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CMRC6016 From Medieval to Renaissance: Reading the Evidence I

Module Overview

For students on the MA in Medieval and Renaissance culture, this module forms the first Part of a two-part core module. This Part (Part 1) is also available as a stand-alone option to students on other Humanities PGT programmes. This module introduces students to different methods, concepts and evidence associated with academic disciplines relevant to the study of medieval and renaissance culture (Archaeology, English, History, Music) and affiliated to the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture (CMRC). A team of specialist teaching staff affiliated to CMRC and from across these disciplines will thereby help students develop interdisciplinary approaches to the medieval and early modern periods through the exploration of broad themes, comprising three chosen by staff (e.g. Kingship and Authority, Marriage, Identity) and a fourth suggested by the students each year, capable of exploration from different disciplinary perspectives. The types of evidence studied will include archaeological and other physical artefacts, landscapes, buildings, visual sources, music, literary texts and historical documents. The module also considers questions of periodization, notably what the terms ‘Medieval’ and ‘Renaissance’ mean and how they originated.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to: • enable you to explore, in an interdisciplinary environment, key aspects of medieval and Renaissance culture and the evidence for them • develop your understanding of the principles and practice of interdisciplinary study in relation the medieval and early modern periods • read, analyse and interpret a wide range of source materials (including texts, sites and artefacts) by asking relevant questions about that material • examine key terms such as ‘medieval’, ‘Renaissance’, ‘Reformation’, ‘early modern’ • supply training in transferable and key skills, appropriate to the subject matter and level • provide you with the knowledge and research skills required to make an informed choice about your dissertation topic, and to help you undertake that dissertation.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a number of important aspects of the culture of medieval and Renaissance Europe
  • the terms ‘medieval’, ‘Renaissance’, ‘Reformation’, ‘early modern’, and how these terms and concepts have been contested
  • why it is useful to study the medieval and the Renaissance periods together
  • contrasting questions posed by different disciplines in relation to a shared topic or piece of evidence
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake a search for secondary literature on a particular topic using a variety of finding aids including web searches
  • construct a bibliography on a specific topic
  • research, locate and evaluate published primary sources
  • use footnotes effectively and correctly in order to cite primary and secondary sources
  • assess and use maps, diagrams, and illustrations in your work
  • communicate a topic you have researched via an oral presentation with supporting illustrations
  • use Powerpoint effectively in support of presentations
  • assess critically the research of others
  • work effectively as a member of a group.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • create, locate, use and correctly reference images and artefacts to support and illustrate research
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse different types of historical evidence relevant to a given topic
  • analyse a range of cultural artefacts relevant to that topic
  • make geo-political comparisons and contrasts with regard to the countries of the British Isles and between those countries and the rest of the world
  • identify the limits and overlap of different disciplines as they engage with a shared topic


This module will provide interdisciplinary training in the methods, concepts and sources for studying the medieval and early modern periods by exploring, from different disciplinary angles, a range of topics, one of which will be proposed by the students. Indicative topics include: identity; kingship and authority; and marriage. We will consider both elite and non-elite culture, and pay particular attention to the performativity of culture in these periods. The staff are all specialists in the medieval and/or early modern periods, but are drawn from different disciplines.

Special Features

The module will be supported by guided visits to local sites of historical, cultural historical, and archaeological interest, e.g. Salisbury.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • weekly team-taught interdisciplinary seminars including research skills training • presentations (individual and group) • individual tutorials, e.g. when preparing assessments and for receiving feedback. • guided field-trips to significant medieval and early modern sites Learning activities include • attendance at research seminars (either those run by CMRC or elsewhere) and public lectures • individual reading and group work in preparation for weekly seminars • guided independent research and study using primary and secondary sources on set topics • preparation of individual and group seminar presentations • participation in seminar discussions • researching and writing the annotated bibliography and assessed essay • preparing for and participating in site visits

Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task60
Wider reading or practice10
Preparation for scheduled sessions38
External visits8
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Robert L Benson and Giles Constable (eds.) (1982). Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century. 

Jacques Le Goff (ed.) (1990). The Medieval World, trans. by Lydia Cochrane. 

Ann Rosalind Jones (2000). Renaissance clothing and the materials of memory. 

Diarmaid MacCulloch (2004). Reformation: Europe’s House Divided, 1490-1700. 

John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan (eds.) (1997). A New History of Early English Drama. 

Jonathan Sawday (1995). The Body Emblazoned : dissection and the human body in Renaissance culture. 

Huizinga, J.J. (1924 and later editions). The waning of the Middle Ages: a study of the forms of life, thought and art in France and the Netherlands in the XIV and XV centuries. 

Ginzburg, Carlo (1992). The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, trans. by John and Anne Tedeschi. 

D.P.Walker (1985). Music, Spirit and Language in the Renaissance, ed. Penelope Gouk,. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Annotated bibliography  (1000 words) 25%
Essay  (3000 words) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

This module will include local site visits (e.g. Salisbury). For students enrolled in the MA in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, these costs are included in your tuition fee. Students on other programmes will incur additional costs, typically for travel and entry, in the region of £20.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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