HS1MER-Merlin the Magician

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Level:4
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Anne Lawrence

Email: a.e.mathers-lawrence@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

This module is optional for SINGLE HONOURS STUDENTS ONLY.

Aims:
The figure of Merlin the Magician has remained familiar from the twelfth century until the present day, especially in the Anglophone world. However, academic attention has focused on just two issues: the early origins of Merlin; and his role in literature. This Option takes a historical view of Merlin, and begins with the churchman and chronicler (and probable fraudster) who revealed Merlin to twelfth-century Europe – Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey wrote a History of the Kings of Britain in England during a period of major political tension, and the book was first read during the nineteen-year civil war which followed the death of King Henry I. In this book Merlin is a prophet rather than simply a magician, and his prophetic powers were fundamental to his growing reputation. This medieval Merlin was also a learned scientist, whose skills included astrology and an early version of alchemy, and this Option will explore his full range of knowledge, and what it reveals about medieval culture and society. We shall also follow the process by which this powerful prophet was revealed in the sixteenth century to be part of one of the greatest frauds in British history – and what effect this revelation had

Assessable learning 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:
The figure of Merlin the Magician has remained familiar from the twelfth century until the present day, especially in the Anglophone world. However, academic attention has focused on just two issues: the early origins of Merlin; and his role in literature. This Option takes a historical view of Merlin, and begins with the churchman and chronicler (and probable fraudster) who revealed Merlin to twelfth-century Europe – Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey wrote a History of the Kings of Britain in England during a period of major political tension, and the book was first read during the nineteen-year civil war which followed the death of King Henry I. In this book Merlin is a prophet rather than simply a magician, and his prophetic powers were fundamental to his growing reputation. This medieval Merlin was also a learned scientist, whose skills included astrology and an early version of alchemy, and this Option will explore his full range of knowledge, and what it reveals about medieval culture and society. We shall also follow the process by which this powerful prophet was revealed in the sixteenth century to be part of one of the greatest frauds in British history – and what effect this revelation had.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16
Tutorials 10
Placement 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 exam 50%:
one 1-hour unseen paper requiring 1 answer

Written assignment, including essay 50%:
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: 20 October 2016

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