Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module HPH-4006:
Documents and sources Med&EMod

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Susan Johns

Overall aims and purpose

To introduce students to a wide range of kinds of source relevant to medieval and early modern history. To introduce students to different genres of source and examples of different kinds of source. To introduce students to problems of interpreting sources, their transmission, reception and survival.

Course content

The course will examine a wide range of medieval and early modern genres of historical sources, including charters,seals, letters, administrative sources, records of central government, historians of medieval England and Wales, probate records, legal records, sources for parliament, visual sources, pamphlets.

Assessment Criteria


B/60%: To proceed to a dissertation, students will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria. To achieve a merit (B- to B+) students will demonstrate a solid level of achievement and depth of knowledge in all the criteria in the B- to B+ 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. .


A/70%: 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. To gain a distinction, students will, in addition, demonstrate originality in their interpretation of the evidence.

C- to C+

C/50%:To pass students must show a basic competence based on the above criteria. They will demonstrate an appropriate depth of knowledge in at least parts of the relevant field using the relevant evidence; they will make at least partially successful attempts to analyse the material showing some knowledge of current debates and interpretations; they will present their written work in a way which demonstrates a serious attempt to structure and present it clearly and correctly. 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


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.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to develop their ability to recognise the significance of different kinds of historical source.

  2. They will develop their ability to assess the role which different kinds of source can play in historical enquiry.

  3. They will develop the capacity to assess the problems involved in the use of different kinds of historical sources.

  4. They will present ONE c.4,500 word assessed essay on a topic relevant to the course which is clearly structured and demonstrates a well argued analysis of the subject using the evidence from the source materials.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 4500 words 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 182

Seminars will allow students to cover the topics in the module in a structured way, to structure their reading, and to discuss individual topics as a group.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • 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
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

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
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • 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
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions


Resource implications for students

It would be useful to purchase one or two key textbooks, but otherwise none.

Reading list

Detailed reading will be provided in the module handbook, the following are indicative only: ‘Sources for Medieval History’: online seminar programme, Lancaster University - Van Caenegem, R. C., Guide to the Sources of Medieval History (1978). Clanchy, M. T., From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307 (2nd edn., 1993). There is much of relevance for the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in R. Britnell (ed.), Pragmatic Literacy, East and West, 1200–1330 (1997). The following volumes in the series The Sources of History are still useful: Ullmann, W., Law and Politics in the Middle Ages (1975). Elton, G. R., England, 1200–1640 (1969). Jack, R. I., Medieval Wales (1972). Hughes, K., Early Christian Ireland: Introduction to the Sources (1972). Webster, B., Scotland from the Eleventh Century to 1603 (1975).

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: