Europe Transformed: 1450-1750

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 01 July 2022
31 March 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA VV31 Art History and History,
BA VV32 Art History and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV38 Art History and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV3B Art History and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV3C Art History and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA R000 European Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA R001 European Studies,
BA R002 European Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA R008 European Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R1 European Studies with French,
BA R9R8 European Studies with French (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R2 European Studies with German,
BA R9R6 European Studies with German (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R3 European Studies with Italian,
BA R9R7 European Studies with Italian (Including Foundation Year),
BA V100 History,
BA V101 History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V102 History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V103 History (Including Placement Year),
MHISV199 History,
MHISZV98 History (Including Placement Year),
MHISZV99 History (Including Year Abroad),
BA MV91 History and Criminology,
BA MV92 History and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA MV98 History and Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA MV9C History and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV11 History and Economics,
BA LV18 History and Economics (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1L1 History and Economics (Including Placement Year),
BA VL11 History and Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BA QV21 History and Literature,
BA QV22 History and Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA QV2C History and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA VQ12 History and Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV31 History and Sociology,
BA LV32 History and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA LV38 History and Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV3C History and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA V1W6 History with Film Studies,
BA V1W7 History with Film Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA V1W8 History with Film Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1WP History with Film Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV15 Philosophy and History,
BA VV16 Philosophy and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV51 Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV5C Philosophy and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV5X Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA V309 Curating with History,
BA V310 Curating with History (including Foundation Year),
BA V311 Curating with History (including Placement Year),
BA V312 Curating with History (including Year Abroad),
BA V200 History and Heritage,
BA V201 History and Heritage (including Foundation Year),
BA V202 History and Heritage (including Placement Year),
BA V203 History and Heritage (including Year Abroad),
BA VM10 History and Law,
BA VM11 History and Law (including Foundation Year),
BA VM12 History and Law (including Placement Year),
BA VM13 History and Law (including Year Abroad),
BA V114 History and Drama,
BA V115 History and Drama (including Foundation Year),
BA V116 History and Drama (including Placement Year),
BA V117 History and Drama (including Year Abroad),
LLB M1V1 Law with History,
LLB M1V2 Law with History (Including Foundation Year),
LLB M1V3 Law with History (Including Placement Year),
LLB M1V4 Law with History (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module focuses on the time that historians call `the early modern period`, a span of around 250 years, which is often depicted as the watershed between the `medieval` and `the modern`. This period saw momentous changes such as the Reformation which divided European religion, new contact between Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and the birth of colonialism. You will find some elements of this period strikingly different, while in other aspects, you will find it surprisingly familiar.

The overarching questions that we will seek to answer are:

- What exactly was changing in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe – political systems, social structures, cultural horizons? – and why?

- How did different individuals, social groups, or particular communities and regions experience these changes?

- To what degree did continuity as opposed to change play an important role in shaping the early modern world?

In order to answer these questions we will explore how people across Europe, and beyond, experienced the changes across this period by examining themes including: European expansion and conquest in the Americas; religious and cultural change, including the Reformation; the issue of state-building across Europe (including the British Isles) as well as the Ottoman Empire; social order and social change, including gender and the issue of poverty; and challenges to order, including rebellion, warfare and witchcraft.

Module aims

This module aims to:

1. Introduce the broad chronology and key themes of the history of the early modern period, as a foundation for modules in subsequent years of study.
2. Explain how historians make sense of the past by constructing arguments for their interpretations, and how to identify these arguments when reading secondary sources.
3. Introduce the diversity of ways in which historians can interpret the past.
4. Familiarise students with a wide range of primary sources from the past, and how they can be analysed

Module learning outcomes

By taking the module you will be given the opportunity to develop the following skills:

1. Become familiar with studying the history of people and communities whose lives were very different from our own experiences
2. Develop confidence in reading academic historical writing with a focus on identifying and analysing interpretation and argument
3. Gain skills in analysing primary sources of many kinds
4. Gain confidence in completing typical university-level assignments in history such as essays and source analyses

Module information

You are likely to want to gain background knowledge of early modern European history. The following textbooks provide useful introductory reading (this list is also on Talis):

Bergin, J. (ed.), The Seventeenth Century 1598-1715 (Oxford, 2000).
Cameron, E. (ed.). Early Modern Europe: An Oxford History (Oxford, 1999).
Collins, J.B. and Taylor, K.L. (eds), Early Modern Europe. Issues and Interpretations (Oxford, 2006).
Kamen, H., Early Modern European Society (London, 2000).
Koenigsberger, H.G. et al., Europe in the Sixteenth Century, 2nd edition (Harlow, 2000).
Kumin, B. (ed.), The European World 1500-1800 (London, 2009).
Merriman, J., A History of Modern Europe. Vol. I: From the Renaissance to the Reformation , 1598-1700 (Basingstoke, 2nd edition 2005).
Munck, T., Seventeenth-Century Europe: State, Conflict and the Social Order in Europe, 2nd edition (Basingstoke, 2005).
Pettegree, A., Europe in the Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2002).
Wiesner-Hanks, M.E., Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2013).

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and seminars.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Draft analysis of a secondary source (500 words) (formative)  11/11/2021  0% 
Coursework   Analysis of a secondary source (500 words)  08/12/2021  20% 
Coursework   Analysis of a primary source (1000 words)  09/02/2022  20% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)  28/03/2022  50% 
Practical   Seminar participation    10% 
Exam  1440 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Justin Colson, email:
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Mark Williams
Cardiff University
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History
Available via Moodle
Of 1203 hours, 60 (5%) hours available to students:
1143 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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