HS1MMO-Medieval Monasteries and the Case of Reading Abbey

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Ruth Salter

Email: r.j.salter@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module is optional for SINGLE HONOURS STUDENTS ONLY.

This module aims to introduce students to one of important socio-cultural aspects of the Middle Ages – Church, and specifically the monasteries. The Catholic Church was of immense power and importance in Western Europe in the Middle Ages and the monastic orders were a key part of this. Within this module we will explore various parts of the monastery and monastic life to build up a picture of these impressive institutions and their place in the medieval world. We will also look at primary materials which relate to our case-study, Reading Abbey; this will allow us to put our study into context. This module also includes tour ‘medieval Reading’ – taking in what remains of the town’s once impressive royal abbey. By the end of the module you should be able to identify various aspects of a medieval monastery and have an understanding of what monastic life was like in a high medieval English monastery.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:
•identify the sources of the topic in question
•trace its historical development
•be aware of differing historiographical interpretations of the pattern and causes of this development
•understand how ideas and events are shaped by their historical contexts
•organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed essays
•demonstrate familiarity with bibliographical conventions and mastery of library skills.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims:
•to encourage students to think independently
•to help students develop good oral and written communication skills
•to develop the effectiveness of students in group situations
•to develop IT skills through the use of relevant resources.

Outline content:
This module is split in two parts: the first half will work on building our knowledge of medieval monasteries more broadly, and the second half will take Reading Abbey as a case-study to put this into the context of Reading’s own monastic foundation. Each week we will look at a different element of medieval monasticism. In the first four weeks we will start with a whistle-stop tour of early monasticism, before going on to look at different monastic orders and the layout of a ‘typical’ monastery in the second seminar. From here we will move on to looking at different parts of the monastery so as to build up a picture of the way that a monastic institution functioned.
In the fifth week we will move on to look at Reading Abbey, starting with an overview of Reading through the medieval period; to the foundation of Reading Abbey; Reading Abbey’s saints’ relics and the abbey as a pilgrimage centre; and finally what happened to the site after the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1538). The second half of the module also includes the tour of ‘medieval Reading’. This trip into Reading will allow us to see what still stands of the town’s medieval churches and abbey, and to see the fragmentary remains of the abbey’s once impressive stonework which is now in Reading Museum.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching is by eight two-hour seminars over one term. Students are reminded to email their tutors for help and advice whenever needed and to note office hours.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16
Tutorials 10
Guided independent study 74
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Written exam50%:
one 1-hour unseen paper requiring 1 answer

Written assignment, including essay50%:
1 essay of c. 2000 words, to be submitted once via Blackboard on Turnitin by latest 12 noon on the Monday of 11th week of each term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    1 hour

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) only in August. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Any element which is re-sat in August is capped at 40%. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Last updated: 22 September 2016

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