Module HGH-2112:
Civil War: Eng & Wal 1558-1660

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Tony Claydon

Overall aims and purpose

The late Tudor and early Stuart era in England and Wales was one of the most turbulent, and has become one of the most controversial, periods the nations' histories. The dramatic events of the era have stimulated historical debate as scholars have argued over the stability of Elizabethan politics, society and church settlement, and about causes and immediate effectos of the mid-century Civil Wars. This course aims to acquaint students with the events of the period; to introduce the rival interpretations of it and equip students to judge between them; to encourage them to synthesise their own understanding of the era as a whole; and to encourage them them to take special interest in particular aspects.

Course content

The course concentrates upon political and religious history - but social, cultural, economic and intellectual aspects are also considered where they are relevant to the core of the course. Topics covered: The breakdown of the Elizabethan polity (1588-1629); the personal rule of Charles I (1629-1640); the Civil Wars (1640-48), the regicide of 1649, the English republic 1649-60, and the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Assessment Criteria


Threshold students (D- and D) will have done only a minimum of reading, and their work will often be based partly on lecture notes and/or basic textbooks. They will demonstrate in their written assessments some knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies, but they will fail to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; and/or deploy only some relevant material but partly fail to combine it into a coherent whole; and/or deploy some evidence to support individual points but often fail to do so and/or show difficulty weighing evidence (thereby relying on unsuitable or irrelevant evidence when making a point). Alternatively or additionally, the presentation of the work might also be poor, with bad grammar and/or punctuation, careless typos and spelling errors, and a lack of effective and correct referencing. Students in this band (C- to C+) will demonstrate a satisfactory range of achievement or depth of knowledge of most parts of the module, and will make successful, if occasionally inconsistent, attempts to develop those skills appropriate to the study of History at undergraduate level. In the case of the written assessments, the answers will attempt to focus on the question, although might drift into narrative, and will show some evidence of solid reading and research. The argument might lose direction and might not be adequately clear at the bottom of this category. Written work will be presented reasonably well with only limited errors in grammar, punctuation, and referencing, and not to the extent that they obscure meaning


Good students (B- to B+) will demonstrate a solid level of achievement and depth of knowledge in all the criteria in the C- to C+ range, and will in addition exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical writing and historiographical interpretation. Ideas will be communicated effectively and written work will include a good range of sources/reading and demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues and of the existing interpretations expressed in a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument. Students at the top end of this band will engage with and critique the ideas that they come across, and synthesise the various interpretations they find to reach their own considered conclusions. Written work will be correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.


Excellent students (A- and above) will show strong achievement across all the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis. In written work, they will support their arguments with a wealth of relevant detail/examples. They will also demonstrate an acute awareness of the relevant historiography and give an account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical debate. They may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, nuancing their argument in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. Standards of presentation will also be high.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of the overall development of England and Wales in the period 1588-1660.

  2. Illustrate a detailed knowledge of specific aspects of the period.

  3. Judge between the alternative historical interpretations of the period, including current historiographic positions

  4. Synthesise historical arguments about long-term developments in England and Wales, 1588-1642 (in the exam); and present detailed historical arguments about specific aspects of the period (in the exam and essay).

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM exam

Candidates will answer two questions on specific aspects of the period 1588-1662 in two hours. Questions will be released 48 hours before the exam.


Candidates will answer a question on a wide-ranging topic, requiring knowledge and argument about longer term developments within the period, or conditions that lasted the whole period


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 18
Seminar 5
Private study 169
Workshop 8

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting


Reading list

Robert Ashton, Reformation and revolution, 1558-1660 4th edition (1992) Ann Hughes, The causes of the English civil war (1991) - 2nd edition (1998) N.Carlin, The causes of the English civil war (1999) Roger Lockyer, The early Stuarts (1989) Conrad Russell, The causes of the English civil war (1990) Derek Hirst, England in conflict, 1603-1660 (1999) Graham Seel, The early Stuart kings (2001) Graham Seel, Regicide and republic (2001) Austin Woolrych, Britain in revolution, 1625-1660 (2002)

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: