HS2O52-Family and Power in Medieval France

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Matthew
Email: e.a.e.matthew@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The twelfth and thirteenth centuries saw major changes to the way that France was governed. Over the period in question, the French kings began to firmly establish authority over the previously fragmented kingdom and its aristocracy. Students will explore this process from the point of view of the aristocratic men and women who tried to negotiate their position and power in the face of the increasingly powerful French king. By exploring key rebellions, marriages and the sources the families have left behind, we will assess how the aristocracy reacted to the broad changes to the government of France in this period and how far aristocratic families saw their role changed in the process.


Part 2 Options can be either chronological or thematic. Chronological Options will usually take the form of a survey of a particular geographical area or nation over a defined period of one or two centuries. These Options aim to acquaint students with the causes and consequences of continuity and change over the long term in the political, social, economic and cultural systems under study. Thematic Options take key concepts, ideas, or debates in history and study them in a number of different contexts, either geographically or across historical periods. The aim again is to acquaint students with the causes of continuity and change, but this time by a more comparative approach.

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

  • appraise critically the primary sources and historiographical interpretations of the subject

  • think comparatively about aspects of African, American, British, European, Middle Eastern and South Asian history over a substantial period

  • assess the nature of social, economic, political and cultural change and the particular methodologies associated with tracing it

  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively in different kinds of written exercises and orally

  • locate and assemble bibliographic and other information by independent research, using IT as appropriate

Additional outcomes:

The module aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations and team-working. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources and databases, where appropriate.

Outline content:

This module will consider the transformation of France from a set of semi-independent princedoms into the beginnings of a centralised ‘state’. Students will analyse this process and its impact on the aristocracy through a range of primary sources including chronicles, household accounts, letters, records of parlement, marriage contracts and art. Students will also have the chance to research individual families and track the changes in their circumstances across the period in ques tion. Bringing all of this information together, students will study and assess the very live debate concerning the role of the aristocracy in the making of France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 

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, as appropriate. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20 1
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 40
    Wider reading (directed) 40
    Advance preparation for classes 10
    Preparation for presentations 3
    Revision and preparation 35
    Essay preparation 30
    Reflection 10
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

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

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One two-hour paper requiring two answers to be taken at the time of the Part 2 examinations.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write ONE essay of 2,500 words, to be handed in by 12 noon on the Monday of week 11 of term, which should be submitted electronically via Blackboard. Five marks will be deducted if the coursework essay exceeds 2,625 words (ie 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 Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that 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.

Assessment 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 third 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: 15 July 2021


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