiarity with recent historiographical approaches to the period, notably those that emphasise underlying commonalities.
Ever since the English historian Edward Gibbon wrote his ground-breaking work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the late eighteenth century, the question of caused the loss of the Empire’s western provinces and the transformation of its eastern half into Byzantium has preoccupied historians. They have identified much relevant data, but they continue to disagree as to what happened to the Empire between the third and the seventh centuries AD and why. For some historians the barbarian invasions of the late fourth and fifth centuries were crucial, but others have argued that they merely finished off a society that was already in deep moral, social and/or economic decline. For some historians the Empire’s ‘decline and fall’ was a disaster; but others have maintained that the Empire never regressed, that the foundations of medieval (and even modern) civilisation were forged in the cultural ferment of the later rather than the earlier Roman Empire, and that the barbarian takeovers in the West made little difference to the lives of those who lived there. An introduction to this exciting period of history, this course invites you to discover what really happened and to assess the theories and interpretations that currently command historians’ support.
What is ‘good’ history, and what is ‘bad’ history? What should historians do in theory, and what do they do in practice? Why, moreover, does history matter? This module offers you the opportunity to think through these fundamental questions, and it invites you to think critically about the nature of the discipline of history – its good practices and its bad practices, its methodologies and different genres, its relation to both past and present, its limitations and its opportunities. The module is organized around a set of broad themes, including history and context; sources and evidence; and history and the public sphere. Each of these themes is explored through carefully selected case studies. The topics covered in these case studies varies from year to year, but their purpose is to sharpen your awareness of the varied nature of the discipline of history and the ways that historians ‘create’ history when designing and writing up their research. To this end, the case studies usually explore the scholarly standards that inform the ways historians research, reference, deploy and assess their evidence and source materials. These case studies are accompanied by weekly introductory lectures that address the broad themes of the module.
HIST251 is designed to make you more aware of the processes you have to follow to define a research topic for yourself, whether an essay question or a dissertation; locate it in its field; test its viability; and scope available sources. To help you prepare for your dissertation, you will construct detailed research proposals; conduct a feasibility study; present your preliminary findings; and respond to feedback from professional historians. It is taught through lectures in the Lent Term; a Dissertation Conference early in the Summer Term; consultation sessions in the Lent and Summer Terms; and Moodle-supported independent learning. The lectures introduce you to the variety of geographical and temporal possibilities for your dissertation; support your engagement with primary and secondary sources; emphasise the significance of titles; and discuss how to hone your research proposals and prepare for the months of independent research ahead. The Dissertation Conference (held over two days) enhances the relevant skills you will need to conduct independent research. Staff offer a range of skills sessions and Third Year students share their experiences of writing a dissertation.
This course offers a new introduction to a formative and exciting period in Mediterranean history after the fall of Rome and the rise of the Arabs. The main focus is on the central Mediterranean, especially Sicily and southern Italy, which was the rich prize for competing empires of the region: the contracting Byzantine empire and the expanding Muslim empire in North Africa. The course covers about 500 years of history through the medium of a range of sources, including archaeological finds, and rare documentary sources, which will be studied in translation.
The period from around 1500 to 1750 saw enormous change. The population of England and Wales nearly doubled, leading to inflation and poverty as well as commercial expansion. Urbanization increased, spectacularly so in the case of London, which grew to become by 1700 the largest capital in Europe. At the same time literacy and education developed and a print culture rapidly expanded. This was a period of religious reformation, which affected not only the lives of individuals but the culture of governance and the fabric of local communities. By the end of the period, England had emerged from being a backwater state to a rising world power, which brought about a new set of cultural and social challenges. Hierarchies of gender and status, however, remained pervasive throughout, and in some ways became even more pronounced. The module examines these central themes during a very important and formative period in English history.
This module introduces you to the most important journeys of exploration to the Americas and the Pacific from 1492 to 1642. You’ll study the journeys of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan to illustrate the ‘mapping of the world’ from the late 1400s to 1642. The module then focuses on the main incursions into American lands during the sixteenth century, including the conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires. These are contextualised within the rise of mixed-race peoples, the role played by missionaries and the development of a colonial urban culture. You’ll also study the first English settlements in North America, the ‘Lost Colony’. The module is taught through lectures and seminars, making extensive use of films and documentaries.
