Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Medieval Chronicles: Historical Writing in the British Isles 540-1300
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
HA34720, HY32320, HY32520, HY33120, HY33320, HY32220, HY32720, HY32820, HY33520, HY34120, HY34320, HY34820

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hrs seminars individual tutorials of 10 - 15 minutes project planning


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x documentary analysis (1,500 words)  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x project (5000 words)  60%
Semester Assessment 1 x essay (1,500 words)  20%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

demonstrate familiarity with the ways in which medieval historical writings have been used by historians and an awareness of the challenges of working with these sources;

demonstrate an awareness of historical opinions regarding these works

analyze and reflect critically on the relationship between the intentions of those who participated in creating these sources and their historical value.

construct and sustain historical arguments orally (unassessed) and in writing

work both independently and collaboratively and to participate in group discussions (unassessed)

Brief description

This module will examine the development of historical writing in Britain from the sixth century through to the reign of Edward I. It will initially focus upon the basic skills required to use editions of medieval texts efficiently, primarily a basic understanding of the terminology associated with manuscripts, editorial principles and the critical apparatus. This basic knowledge will then enable a better understanding of the most important sources for early medieval Britain. Starting with the work of Gildas, the primary source for early medieval Britain and proceeding through the major texts of Bede, the Historia Brittonum, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and associated minor texts, the first part of the module will provide an overview of pre-Norman sources and their relationships to each other. The second-half of the module will focus upon the three most prominent writers of the early twelfth century, William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon who wrote two of the most important chronicles of the period, and Geoffrey of Monmouth whose History of the Kings of Britain became the most influential work of the medieval period. It was also responsible for the Matter of Britain which so influenced European literature with its stories of Brutus, Vortigern and King Arthur. The module will finish with an introduction to the chronicle sources that deal primarily with the history of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. By the end of the module the student will have an understanding of the major chronicle sources of medieval Britain, their reasons for being written and their relationships to each other. They will also be able to consult the editions of these sources with confidence and therefore study them in greater depth.


This module will provide an additional choice as part of the range of skills, sources and methods modules available to second year students, which will be of particular interest to students studying for the single honours in Medieval and Early Modern History. It will give students an opportunity to consider how and why medieval chronicles and texts were produced and how they may be used as a source by historians.


Seminar 1 Introduction: Understanding editions of medieval texts
Seminar 2 Gildas (c.540) and the earliest post Roman sources
Seminar 3 Bede The Ecclesiastical history of the English People (731)
Seminar 4 The Historia Brittonum (830)
Seminar 5 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Seminar 6 The First Norman Historians
Seminar 7 Geoffrey of Monmouth
Seminar 8 Historical writing in Wales
Seminar 9 Historical Writing in Scotland
Seminar 10 The Chronicles of Ireland

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. Literary skills will be assessed through written assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given on improving students¿ research techniques and essay writing skills.
Information Technology Students will be required to locate primary and secondary source materials through library and on-line sources. Students will be encouraged to word-process their assessed work and handouts for presentations. Likewise, students will be expected to use IT in their presentations.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will help develop oral and written skills. Other activities, including research, assessment of information and writing in a clear manner, will further develop useful skills of analysis and presentation.
Problem solving Students will be required to locate and assess primary source materials. Assessed through written assignments and presentations.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and written work. The latter will be assessed though written assignments and presentations.
Subject Specific Skills This module will develop a knowledge of how to use particular types of medieval texts and how they have been utilised by historians.
Team work Students will collaborate during seminar activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6