The Medieval and Early Modern Studies degree will develop your critical abilities within a vibrant department of like-minded students and scholars.
On this programme, you will work collaboratively with the Department of History and the Department of English and Creative Writing. You will select modules that allow you to study the history of the period between 300 and 1700 as well as the complimentary culture, languages, literature and politics of the time, ranging from Celtic Britain to seventeenth-century Europe.
The core first year History 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, interpret the past, and develop your own research, essay-writing and presentational skills. You will also need to study our English Literature module in your first year.
You will be able to choose additional modules to complement core elements of your study.
Our degree programmes equip graduates with the skills they need to excel in a very wide range of professional careers.
The study of History involves the acquisition of knowledge about different periods and cultures; it involves the acquisition of advanced communication, organisational and leadership skills. Even more fundamentally, though, studying History involves the cultivation of a special kind of critical sensibility: an adeptness at evaluating evidence and arguments made about that evidence.
These are essential abilities across an array of professional sectors, and the career paths of our recent graduates affirm this.
Our graduates go on to successful careers in the museums and heritage sectors, and in education. Others chose to pursue careers in journalism and publishing, the civil service and public sector, marketing and public relations, as well as retail and business management including positions in companies that include Marks & Spencer, Santander, Sainsbury’s and HSBC.
Many of our graduates decide to progress to postgraduate studies with us or other institutions, often entering into research and teaching positions upon completion.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring that you gain a highly reputable degree. We are also dedicated to ensuring that you graduate with relevant life and work-based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award, which offers you the opportunity to complete activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development.
Visit our Employability section for full details.
A Level AAB
If you wish to take more than 30 credits in English Literature modules in Years 2 and 3, it is compulsory to choose English Literature as a minor module in Year 1. English Literature as a minor module in Year 1 requires grade B at A level in English Literature or English Language and Literature, or an equivalent qualification in a literature subject.
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 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction
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 email@example.com
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 to complement your main specialism. 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 please visit our Teaching and Learning section.
The following courses do not offer modules outside of the subject area due to the structured nature of the programmes: Architecture, Law, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Sports and Exercise Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and Biomedical Science.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, and the University will make every reasonable effort to offer modules as advertised. In some cases changes may be necessary and may result in some combinations being unavailable, for example as a result of student feedback, timetabling, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research.
From Ancient to Modern: History and Historians
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.
'Histories of Violence: How Imperialism made the Modern World'
This module is an introduction to the systemic and episodic violence that characterised Imperial British authority during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will begin by exploring recent debates about British imperial history and British identity. Has Britain ignored its imperial past? Should Britain apologise for its Empire and, if so, to whom? Subsequent seminars will look at the ways in which violence was normalised as inevitable and necessary during imperial endeavours. The specific topics for lectures and seminars include slavery, genocide, anthropology, photography, imperial sexualities, rebellions and counter-insurgency. The module will draw on examples and analysis from a range of geographic areas: the Transatlantic, South Asia, Australia, East Africa, North Africa and the Caribbean. The final week will return to Europe’s late-colonial twentieth century and discuss Aimé Césaire’s argument that European fascism represented the return of imperial violence to Europe.
Reform, Rebellion and Reason: Britain, 1500-1800
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.
The Fall of Rome
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 module invites you to discover what really happened and to assess the theories and interpretations that currently command historians’ support.
'Witches', Warriors and Slavers: Exploring the History of Lancaster
This module gives you the opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding of the Lancaster City-Region and the way its history can be understood in a national and international context. You’ll also have the chance to consider how museums and other heritage sites represent the Lancaster City-Region to a non-specialist audience.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn about particular stages in Lancaster's history, and to examine the ambiguities and uncertainties of 'place' as a complex amalgam of history, culture and personal experience. You’ll also be invited to think about how regions and localities form part of wider national and international histories.
Other issues that may be explored include the nature and challenges of public history, specifically the challenges local museums and other heritage centres face in developing and presenting their collections.
Making History: Contexts, Sources and Publics
This module aims to provide you with a solid introduction to the discipline of history at the beginning of your Part-II studies. The module, accordingly, explores the discipline at large, including: its characteristic practices, methods, and traditions; its use of different source materials; and its relation not just to the past, but also to the present and the future. The module includes three thematic blocks. The first section (Contexts of History) provides an overview of different types of historical scholarship, focusing on the methods, theories and intellectual tendencies that characterise them. The second section (Sources and Evidence) examines the use and application of different types of sources as evidence in historical research. The third section (History in Public) considers the public role and function of the discipline, as well as the challenges that historians have faced in the public spotlight, and, finally, the role that the study of history can play in your future.