This is a rare opportunity to study a revolution in ideas about the world we live in. It begins in the Renaissance (1500), when blood-letting was a common treatment for diseases, when no-one suspected that the earth moved around the sun, when witches were executed for performing diabolic magic, and when students thought that the best authors on their reading lists had to have died two thousand years ago. The module ends in the early modern period (1700), and with ‘modern’ thinkers like Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. But these people believed, respectively, that new inventions would recreate Paradise on earth, that the laws of billiards proved the existence of God, that the ocean’s tides proved that the earth moved, and that Christianity was a corrupt religion. You will find out why Renaissance men and women believed what they did, discuss how modern the ‘moderns’ really were, and which historians have the best explanation of this exciting period in the history of ideas.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
The course will take us from the closing decades of the Tudor monarchy (1580-1603) to the episodes of power, revolution and restitution that characterised Stuart rule (1603-1688). During this time, English culture saw upheavals in politics that were accompanied by shifts in discourses such as those of gender, religion, sex, science and education. ‘Renaissance to Restoration: English Literature 1580-1688’ will thus examine the literature of change in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for example Spenser’s provocative Elizabethan verse epic The Faerie Queene, the brilliant and edgy theatre of the likes of Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton, and the prose writings of revolutionaries like John Milton and monarchist libertines like Aphra Behn. Our readings will mainly be focused on four topics designed to provide us with ingress into the literature, culture and historical vitality of the period: ‘Love, Sex and Death’, ‘Court, Country, City’, ‘Power and Politics’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’. We will be reading cross-sections from works by many authors to explore these themes from as many angles as possible. We will consider the similarities between a wide range of primary texts but we will also be keen to observe and analyse differences.
This course explores the period known colloquially as the English Civil War and the Interregnum, bounded by the traditionally-accepted dates that allow for a discussion of the causes of war and the final collapse of constitutional experimentation. It will look at the controversies which have whipped up successive generations of historians; at the birth of a republic in England; the role of Scotland and Ireland, the rise of the gutter press, and the birth of modern political campaigning; (in)famous characters such as ‘Freeborn’ John Lilburne and the radical preacher Praise-God Barebones; ask if Oliver Cromwell was a dictator, a king or a saviour; and explore the trial and execution of a king whom many believed was the Lord’s anointed and the fount of all justice.
This module allows you to explore the story of the German Kingdom, from its origins and rise in the ninth and tenth centuries to its descent into civil war in the late eleventh. Formed amid the collapse of the Carolingian Empire, it originated as a cluster of disparate sub-kingdoms. It might well have collapsed under the pressure of the Magyar invasions, yet it emerged triumphant under the leadership of new and vibrant dynasty, the Liudolfings. From their base on the north-eastern frontier they would re-found the kingdom, turning it into the most dynamic state in tenth-century Europe. The vast empire they created—the Holy Roman Empire—would endure until 1804 when it was finally suppressed by Napoleon Buonaparte; but in the mid eleventh century the power of its monarchs was hollowed out by a savage crisis from which the realm would never entirely recover—a devastating civil war that lasted five decades, from the mid-1070s until 1122. This stunning narrative raises many questions. Why did it all go right? Why did it then go so wrong? This dramatic story provides fundamental insights into the nature of the medieval kingdoms, its capacities and its limitations.
Islam is deeply set in world history and the roots of many debates and issues in the modern Middle East can be traced back over a long period. This module provides an introduction to many such questions by offering an overview of the political, cultural, religious and social history of the main Islamic lands of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Syria and Iraq/Iran covering roughly the first five centuries from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the Crusades.
You’ll develop an understanding of the diversity and fluidity of both Muslim identity and the nature and priorities of the early and developing Islamic community, and you’ll also engage with key debate regarding the source material on the period, both literary and artistic.
In particular you’ll explore Islam's place in Late Antiquity; the rise and fall of the caliphal dynasties of the Umayyads and Abbasids; the evolution of political and religious authority; the cultural and political position of non-Arab converts to Islam; the impact of non-Muslim influence on politico-religious debate in Islam, as well as sectarianism and the rise and fall of key dynasties in North Africa, Egypt, Syria and Iraq.
Between 1500 and 1865, Europeans embarked twelve and a half million captive Africans on slave ships for transportation to the Americas, the largest forced trans-oceanic migration in human history. In this module, you will study the slave trade in the context of broader trends in Atlantic history. You will first see how slavery diminished in Europe during the late Middle Ages, just as Europeans began to systematically explore the Atlantic basin. You will then study the rapid expansion of the trade after Columbus’ voyages, as Europeans enslaved increasing numbers of Africans to work in the fields, mines, and ports of the Americas. Focusing on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, you will look closely at how the trade operated, and how Africans experienced their enslavement. You will also study north-west England’s connections to the slave trade by investigating how Liverpool and Lancaster merchants outfitted slave ships and profited by the trade, and the slave trade’ influence on industrialization in Lancashire. In the concluding section of the module, you will see how the slave trade was abolished in the early nineteenth century, and the persistence of a clandestine trade until the end of the American Civil War.
