Early Medieval Europe - HI410

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 4 15 (7.5) DR R Gallagher checkmark-circle


Why did the Roman Empire collapse? How did Christianity and Islam become so influential? How violent were the Vikings? When did countries like England, France and Germany come into being? This survey module provides an introduction to the history of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, examining the major political events and social changes that transformed the Roman world and the Near East between c.300 and c.1000. Along the way, we shall consider such topics as identity, warfare, gender, religious life, rulership and law. Students will obtain a clear understanding of the outlines of early medieval history between the later Roman Empire and the sweeping changes of the tenth century, as well as a sense of what daily life was like for most people and of the types of evidence historians can use to understand this period. The weekly lectures guide students through the module and their readings, while seminars provide opportunities to explore key historical problems and debates in more detail through the analysis of primary sources.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

This module will be taught through one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week, with the exception of Enhancement Week and one week that will be dedicated to coursework feedback.


There may be an optional field trip to medieval history sites around Canterbury and Kent. If this trip is run, it will be significantly subsidised by the School of History, but students who would like to attend will be asked to make a small contribution to the costs to secure their place on the trip.

Method of assessment

This module will be assessed by 100% coursework:

- Two essays (2000 words each – each essay is worth 40% of the overall module mark). Through the essays, students learn to research a subject and to formulate and present their own opinions.
- Participation in seminars (20% of the overall mark). The criteria for this mark will be based on the level of engagement with the seminar readings and with one another's responses and opinions displayed in seminars.

Indicative reading

P. Brown (2013). The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, 200–1000, rev. edn. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell
P. Fouracre, ed. (2005). The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume I: c.500–c.700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
G. Halsall (2007). Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376–568. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
B. Rosenwein (2018). A Short History of the Middle Ages, 5th edn. Toronto: University of Toronto Press
J. M. H. Smith (2005) Europe After Rome: A New Cultural History, 500–1000. Oxford: Oxford University Press
C. Wickham (2010). The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000. London: Penguin

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Demonstrate understanding of the broad outlines of key themes in the history of early medieval Europe.
- Demonstrate awareness of the types of sources available, including their strengths and limitations.
- Interpret primary sources.
- Think independently and construct arguments using primary sources.
- Communicate arguments and ideas, both orally and in writing.

The intended generic learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Identify and solve problems while considering critically relevant intellectual concepts and differing historiographical interpretations.
- Engage in independent work, using library resources, and enhance skills in time management, historical research, organisation and analysis of material, oral presentations and essay-writing.
- Engage in group work, in which they will be encouraged to interact effectively with others and to work cooperatively to enhance one another's learning.
- Communicate complex concepts effectively through written work. They will acquire the ability to further develop skills they have already gained, which will be of use to them in future study or occupations.
- Demonstrate communication skills and IT skills.
- Present information creatively and accessibly.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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