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HIS3219 : Living Together: Christians, Muslims and Jews in Medieval Iberia (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nicola Clarke
  • 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


Medieval Iberia, meeting place of monotheisms, has attracted more than its fair share of extravagant claims over the years. At their most intemperate, assessments of Iberia have lauded it as a wonderland of inter-religious tolerance – sometimes expressed by the concept of convivencia, or ‘living together’ – or else lamented it as a war-torn warning that multiculturalism is always doomed to fail. Hyperbole aside, Iberia offers us the chance to see how medieval societies coped with religious and cultural difference in both war and peace. Social norms, legal frameworks, architectural styles and the rhetorics of political legitimacy are all testament to the patchwork of accommodation, repression and anxiety that was life in medieval Iberia, on both the Muslim and the Christian sides of the territorial divide.

This module will explore the experiences of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the peninsula as political, cultural and religious actors. The primary focus will be on moments of contact between these cultures, between 711 (the Muslim conquest of Iberia) and 1284 (the end of the reign of Alfonso X of Leon-Castile). We shall approach the period primarily through case studies of particular times, places and texts. One such case study is that of the so-called ‘spontaneous martyrs’ of Cordoba, a small group of ninth-century Christians who deliberately sought death at the hands of the Muslim authorities in al-Andalus; we shall use the martyrs to consider how processes of acculturation and assimilation affect social institutions, cultural belonging, and family life. The picture of monolithic clashing civilisations will be challenged and complicated throughout by attention to diversity and fluidity on both sides: ethnic and sectarian divisions among Muslims; the experiences of converts and the children of religiously-mixed marriages; and the mismatch between external and internal approaches to the conflict, in the shape of Frankish and North African incomers to Iberia.

As is usual for a 'special subject' module, we'll approach all this first and foremost through primary source texts, discussed in seminars. Particular attention will be paid to lawcodes, chronicles, and poetry for evidence of the theory and practice of relations between dominant and subordinate religious groups, in both al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) and the Christian kingdoms of the northern peninsula.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes covered may include the following: conceptualisation and legitimisation of authority; communal and individual identities; multiculturalism; gender; law in theory and practice.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion371:0037:00Additional time for work on summative assessments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading201:0020:00Essential background reading in secondary literature, approx 2 hrs per week
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities301:0030:00Structured reading to prepare primary sources for seminars, approx 3 hrs per week
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching103:0030:00Weekly group seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Drop-in surgeries for assessment preparation.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study801:0080:00Wider reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability; they allow students to develop and test their own ideas, based on reading undertaken independently; they encourage students to discuss with each other, not just with the tutor. They are central to the special subject as an extended group project, in which staff and students discover and analyse primary sources collectively.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M40Essay of 2,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Portfolio2A60Portfolio of three source commentaries, totalling 1,800 words (including footnotes but excluding 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 exercise2MDraft source commentary of 500 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, and develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

Essays test students’ ability to conduct independent research, relate primary source documents to broader problems, formulate an interpretation of evidence in response to a question, and write in clear academic language. Source commentaries test students' ability to engage closely with primary sources, assessing issues such as authorship, genre, context, style, and usefulness to the historian.

For the formative assessment, students will have the opportunity to submit a draft version of one of the three commentaries required for the final portfolio. They will then be able to revise this based on written and verbal feedback before the final submission.

The form of the resit is no different from the above, i.e. no marks are carried over from the sit to the resit. Students are not allowed to submit for the resit any work that they have previously submitted.

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