Module Catalogue 2023/24

HIS2301 : Communication in the Medieval World, from Europe to Asia: Prayer, Poetry, Pictures, and Travel

HIS2301 : Communication in the Medieval World, from Europe to Asia: Prayer, Poetry, Pictures, and Travel

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nicola Clarke
  • Lecturer: Dr Philip Garrett, Ms Anne Redgate
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



This module will approach key themes in the medieval history of Europe and the Middle East through the motif of communication. By investigating the context and content of medieval communication, we will be able explore a range of social, political and religious relationships: within families and communities, between rulers and ruled, between past and present, and between the temporal and spiritual worlds. While much of the communication discussed will be accessed through primary source texts, there will be an important place in the module for visual material (art, buildings, objects), and for sources that span the textual/physical divide (such as descriptions of ritual). The module will also seek to unpick notions of the medieval world as static, unchanging, and monocultural, by looking at the movement of ideas and people, emphasizing networks of knowledge and cross-cultural connections.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics that may be covered include:

•       communication and legitimacy: coins, proclamations, inscriptions, monuments
•       communication as performance: poetry, drama, sermons
•       communication and identity: foundation myths and tales of the ancestors
•       communication and religion: prayer, ritual, commemoration
•       communication and travel: trade routes, pilgrimage, migration
•       communication and knowledge: translation, education, language, advice books
•       communication, family, community: reputation, law, wills, letters

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of this modules, students should:

•       have a general grasp of the chronology of the medieval world, in both Europe and the Middle East
•       understand how social, political and religious dynamics were expressed through verbal and visual communication
•       have read and analysed a range of primary sources in depth
•       be alert to the gaps and problems in our sources, and prepared to read against the grain
•       understand how various types of medieval texts and objects were produced, and the factors that affect their chances of survival to the present

Intended Skill Outcomes

Like all History modules, Communication in the Medieval World will help students to develop their core skills of analysis, critical reading, and communication. In addition, by the end of this module, students should:

•       know how to approach different categories of primary source material, both textual and material
•       be able to suggest uses for all sources, however partial or problematic
•       be able to reflect on how historians produce historical narrative from primary sources

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:00Reading, planning, and writing essays
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials91:009:00Online structured reading exercises and/or recorded materials. Part of student contact hours
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading801:0080:00Preparation for small group teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Drop-in surgeries to help with preparation of assessments; 2hrs of this in final week.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study321:0032:00Wider reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

LECTURES enable students to gain a wider sense of historical argument and debate and how such debates operate, which also allows them to develop comparisons between different historiographical debates. ONLINE LECTURE MATERIALS follow up on the weekly lectures and link to the seminars; they are designed to provide focused case studies of specific primary texts, images or objects.

SURGERY TIME: Staff will make themselves available for three hours over the course of the module to see students individually or in groups on issues concerning them, although we expect this will focus on preparation for assessments. This is addition to standard office hours.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M401500 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Essay2A602000 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2M500 word source commentary
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining the student’s progress.
2. Summative assessment tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research and reading.
3. Formative assessment will take the form of one documentary commentary of 500 words, to give students a chance to explore a piece of primary evidence in depth.
3. The summative work will take the form of two essays; titles will be provided to students on Canvas. The second essay receives a higher weighting to reflect the fact that students will have greater familiarity with the module material, and will have benefitted from feedback on the first essay to improve their skills and approach for the second.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Welcome to Newcastle University Module Catalogue

This is where you will be able to find all key information about modules on your programme of study. It will help you make an informed decision on the options available to you within your programme.

You may have some queries about the modules available to you. Your school office will be able to signpost you to someone who will support you with any queries.


The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.