Module HXH-1002:
Birth of Modern Europe

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

  1. A knowledge of the elements contributing to the birth of modern Europe in the period 1450-1550.
  2. An awareness of the different ways in which history may be interpreted and an ability to make choices between interpretations
  3. A mastery of basic study skills, particularly the ability to follow a course of reading, to make effective notes, to benefit from tutorial discussions, to write clear, cogent, evidence-based and fully-referenced essays, and to deploy knowledge and analysis in written examinations. Bibliographic skills, website analysis, and essay planning will receive particular emphasis.

Course content

The Renaissance; the processes of state formation; England and Wales under the early Tudors, Valois France; the career of the Emperor Charles V; Luther and the German Reformation; Henry VIII's break with Rome and the reformation in England.

Assessment Criteria


Students will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of parts of the relevant field; they will make partially successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with important issues of historical interpretation.


Students will show a solid level of achievement across the three criteria described above.


Students will combine this solid achievement across these criteria with a greater depth of knowledge and sophistication of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Mastery of study skills - particularly the ability to construct and present a bibliography, the ability identify and assess the value of websites as sources for historical research and knowledge, and essay planning.

  2. Knowledge of the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries

  3. Awareness of different historical interpretations and the ability to judge between them

  4. The ability to form historical arguments and to back them up with evidence

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Bibliography

A list of works relevant to a topic within the course, laid out correctly as in a bibliography, and a review of two websites


Essay on a topic within the course, from question in the course handbook


Two questions from a selection


Plan in bullet point form of structure of final essay


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 170
Lecture 22
Seminar 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
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • 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.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions


Reading list

Breisach, E., Renaissance Europe, 1300–1517 (London, 1973). Cameron, E. (ed.), Early Modern Europe: An Oxford History (Oxford, 1999). Cunningham, A., and Grell, O. P., The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Religion, War, Famine, and Death in Reformation Europe (Cambridge, 2000). Elton, G. R., Reformation Europe, 1517–1559 (3rd edn., Oxford, 1999). Hale, J. R., Renaissance Europe, 1480–1520 (London, 1971). Hale, J. R., War and Society in Renaissance Europe, 1450–1620 (Leicester, 1985). Koenigsberger, H. G., Mosse, G. L., and Bowler, G. Q., Europe in the Sixteenth Century (2nd edn., London, 1989). Koenigsberger, H. G., Early Modern Europe, 1500–1789 (London, 1987). Mackenney, R., Sixteenth Century Europe: Expansion and Conflict (Basingstoke, 1993). Maland, D., Europe in the Sixteenth Century (London, 1973). Miskimin, H. A., The Economy of Later Renaissance Europe, 1460–1600 (Cambridge, 1977). Pettegree, A., Europe in the Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2002). Rice, E. F., The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460–1559 (London, 1971).

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: