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

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • 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 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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

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 ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Essay preparation workshop ahead of first deadline.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Drop-in surgery to help with preparation for the final assessment.
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.

WORKSHOP: Staff will set out the requirements and expectations of the first assessment with students, and give students the opportunity to receive feedback on the formative essay bibliography and plan.

SURGERY TIME: Staff will make themselves available 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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401500 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Essay1A602000 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 exercise1MAnnotated bibliography and plan for first essay, 500 words.
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 an annotated bibliography and short plan for the first essay, which will be discussed in the workshop.
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.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists