Elizabethan Court and Realm, 1558-1603 - HIST6081

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module aims to study the Court of Queen Elizabeth I as the fulcrum of power and politics in the realm and as a cultural centre. Students will be introduced to the historiography and current interpretations of the political and cultural history of England and Wales in the Elizabethan period. They will analyse a wide range of original primary sources on the workings of the royal household, and on the processes of policy-making by the Queen and the privy council in relation to the government of the kingdom, and be invited to examine critically the evidence for the reputation of the Elizabethan Court as the centre of patronage in the 'English Renaissance' of literature and drama. There will be regular opportunities to discuss research in progress on these subjects.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 60
Private study hours: 540
Total study hours: 600

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 3000 words 8%
Essay 2 3000 words 8%
Essay 3 3000 words 8%
Gobbet Exercise 3000 words 8%
Presentation 15 minutes 8%
Examination 2 x 2 hours 60%

Reassessment methods:
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

D. Starkey, Elizabeth: Apprenticeship (Vintage, 2000)
W. MacCaffrey, Elizabeth I (Arnold, 1993)
M.H. Cole, The Portable Queen: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Ceremony (UMP, 1999)
S. Doran & T. Freeman eds., The Myth of Elizabeth (Palgrave, 2003)
P. Croft ed., Patronage, Culture and Power: the early Cecils 1558-1612 (Yale, 2002)
A. Gajda, The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture (Oxford, 2012)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will have:

1 Acquired a firm grasp of the complex politics, religion and culture of the period.
2 Demonstrated a broad conceptual command of the course, and a thorough and systematic understanding of the latest research.
3 Demonstrated their capacity to assess and critically engage with a wide range of primary sources, both visual and written. These include chronicles (such as Camden's Annals), ambassadorial reports, conciliar memoranda, private letters, debates in the House of Commons, charges at quarter sessions and contemporary publications; groundplans of Elizabethan houses and churches; and engravings and royal portraits.
4 Demonstrated independent learning skills by being able to make use of a wide range of high-level resources, including up-to-date research in peer-reviewed journals, information technology, relevant subject bibliographies and other primary and secondary sources. These include Early English Books online, the Bibliography of British and Irish History, State Papers online, Calendar of State Paperts Domestic, and familiarity with recent articles and reviews of recent books in key periodicals such as The English Historical Review and Historical Journal. They will be deployed in background reading, seminar presentations and essay writing.
5 Acquired the ability to analyse key texts and other materials critically at a high level. The range of primary source material presents challenges: Elizabethan English sometimes needs interpreting; students will learn how to contextualise documents and visual material according to date, provenance and purpose; and they will come to understand, too, the benefits of cross-reference and checking one contemporary source against another, and both against current historiography.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will have:

1 Enhanced their ability to express complex ideas and arguments orally and in writing, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
2 Enhanced communication, presentational skills and information technology skills.
3 Demonstrated independent learning when engaging with the course content, for example in the preparation and presentation of course work, in carrying out independent research, in compiling bibliographies and other lists of research materials, by showing the ability to reflect on their own learning and by mediating complex arguments in both oral and written form.
4 Analysed, discussed, deconstructed and demonstrated cogent understanding of central texts and, subsequently, assembled and presented arguments based on this analysis; by virtue of this process, students will also have gained an appreciation of the uncertainty and ambiguity which surrounds the core themes of this module.
5 Approached problem solving creatively, and formed critical and evaluative judgments about the appropriateness of these approaches.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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