Writing History: Questions, Methods, Conclusions
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.
A Global History of the Mind, 1000-2020
This course invites you to explore the history of an object that is of crucial importance to our ideas about both human health, and human identity – the mind. A Global History of the Mind will give you the opportunity to explore how societies across a wide range of time and places have sought to understand, cure, and control the mind. Drawing on materials and case studies from around from world, whether modern-day Polynesia or the medieval Middle East, this offers a truly global perspective on the history of the mind.
At the same time, the course encourages you to explore the connections between changing ideas about mental health and sickness to broader questions about human identity – most notably those concerning race, gender, and the potential loss of human distinctiveness in a world where artificial intelligence is possible. Unlike traditional courses on mental health, which almost invariably focus on the emergence and spread of western psychiatry, this course offers a decentered perspective. We will examine the mind from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, bringing together philosophy, medicine, religion, race, gender, and social control. In so doing, we will explore questions of urgent relevance to our own society – most notably the ways in which ideas about the mind have featured in the racialization and gendering of people through systems of patriarchy and colonialism. In addition, this course will use case studies from history to give you the resources to consider and question modern ideas about the mind and its role in society.
Finally, this course draws on an innovative series of podcasts entitled Metaphors of the Mind (https://cargocollective.com/mind-metaphors). As well as writing and a research project, this course will help you develop the skills to put together your own podcast on the history of the mind.
Byzantine and Muslim Sicily (535-1072)
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.
Culture and Society in England, 1500-1750
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.
Europe and the World, 1450-1650: Bodies, Cultures, and Environments
During the 16th century, Europe witnessed some of the most important developments in the shaping of the modern world. Although you will learn about these events, the module will focus on the broader historical processes through which you can understand them. At the same time, you will engage with the methodologies and debates that historians of the present-day find most interesting, critically appraising their strategies for assessing patterns of historical change and continuity.
You will therefore examine the work of environmental historians, asking whether transformations in society and the economy can be explained by changes in climate. The module will also ask whether colonial expansion led people to develop new ideas about racial and cultural difference, while at the same time trying to understand how newly colonized people tried to navigate their way through new hierarchies and relationships.
In addition, it will ask whether long-standing questions about transformations in religious life, popular culture, and the centralization of government can be enriched by approaching them through the prism of new approaches. When you study the body, health, and disease, for instance, you’ll discuss the unexpected role of medical expertise in the development of a renewed form of Catholicism at the end of the 16th century. Meanwhile, focusing on the history of printed news may enable you to understand why rumours and religious bigotry spread so rapidly during the Reformation and Wars of Religion.
Late Medieval to Early Modern Literature
Course Aims and Objectives
Designed to take up and develop Part One’s engagement with pre-1700 texts, this course will take us from the late medieval period’s interest in spiritual and earthly travel to the episodes of power, revolution and restitution that characterised Stuart rule (1603-1688). During this time, English culture saw upheavals in religion that were accompanied by shifts in discourses of (among others) politics, sex, science and education. Late Medieval to Early Modern Literature will examine the literature of change from the late fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, from John Mandeville’s and Margery Kempe’s marvellous journeys through Europe, Northern Africa, Asia and the Holy Land, to the brilliant and edgy theatre of Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson, and the writings of revolutionaries such as John Milton and monarchist libertines like Aphra Behn.
Our readings will mainly be focused on topics designed to provide us with ingress into the literature, culture and historical vitality of the period. To this end, the texts are gathered under four headings: ‘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 continuities across a range of different primary texts, but we will also be keen to observe and analyse differences.
Norman England, 1066- 1154: Conquest, Colonisation and Conflict
The social and cultural consequences of the Norman Conquest of England were deep and enduring. A foreign, Francophone regime displaced the native élites: many of the former rulers,?women as well as men, fled the kingdom. Enlisting in the Varangian Guard, some Englishmen even went as far as Byzantium and the Crimea. The new regime was inclusive in so far as it was?eager to recruit foreigners of all kinds—Frenchmen, Bretons, Lotharingians, Italians, Spaniards, and even Jews—as long as they were serviceable and loyal; but racist in so far as it strove to?deny persons of English descent access to high office. The English were denigrated as barbarians and peasants, but because the Conquest was not followed by sustained settlement from?the Continent, many natives clung on in sub-altern positions, just below the foreigners who held the highest offices and the best estates. The English were also far from being the only?victims: the regime also continued the later Anglo-Saxon state’s efforts to subjugate Wales and northern Britain. A wide-ranging introduction to the history of Norman England and the debates that it has inspired, this course allows you to consider the history and effects of this transformative event.
