Europe Transformed: 1450-1750

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
08 June 2020


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 V100 History,
BA V101 History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V102 History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V103 History (Including Placement Year),
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)

Module description

This module focuses on what is often called 'the early modern period', a span of around 250 years sometimes depicted as the watershed between the 'medieval' and 'the modern'. You will find some elements of this period which has shaped our society 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?
* Which individuals, social groups, or particular regions benefited most from such changes, and which were more adversely affected by them?
* To what degree did continuity as opposed to change play an important role in shaping early modern belief systems and social and political structures?

In order to answer these questions we will focus on selected early modern themes: 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

The purpose of this module is to familiarise students with this important period of history and to give them a foundation for the study of modern history modules and other, more specialised early modern history modules that they might take in subsequent years of study. The module is also designed to train students in the key skills necessary for university study, with specific emphasis on those skills specific to the discipline of history.

Module learning outcomes

By taking the module you will be given the opportunity to develop the following skills:
• research and information-gathering skills
• the critical analysis of primary and secondary sources
• the construction and communication of a sequence of ideas both verbally (through seminar participation) and in writing (through writing essays)
• the ability to work in small groups
• the development of a self-reflexive approach to your learning

All these skills will help you not just as historians but also in the world of work. They are valued by employers and will be of benefit to you when applying for either temporary or permanent jobs in future.

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)    0% 
Coursework   Analysis of a secondary source (500 words)    20% 
Coursework   Analysis of a primary source (750-1000 words)    20% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)    50% 
Practical   Seminar Participation    10% 
Exam  Main exam: 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Thomas Freeman, 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 295 hours, 169 (57.3%) hours available to students:
126 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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