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HIS3204 : The British Revolutions, 1640-1660

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Rachel Hammersley
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 40 student places

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


The British Revolutions of the mid-seventeenth century are fundamental to British history. The period between 1640 and 1660 witnessed a bitter civil war which set the two components of the government (King and Parliament) against each other; the first public execution of an king in history; and the first and only republic in these islands. This period has also generated a huge amount of historical debate. This module will focus on the period 1640-1660 and will examine events not only in England, Scotland, Ireland and beyond. Since this is a Special Subject, the focus throughout will be on examining primary documents and texts and using them to reconstruct and interpret this period in British history.

The aims of this module are:
•To enable students to study the period of the British Revolutions (1640-1660) in depth and to engage with both primary sources from the period and the major historiographical debates concerning it.
•To give students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of this short period of British history.
•To introduce students to historical research and to guide them in the analysis of primary documents and texts.
•Thereby to enable students to develop their own interpretation of the period.
•To provide an opportunity of investigating in some depth selected problems, including the appraisal of selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography.
•To provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only. Actual subjects may differ from those listed.
Seminar 1 – Background and Causes
Seminar 2 – The Descent into Civil War
Seminar 3 – The New Model Army and the Civil Wars
Seminar 4 – Regicide and Republic
Seminar 5 – Oliver Cromwell and the Protectorate
Seminar 6 – Restoration
Seminar 7 – Religion and Revolution
Seminar 8 – Radicalism and Revolution
Seminar 9 – The Political Thought of the British Revolutions
Seminar 10 - English Republicanism

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading561:0056:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study561:0056:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Workshops involve the whole group and will involve a combination of lecture material and group activities.
Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem solving skills and adaptability.
Surgery time provides the opportunity for students to have individual discussions with the module leader regarding their assessment for the module. This means that individual problems can be picked up on and dealt with.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Doc.commentary of 800 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography) due mid semester
Essay1A75Long essay of 3,000 words on a question agreed with the module leader.
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 exercise1MDraft essay plan for discussion and feedback., 200 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The documentary commentary tests the ability to critically analyse, contextualise, and connect a primary source to the debates and developments of a given historical period.
The essay tests acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject as well as the ability to locate and synthesize relevant information and express complex ideas clearly in written form using appropriate scholarly apparatus.
The formative essay plan helps students to present a strong essay and to think about argument and structure in advance.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. Submitted work tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research, reading and writing'.

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