On the Edge of Empire: Being Roman in Britain
What does it mean to be Roman on the edge of the Roman Empire? How can we write the history of people who have left very little written trace of themselves? This module explores these questions through an in-depth look at the history from the 1st century BCE to the 5th century CE of a single Roman province: Britain. You will learn to use a wide range of evidence, including not only Roman historians like Tacitus, but also archaeological evidence, stone inscriptions, and wooden documents like the Vindolanda Tablets, to reconstruct the nature of Romano-British society. How can we use pottery evidence to reconstruct Britain’s economic connections to the continent? How can Iron Age coins give us insight into the political machinations that led to Britain’s 1st century CE conquest by the Romans? Broader topics will include the effects of Roman imperialism on conquered peoples, the place of migration and ethnic diversity in Roman Britain, and the role historical trends such as post-colonialism and globalization have played in our understanding of life in the Roman provinces. The module may also include field trips to Roman sites and museum collections.
Slavery & Freedom: North America, 1620-1800
In this module, you will explore the simultaneous rise of slavery and freedom in North America between 1620 and 1800. You will first examine the colonization of Massachusetts by Puritan migrants, and see how their liberty was constrained by gender relations, market dependency, and religious orthodoxy. Viewing the southern colonies in comparative perspective, you will explore the reasons why tobacco and rice planters transitioned from employing white indentured servants to enslaving Africans, and the racial codes that they developed to justify their decisions. You will understand how slave-holding American colonists could espouse discourses of liberty during the American Revolution, and the differing outcomes of the Revolution for Patriots, Loyalists, enslaved people, and Native Americans. You will conclude by studying the rapid expansion of slavery into the Deep South and the settlement of the trans-Appalachian frontier by free settlers after the Revolution. You will thus see how the United States—the “Empire of Liberty”—was forged in both slavery and freedom, creating a divided nation at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The English Civil War (1640-1660)
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.
The Making of Germany, 843-1122
This module allows you to explore the story of the German Kingdom from the mid-ninth century until the early twelfth. Formed amid the collapse of the Carolingian Empire, it came close to collapse in the early tenth century, yet it was saved by the Magyar crisis, emerging triumphant under the leadership of a new and charismatic dynasty, the Liudolfings. They refounded the kingdom, turning it into the most dynamic state in tenth-century Europe. The vast empire they created - the so-called ‘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 kingdom, its capacities and its limitations.
The Origins and Rise of Islam (600-1250 AD)
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.
The Roman Empire: Society and Culture in the Mediterranean and Beyond
The Roman Empire stretched from Britain to modern-day Syria, from Morocco to Romania. How did Rome control an empire which ranged from the societies of the Mediterranean basin to those of Arabia and temperate northern Europe? How did the peoples of these regions adapt to, or indeed resist, ‘becoming Roman’? This module will give you a thorough foundation in the history of the Roman Empire from the first emperor Augustus in the first century BCE to late antiquity and the rise of Christianity in the 4th century CE. You will study the immense social, economic, and religious changes that occurred across Europe and the Near East in this period, as well as the political and military history of the Empire. You will confront the challenges of writing Roman history from textual sources that are often fragmentary, or have political and rhetorical agenda which are alien to us today. You will also learn to integrate material evidence, from coins and inscriptions to archaeology, into your understanding of the Roman Empire.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, 1500-1865
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.
Virginia, (1585-1685): adventure, war and tobacco in the first American colony
This course explores the problems of founding a new society in the Americas during the earliest years of English adventurism. Virginia was the founding point of the presence of English people in North America; and the first Africans in English-speaking America. 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 and Chesapeake, 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 a stable and workable community. It looks at the introduction of tobacco, the switch towards a plantation economy and society using slave labour, and the fall of the Company. Finally, it explores the problems of proprietary government, and ends with the governorship of Sir William Berkeley and the rebellion for ‘liberty’ under Nathaniel Bacon, which marked the enslavement of indigenes and Africans.
The Dissertation 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.
