HS3T78-Religion and Politics in the Medieval West, 1050-1492

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Rebecca Rist

Email: r.a.c.rist@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:


Part 3 Options involve the study of specific periods, subjects or types of history.

Part 3 Options involve the study of specific periods, subjects or types of history.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•identify and explain the main issues and events studied
•acquire a detailed knowledge of the events through extensive reading in specialised literature
•locate and assemble information on the subject by independent research
•appraise critically the primary sources and historical interpretations of the subject
•organize material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed essays.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources.

Outline content:
This Option aims to provide students with a thorough grounding in key aspects of medieval history. The module will explore religion and politics in the Medieval West during the High and Late Middle Ages (1050-1492) from both a moral and a real-politik perspective. It will examine religious emotion and devotion in medieval Europe, the growth of the power of the medieval Church, the inevitable clashes which arose between spiritual and secular powers over temporal and spiritual jurisdiction, and the highs and lows of the medieval papacy. The module will include seminars on key topics such as popular lay piety and devotion, the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform movement, the Crusades, the Investiture Contest, the growth of new Religious Orders including the friars, the position of minority groups in medieval society, the controversial pontificates of Innocent III and Boniface VIII, the Avignon Papacy, the Conciliar Movement and the beginnings of the Renaissance Papacy - including the notorious Borgias. Seminars will examine medieval ideas of penance, pilgrimage and crusade, concepts of papal primacy and monarchy, and the rhetoric of religious and political discourse. They will include discussion of important medieval texts in translation including chronicles, sermons, hagiographies, devotional texts and political narratives.

The seminars will explore the following themes:
1. Popular Lay Male and Female Piety and Devotion
2. Gregorian Reform
3. The Crusades
4. The Investiture Contest
5. The Twelfth Century and the Religious Orders
6. Enhancement Week: Film
7. The Church and Minorities
8. The Friars and the Inquisition
9. The Pinnacle of Papal Power: Innocent III and Boniface VIII
10. The Papacy in Exile (Avignon) and the Conciliar Movement
11. The Renaissance Papacy and the Borgias

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars, requiring preparatory reading and investigation, may include informal and interactive presentations by the module teacher; structured group discussion; short seminar papers by students; occasional tutorials; team-based simulation exercises and debates; examination of primary and secondary sources. Students are expected to carry out self-directed revision in the Summer term. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study 169
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

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

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one essay of not more than 2,500 words, to be submitted electronically via Blackboard by 12 noon on the Monday of week 9 of the term. Five marks will be deducted if the coursework essay exceeds 2,625 words (i.e. 5% over the word limit).

Formative assessment methods:
1,000 words or 2 pages of A4 maximum to include, at the module convenor’s discretion, an essay plan, bibliography, book review or other preparatory work towards the summative essay.

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:
    One two-hour paper requiring two answers to be taken at the time of the Part 3 examinations.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Students who fail Part Three are permitted one further attempt at a resit in each module they have failed. Students who fail Part Three will no longer be eligible for an Honours Degree but, assuming the necessary threshold after the resit (normally an overall average of 35% or above) is achieved, students will obtain a Pass Degree. Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) ONLY in August. These will be capped at a maximum mark of 40%. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: 'Purchase of textbooks is not compulsory, but students should consider setting aside £25 per course to cover the purchase of useful books.
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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