Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Special Subject
Academic Year
Available semesters 1 and 2
60 credits of HY or HA modules at Level 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 3 hours per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment essay 2 - 2,500 words  25%
Semester Assessment source analysis, document analysis or oral presentation  10%
Semester Assessment essay 1 - 2,500 words  25%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   2 Hour examination  40%

Learning Outcomes

The module is a Special Subject, the aim of which is to provide third-year students with an opportunity to study a particular period or problem in great depth, with reference to primary as well as secondary sources. On completion, students will:
a) be familiar with a body of historical knowledge in the relevant field of the special subject
b) be familiar with comparative perspectives in the relevant field of the special subject
c) be able to show an understanding of a range of approaches to the relevant study period
d) have further developed their ability to read, analyse and reflect critically on secondary and primary texts, including contemporary literary, philosophical, constitutional and religious writings
e) have further developed their ability to develop and sustain historical arguments, orally (not formally assessed) and in writing
f) have further developed their ability to gather and sift appropriate items of historical evidence
g) have further developed their ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and to participate in group discussions (not formally assessed)

Brief description

The aim of a History special subject is to provide final year single honours history students with an opportunity to study a relatively narrow and specialised subject in considerable depth and with substantial attention to original sources.

A range of special subjects will be available in each semester. Each new special subject course will be presented for approval separately, but will share the same module identifier. The module co-ordinator for Special Subjects will arrange for students' choice of special subject, in consultation with the degree scheme co-ordinator(s).


Pillars of the Earth: medieval cathedrals and their builders

Cathedrals are among the greatest monuments to survive from the European Middle Ages, testaments to the ingenuity and skill of those who created them. Furthermore, cathedrals provide a fascinating insight into the culture from which they emerged, reflecting faith, power, wealth, ambition, humility, humor and other aspects of life in the Middle Ages. Focusing on examples from England, Wales and northern France, this module will utilize a wide range of documentary and non-documentary sources to explore why and how cathedrals were constructed and embellished, and how and by whom they were used (and sometimes misused). The possibility of arranging an appropriate field trip to reinforce the learning of these aspects will be explored.

This module is taught in ten three-hour seminars. The seminar titles are as follows:

1. Introduction: sources, how to read a building
2. Why cathedrals? Origins, locations, meanings
3. From Romanesque to Gothic: c.1100-1200
4. The flowering of Gothic: c.1200-1350
5. Why they didn’t fall down (and sometimes did): cathedral builders
6. Books for the unlearned I: sculpture and glass
7. Books for the unlearned II: wall-paintings, floors and furnishings
8. Housing the holy (and not-so-holy): shrines, tombs and chapels
9. ‘Don’t shoot the pigeons’: the uses and misuses of cathedrals
10. Pillars of the earth: cathedrals and the medievalist

Semester Assessment: 2 x 2,500 word essays
Document analysis of 1,500 words.
1 x three-hour closed exam (three essay questions)
Supplementary Assessment: 1 x three-hour closed exam (three essay questions) and any missing written work


This module is at CQFW Level 6