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HIS3035 : Elizabeth I: the Politics of Religion

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Morton
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This Special Subject explores significance of religious developments in England in the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), with explicit reference to assessing how far they transformed society, culture and politics at both national and local levels. It is often claimed that during this reign England finally became a ‘Protestant country’, but we will see that this is hugely debatable and that the processes by which faith changed were often controversial and unstable, produced dissent, plurality and rebellion. Examining how the many different shades of Christianity which emerged after the Reformation lived alongside each other in harmony (or not) will be a major aim of the module. To what extent was this an intolerant society, or even a persecuting one?

Students will engage with the legal, liturgical and doctrinal aspects of this transformation, but also to assess it as a process of cultural transition, involving accommodation and negotiation between rulers and ruled, and between neighbours. The recent historiography of the Elizabethan Reformation (and of its sub-fields like Puritanism and Catholicism) has been particularly lively and contentious, and as the module develops, students will increasingly familiarize themselves with this literature, and demonstrate a capacity to assess it critically.

Students will also be introduced to a range of different types of primary source - literary and polemical texts, administrative records of church and state, private letters and memoirs - which students will learn to interrogate and contextualize effectively.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course runs via 11 weekly, 3-hour seminars. In the final week of the module surgery sessions will be run for revision. Seminars will be divided into two halves: the first will discuss the context and historiography of the week’s theme; the second will be spent analyzing a body of documents relating to it.
Seminar 1: From Catholic to Protestant and back again?
Seminar 2: 1558-59: The Elizabethan Religious Settlement.
Seminar 3: The 1560s - the beginnings of the 'Long Reformation'?
Seminar 4: Puritanism.
Seminar 5: The Social Effects of Puritanism.
Seminar 6: 1568-70: a ‘crisis’?
Seminar 7: Catholicism: from Majority to Minority?
Seminar 8: Making martyrs: Catholic & Protestant
Seminar 9: Anti-Catholicism and Anti-Puritanism: inventing the Church of England?
Seminar 10: Protestantism and Popular Culture: revisionism reconsidered?
Seminar 11: Revision Seminar

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:301:30introductory lecture.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00Surgery session for revision
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study153:3053:301/3 of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Independent learning is essential to this module: students are expected to develop skills of source evaluation, critical reading and note-taking in an independent and effective manner. Seminar teaching complements these skills by allowing students the opportunity to share and debate information gathered independently. Oral skills of argument and presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1801A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Essay/doc.commentary of 1,500 to 2,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The balance of assessment provides students to demonstrate their abilities across the range of skills that this module has helped them to develop. The assessed essay examines written argument, histroriographical engagement, independent thinking and independent research. The written examination assess critical evaluation of primary source material, student’s understanding of the course content, and skills of written argument.

Exams test acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided and to write clearly and concisely.

Documentary commentary exercises and examinations test knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module. The ability to compare and contrast related source texts on a common subject. The ability to expound and criticize a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space, and, in an exam, under pressure of time.

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.

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

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.
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.

Reading Lists