Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Social and Economic History of Early Modern Europe
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 19 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

a) Demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of historical knowledge in the field of early modern European social and economic history
b) Engage in source criticism, discussion and understanding of key concepts in social and economic history as these relate to this period
c) Demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of historical techniques relevant to the reconstruction of early modern communities, trade patterns, population movements and wage/price fluctuations
d) Read, analyse and reflect critically on secondary and primary texts, in particular on early examples of 'economic' writing relating to inflation and 'mercantilist' concerns
f) Explore the relationships between history and other disciplines, particularly sociology, social anthropology, economics and literary criticism

Brief description

This option module is intended to provide students with a broad general understanding of social forms and economic activity in (mainly) western Europe between the later 15th and the 18th centuries. The module will combine approaches drawn from more traditional economic history, with the more recent work of cliometricians, historical demographers, and historians of popular culture. In this sense, the module aims to convey the totalising ambitions of historians currently working in this field, who are aiming to examine early modern society as a 'whole'. Among the topics considered are: trade, agriculture and manufacture; 'idleness' and poverty, marriage patterns, family and household forms, festivals, holy days, guilds, town life, population mobility.


To provide students with an understanding of the social and economic history of early modern Europe.
To introduce students to the methods employed by historians and other academics in their studies of the period.
To broaden student’s familiarity with a rich and diverse historiography.


1. Introduction: Early Modern Europe: Social and Economic Geography
2. Social order & household structure
3. Demographic trends
4. Migration
5. Urbanisation
6. Agriculture
7. Rural Industry
8. Trade
9. The Discoveries
10. The Distribution of Wealth and Poverty
11. Government Regulation
12. Disorder and Revolt
13. Women's Work
14. Technology
15. Proto-industrialisation: a failed concept?
16. The cultural origins of Political Economy
17. Marx and Weber on Pre-industrial Europe
18. Recent theories of industrial and consumer development: Consumption before de Vries' 'Industrious Revolution'

1.Maps, graphs & prints: tools of the trade
2. Centres and peripheries
3. Rural backwardness?
4. Inflation
5. A World of Goods
6. Unequal shares
7. Women's work: a residual or central resource?
8. Adam Smith and his precursors/or
9. Daniel Defoe
10. De Vries: for and against

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6