HS3SEK-England without a King, 1649-1660

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Rachel Foxley

Email: r.h.foxley@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Charles I was tried and executed in 1649 after defeat by his own parliament in two civil wars. England was then ruled without a king for eleven turbulent years. This module looks at the challenges facing the republican regimes and Oliver Cromwell, who dominated the period and became Lord Protector; but it also looks at the experience of royalists, of radicals, and of ordinary people living with political instability and attempts at a ‘godly’ reformation.


Specials aim to provide ‘hands-on’ experience of the historian’s task through close examination and evaluation of primary sources and the light they shed on issues and problems.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • recognise and interpret a range of different primary materials

  • undertake detailed textual analysis and comment on the primary materials

  • achieve a detailed command of varying historical interpretations of the primary materials and subject as a whole

  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing under timed conditions

Additional outcomes:

This 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:

The execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649, following his defeat by his own parliament in two civil wars, sent shock waves around Europe. This course will explore the huge challenges faced by England’s new rulers, who needed to invent a new constitution and stabilize a non-monarchical regime in the face of a serious lack of legitimacy and popularity. It will also explore the reactions of the ruled to the succession of novel constitutional arrangements which were put in place, and ask how far the civil wars of the 1640s had prepared people for the ideological and practical implications of living without a monarchy. The challenges of religion, including the novel flourishing of protestant sects outside the national church, will be explored, and the module will consider the nature of the radicalism - both republican and religious - which grew up in different contexts over these years, as well as asking how royalists responded to non-monarchical rule, and why they were not able to challenge the regime more effectively. We will also examine Cromwell's personality, beliefs, and effectiveness as Lord Protector, and the reasons for the collapse of the Protectorate and ultimate return of the Stuart monarchy after Cromwell's death. England’s relations with foreign powers and its conquest of, and attempted union with, Ireland and Scotland may also be covered. Throughout the module we will use a wide range of different types of primary sources, including literary and visual material, and pay attention to political culture and political ideas.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The teaching for this module involves weekly two-hour discussion seminars. Students will gain ‘hands-on’ experience of the historian’s task through the detailed evaluations of key texts, and the light they shed on the issues and problems being investigated. Students will be required to prepare for seminars through reading from both the primary sources and the secondary literature. 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 22 22
Tutorials 2
Guided independent study: 176 178
Total hours by term 198 202
Total hours for module

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:

A two-hour paper involving detailed commentary on extracts from the sources studied.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write two essays (each constituting 30% of the overall mark for the module) to be submitted electronically, the first by 12 noon on the Monday of Week 1 in the spring term, the second by 12 noon on the Wednesday of Week 11 in the spring term. Each essay shall not exceed 3,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography. Essays which exceed the word limit by more than 5% will incur a penalty of five marks. Candidates will be rewarded for making appropriate use of the prescribed texts.

Formative assessment methods:

Formative work, for instance seminar presentations, book reviews, posters, practice source commentaries, will be required for this Special Subject over the two terms.

Practice commentaries on the sources will be required for formative assessment.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener 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[1] (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:

    Re-assessment will be by the same method as the module’s original requirement, subject to variation by the Examination Board where appropriate.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 10 September 2019


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