'A World Full of Gods': Lived Religion in the Roman Empire
The gods are encountered at every turn in the Roman Empire, but seldom in the same way or in the same places. This module explores the immense diversity of religious experience, practice, and belief in the Roman world in order to understand religion’s role in the shaping of society and identity across the Empire. You will learn to use a broad range of archaeological, epigraphic, iconographic and literary evidence to reconstruct the lived experience of religion in the Roman Empire, from gods worshiped by German soldiers on the rain-swept Romano-British frontier, to domestic shrines in the kitchens of Pompeii, to the great Greco-Roman pilgrimage sanctuaries of Asia Minor. How can we use site plans to think about the experience of moving through a sanctuary? How do animal bones and pottery assemblages allow us to reconstruct the dynamics of religious sacrifice and ritual feasting? What insights do first-person accounts of encountering gods through dreams and visions by authors such as Aelius Aristides or Cicero give into personal relationships with the divine? Through detailed analysis of primary material and in-depth engagement with modern scholarship on Roman religion, we will explore the complex role played by divine cults, sacred spaces, and religious identities in the construction of society across the vast geographic and chronological span of the Empire. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a field trip to sites and museums on Hadrian's Wall, to experience a range of temple locations and material evidence for Roman religion in person.
Anarchy and society in the Caribbean, c.1620-c.1720
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, though students who have taken The English Civil War and Virginia will have encountered some of the issues. The course is popular with History Majors and also has resonances with Politics and with English Literature. The interests of each year’s students can be accommodated. 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 tailored in consultation with the tutor to fit your research interests, way of working, opportunity to showcase or learn new skills, and ways of presentation. You will be plunging into a fascinating period and place, asking challenging questions of the human experience and learning valuable transferable skills.
From Rebellion to Revolution: The War for the Throne, 1199-1265
The thirteenth century began with a rebellion that sought to cast a tyrant from the throne of England, followed after fifty years by a revolution, in which a party of barons and bishops backed by a vast popular following seized power from the king and set up a council to govern in his stead: a move that was utterly radical. This period has been hailed as the foundation of the enlightened democracy we enjoy today – but the reality is far darker. This was a world in which religious leaders had the power to punish kings, where rebels fought as sworn crusaders, and where people willingly went to their deaths for a political cause believing themselves martyrs. This world was not democratic, but theocratic.
In this module you will explore the major events of the period, in England and across Christendom, from the making of Magna Carta and the Fourth Lateran Council, to the Albigensian Crusade, the seizure of power in 1258, and the bloody Battle of Evesham that brought the end of England's First Revolution. You will meet the people who shaped this world – from powerful queens like Blanche of Castile and Eleanor of Provence, to leading knight William Marshal and the masterful pope Innocent III, from tyrannical and hapless kings to the churchmen who defied them and were recognised as saints, and from Simon de Montfort, the revolution's charismatic and brutal leader, to the low-born men and women who flocked to his banner. You will be able to uncover their stories through their letters, testimonies, and eye-witness accounts, and a wealth of other primary sources.
Through a range of topics, you will be able to explore your particular interests – whether in the religious, military, political or social aspects of this period – and consider the big questions arising from this course: what can move women and men, poor and rich, to risk their livelihoods, to take life and give their own to decide who ruled the realm?
Medieval Theatre: Drama Before Shakespeare
Course Aims and Objectives:
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? And how did those private and public identities function in such a rigidly hierarchical society? 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 consider moments of personal crisis. As well as looking at the role of performance in everyday life and organised drama, we will study the creation of narrative voices and personas in literary texts, and interrogate the interrelationship of text, ‘voice’ and performance. The course also sets aside seminar time to develop close reading skills and build familiarity with Middle English language.
Paradise Lost- Colonization and the Jamaican Environment, 1655-1838
When Europeans first landed in Jamaica, they thought that they had arrived in paradise: a sun-kissed tropical island covered with virgin rainforests, dramatic mountains, and exotic flora and fauna. By the early nineteenth century, colonization had fundamentally transformed this supposedly pristine island. This module explores how this process occurred. You will study the numerous ways that colonists exploited the Jamaican environment: the clear-cutting of forests to make way for monoculture plantations; the importation of plants and animals to replace decimated native species; and the extraction and exhaustion of natural resources. You will simultaneously examine enslaved Africans' and Native Americans' environmental perspectives and see how both groups used Jamaica’s mountains and surviving forests to resist the violent process of colonization. We will conclude by examining the colonists’ growing awareness that they had transformed Jamaica’s climate and natural world, just as the island’s economy was fundamentally changed through emancipation. You will thus emerge from this module with a detailed understanding of the natural history of Jamaica—one of the most fascinating places in the Early Modern Atlantic World—and the exciting field of environmental history more broadly.