This course explores the problems of founding a new society in the Americas during the earliest years of English adventurism. The course begins, chronologically, with the earliest voyages to the North American mainland, the adventurism of Sir Walter Raleigh and the settlements on Roanoke Island, the relationship with the Powhatan Confederacy, and the Lost Colony. It then moves its attention to the Virginia Company and the settlement of Jamestown, and explores the different experiments by successive governors - John Smith and Sir Thomas Dale in particular - to build an stable and workable community. It looks at the introduction of tobacco and the state of trade and the switch towards a plantation economy and society using slave labour with the concomitant fall of the Company. Finally it explores the problems of proprietary government, and ends with the governorship of Sir William Berkeley and the rebellion by small-scale planters under Nathaniel Bacon.
The Dissertation (HIST300) is a module that progresses from the methodological understandings acquired in Second-Year courses.
You will write a 10,000-word dissertation exploring a challenging historical problem. While, in many cases, we expect that the topic chosen will arise from courses you are studying, it should also be possible to accommodate topics which do not have a direct bearing on your taught courses. The aim is to give you the opportunity to work in depth on a topic of your choice, and to gain the satisfaction of working independently and of making a subject your own. Research for dissertations will usually combine work on secondary literature with the use of primary sources (in translation where necessary). You are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the wider historical context of the subject being explored by including a critical review of relevant published work and to show an awareness of the limitations of primary sources used.
This module presents an unprecedentedly vivid picture of the lived experience of Europeans, Africans and indigenous Americans over a three-million square mile area (Carolina to the Equator; central America to Bermuda) in which Britons settled an area smaller than Yorkshire. Though you are unlikely to have much knowledge of the place or period when you start the module, most students' interests can be accommodated within the sources. You will also have access to a unique collection of (digital) facsimiles of printed and archive sources. You will study the roots of the colonial process but can adopt modern techniques of analysis and presentation such as web-authorship, databases, palaeography (handwriting). You will write traditional essays but also create an individual project, plunging into a fascinating period and place, asking challenging questions of the human experience and learning valuable transferable skills.
The seventh and eighth centuries A.D. were a time of tremendous ferment when the conflict of peoples (the Angles, Saxons, Britons, Irish and Picts), the introduction of Christianity and the partial recovery of Classical learning and knowledge were transforming the social and political landscape of the Britain. You will examine this formative period and its social and cultural conflicts as seen through the eyes of its most prolific writer, the Venerable Bede (673-735). The class will read and discuss several of Bede’s writings, especially his Ecclesiastical History of the English People; but these will also be set in their wider political, social, and cultural context through consideration of the rival perspectives of writers such as Adomnan, Aldhelm and Stephen the Priest.
This module has the following Subject Specific aims:
‘[T]he Gothic’, as Nick Groom argues, ‘was not simply a reaction to the Enlightenment, and the rise of the Gothic novel is part of a longer history’ (Groom, 2012, p.xiv). In coining the term Premodern Gothic, this innovative half-unit considers some of the ways in which a range of generically diverse texts produced in England between c.1450 and 1600 engage with Gothic tropes and sensibilities - e.g. ghosts, vampires, castles, darkness, magic, terror and wonder - before ‘the rise of the Gothic novel’.
At a time when life was viewed as a constant struggle between good and evil within the human soul, how was the inner self conceived? Furthermore, when public life was a type of performance in itself, how did people publicly enact their identities? With an emphasis on close critical readings, this course aims to explore medieval identities by looking at manifestations of self in literature and drama; it will examine and challenge distinctions between public and private, questioning the concept of subjectivity in this period, and focus particularly on moments of personal crisis. As well as considering the role of performance in everyday life and organised drama, you will study the creation of narrative voices and personas in literary texts, and interrogate the interrelationship of text, ‘voice’ and performance. The course also contains a workshop element to develop close reading skills and introduce students to digital humanities study tools for the medieval period.
Despite the title, this module explores a breadth of issues that preoccupied the educated elite of seventeenth-century England. We look at religious, political, intellectual, social and economic and intellectual factors affecting the emergence of the ‘new natural philosophy’ in England. One of the most debated questions in the history of science is whether there was a ‘Scientific Revolution’ in early modern Europe. Mid seventeenth-century England underwent profound change, and makes an ideal test case. The achievements of Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton (“the last magician”) provide intriguing evidence, as do more co-operative ventures such as the founding in 1660 of the Royal Society and the earlier efforts of radical Puritans. Can we connect changes in thinking with the political crises of the English Civil War, The Restoration of the Monarchy, and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688? (We can!) What were the roles of religious conflict and of England’s emergence as a modern capitalist society? (Big!) The course begins with overviews (helpful for those new to the subject) of the developments we will study. It goes on to consider what we might mean by a revolution in thinking, and examines four leading historical explanations. We turn to the influence of Francis Bacon and his New Atlantis, his vision of a pious scientific utopia. We ask whether he inspired Royalists like William Harvey, Cromwellians like Samuel Hartlib and, later, the moderate Fellows of the Royal Society like Robert Boyle. Recent reassessments of Boyle and Newton as alchemists lead us to ask how new was their “new philosophy” or “new science”. Likewise, although The Royal Society is a prestigious institution today, how did it fare when first founded by Charles II, and did it produce useful knowledge and inventions of the kind foreseen by Bacon?
Ben Jonson claimed of Shakespeare ‘he was not of an age but for all time.’ This course examines Shakespearean drama and poetry in its own time: as a platform in which early modern debates about agency and government, family, national identity, were put into play, and in relation to how we perceive these issues now. The stage was and is a place in which issues of gender, class, race, gain immediacy through the bodies and voices of actors. By examining texts from across Shakespeare’s career, we will explore their power to shape thoughts and feelings in their own age and in ours. We will consider Shakespeare’s manipulation of genre (poetry, comedy, history, tragedy and romance) and the ways the texts make active use of language (verse, prose, rhyme, rhythm) and theatrical languages (costume, stage positions) to generate meaning. The course will consider how, in the past and in the present, Shakespeare’s texts exploit the emotional and political possibilities of poetry and drama
The Norman conquests in the central Mediterranean ended Muslim political power in Sicily, formed a single kingdom in 1130, and divided Christian Europe from Muslim Africa. The Norman Sicilian kingship that emerged was like no other in Europe: an absolutist, sacral monarchy that conspicuously made use of the Byzantine, Islamic and Latinate arts as well as the kingdom’s three languages – Latin, Greek and Arabic –in inscriptions and chancery documents. In this unique Special Subject module you will gain a detailed knowledge of the history of Sicily and the south Italian peninsula through the medium of Arabic, Latin and Greek narrative sources and charters. These will be studied in translation. Many have never been published. You will trace the region's complex transition to a unified kingdom after the Norman Conquest, focusing in particular on the subsequent development of authority and society on the island of Sicily in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. You will be engaging with the formative history of the Latin West, as well as the political, religious, economic and social dynamics of the Byzantine and Islamic worlds. The course will provide a detailed introduction to the Norman kingdom for those wishing to delve deeper into one of the most spectacular and unusual kingdoms of pre-modern Europe.
The Vikings inspired both fear and fascination in medieval times, and they continue to exercise a powerful hold on the modern imagination. In this Special Subject you will explore the Viking Age in the Irish Sea region and the Isles. The course ranges from the first Viking raids to the creation of the kingdom of Man and the Isles, a ‘sea-kingdom’ that encompassed numerous islands. The course offers you the chance to develop a sophisticated understanding of textual sources as well as non-textual material. You will gain a grasp of political history, and you will also have the opportunity to study the economy, culture, ethnicity and gender. The field is flourishing, and exciting new finds such as the Silverdale Hoard continue to refresh our understanding of the period. You will have access to plenty of secondary literature, but there is scope for developing original interpretations by studying the primary material. There will be some focus on the prolific evidence from north-west England, including artefacts in local museums and impressive stone monuments. You will participate in two field trips to sites and museums (you should set aside approximately £35.00 for local transport). The local evidence will be set in the broader context of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the North Atlantic.
This module will explore the relationship between witchcraft, heresy and inquisition in regard to the prosecution of the 'otherness', focusing specifically on their literary representation in medieval and Renaissance Europe. Students will engage in the study of the socio-historical events and features of European society from the 14th to the 17th centuries, as well as the literary mechanisms utilised by authors of each one of the texts under study. The course will cover texts and events occurred in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and England. Specific authors, such as Dante Alighieri, François Villon and Miguel de Cervantes, and masterpieces such as 'The Divine Comedy', 'La Celestina', and 'Don Quijote de La Mancha', will be analysed together with genres such as 'Geisslerlieder', balade, and drama. In addition, we will have a special week studying our neighbours, the Lancashire witches, and how the successful trial from 1612 is still perceived all along our city.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Our graduates have a number of career paths open to them, including journalism and publishing, marketing, PR and retail management. Core skills including independent research, critical analysis and effective presentation have enabled recent graduates to gain roles with major employers including Marks & Spencer, Santander, BskyB and Sainsbury’s. The interdisciplinary research methodologies, critical analysis, organisational and writing skills developed over the course of our degrees can lead to career destinations including business, marketing, the media, publishing, the Civil Service and the public sector. Many of our graduates decide to progress to postgraduate studies with us or other institutions, often entering into research and teaching positions.
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