The Black Death and Transformation of Europe, 1346-1400 - MT875

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 30 (15) DR P Slavin







Having arrived from the East in late 1347, a deadly and mysterious epidemic, whose nature is still uncertain, ravaged Europe for four years, killing about 50 per cent of its already weak population. But apart from killing the population, the Black Death left its profound marks on European economy, society, mentality and art. The course aims at studying the causes, spread, impact and consequences of the plague. Since no historical event, or phenomenon, can be studied separately from its context, the Black Death will be examined in a larger context of the fourteenth-century crisis, comprising population pressure, the Great Famine (1315-21), Cattle Plague (1319-21), anti-Jewish violence, violent warfare and social unrest.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

1 x 2 hour seminar each week

Method of assessment

100% Coursework (1 x 5,000 word essay)

Preliminary reading

• Aberth, John, The Black Death. The Great Mortality of 1348-1350 (Boston, 2005)
• Baillie, Mike, New Light on the Black Death. The Cosmic Connection (Stroud, 2006)
• Benedictow, Ole J., The Black Death. The Complete History (Woodbridge, 2004)
• Cohn, Samuel, The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe (London, 2003)
• Gottfried, Robert S., The Black Death (London, 1983)
• Hatcher, John, Plague, Population, and the English Economy, 1348 - 1530 (London, 1977)
• Horrox, Rosemary, trans. and ed., The Black Death (Manchester, 1994)
• Jordan, William C., The Great Famine (Princeton, 1996)
• Kelly, John, The Great Mortality (London, 2005)
• Nirenberg, David, Communities of Violence (Princeton, 1996)
• Smith, Richard M., 'Demographic Developments in Rural England, 1300-48: A Survey,' in Bruce M.S. Campbell, ed., Before the Black Death: Studies in ‘Crisis’ of the Early Fourteenth Century (Manchester and New York, 1991), pp. 25-78
• Ziegler, Philip, The Black Death (New York, 1969)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

In the course of the module, the students will be exposed to a wide gamut of historiographic problems and interdisciplinary methodologies, related to the study of perhaps the single deadliest pandemic in human history. In addition to discussing and analyzing particular texts and secondary literature, the course will undertake a fieldtrip to a deserted village site and to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives, home to a large number of manorial documents from the Black Death years. The module will have a strong impact on methodological skills of participating students and, as such, it will contribute a great deal to their professional and scholarly development.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.