Performing Death, Desire and Gender
How are acts of desire, murder, fake and ‘real’ deaths represented on stage in early modern drama and how are these experiences gendered? The module will explore the construction and deconstruction of death, desire and genders by focusing on performance. The performativity of gender, on stage and beyond, was materialised in the theatres of early modern England where boys played female roles, representing female desire, and often same-sex desire, at the same time. Modern films and productions of early modern plays create similar (and different) gender-effects. We will study texts by Marlowe, Middleton, Heywood, Webster, Wroth using a mixture of discussion, analysis of films / productions and short practical explorations (such as getting the text ‘on its feet’). The module will ask when and how can death be comic in performance? Does outlawed desire always lead to tragedy? How did drama help to shape human experiences of desire and violence? No previous experience of (or expertise in) acting is necessary but you will be required to think in terms of performance because the module will culminate in a series of short presentations and performances by the group.
‘[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’.
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 questions 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 East India Company: Merchant State, 1600-1857
The English East India Company (founded 1600) was the most famous corporation in world history: its business connecting the British Isles across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. It was a protagonist of globalisation. Its longevity - from Elizabeth to Victoria - provides a common thread with which to illuminate the broader English/British story and the separate histories of the territories with which the Company engaged. Historians have debated what the Company represented. It did much to stimulate global trade, but was it a private business in the modern sense? It ruled British territory on behalf of the British state, but was it a state in its own right? This course encourages you to engage with these (and other) large and important questions and digest the high-quality literature that the Company has rightly attracted. But the core of this class will be the challenge and joy of digesting the remarkable corpus of documents and writings that the Company issued or provoked from well-known political economists like Karl Marx and Adam Smith, to managers like Elizabeth Dalyson and non-European writers such as Mirza Abu Taleb Khan. You will be introduced to translated Persian documents, the correspondence of Company factors in Japan, charters, board room minutes, pamphlets, and histories and will explore art and architecture in the cities it did so much to develop. You will gain a broad understanding of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century British, Indian, and global history; and develop expertise in cultural, art, political, parliamentary, global, economic, constitutional, gender, and business history.
The Normans in Italy (1050-1194)
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.
Vikings and Sea-Kings: Power and Plunder in the Irish Sea Region, 794-1079
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 Galloway Hoard continue to refresh our understanding of the period. You will have access to plenty of secondary literature, and 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 may have the chance to participate in a field trip to a site or museum (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.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2023/24 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2022/23 were:
Scholarships and bursaries
At Lancaster, we believe that funding concerns should not stop any student with the talent to thrive.
We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover the cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small college membership fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2022, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2023 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Study abroad courses
In addition to travel and accommodation costs, while you are studying abroad, you will need to have a passport and, depending on the country, there may be other costs such as travel documents (e.g. VISA or work permit) and any tests and vaccines that are required at the time of travel. Some countries may require proof of funds.
Placement and industry year courses
In addition to possible commuting costs during your placement, you may need to buy clothing that is suitable for your workplace and you may have accommodation costs. Depending on the employer and your job, you may have other costs such as copies of personal documents required by your employer for example.
Fees in subsequent years
Fees are set by the UK Government annually, and subsequent years' fees may be subject to increases. For international applicants starting in 2022, any annual increase will be capped at 4% of the previous year's fee.
- Chinese Studies and History BA Hons : T1V1
- English Literature and History BA Hons : QV31
- English Literature and History (Placement Year) BA Hons : QV32
- French Studies and History BA Hons : RV11
- German Studies and History BA Hons : RV21
- History BA Hons : V100
- History (Placement Year) BA Hons : V101
- History (Study Abroad) BA Hons : V103
- History and International Relations BA Hons : VL12
- History and International Relations (Placement Year) BA Hons : VL13
- History and International Relations (Study Abroad) BA Hons : VL14
- History and Philosophy BA Hons : VVC5
- History and Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : VVC6
- History and Philosophy (Study Abroad) BA Hons : VVC7
- History and Politics BA Hons : LV21
- History and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : LV22
- History and Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : LV23
- History, Philosophy and Politics BA Hons : V0L0
- History, Philosophy and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : V0L1
- History, Philosophy and Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : V0L2
- Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Placement Year) BA Hons : V126
- Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Study Abroad) BA Hons : V127
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.