Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Dread and Despair? : Living with Disability in the Middle Ages
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Blog Post  (1,000 words)  20%
Semester Assessment Written Project  (4,000 words)  80%
Supplementary Assessment Blog Post  (1,000 words)  20%
Supplementary Assessment Written Project  (4,000 words)  80%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify and discuss primary sources, including visual, material, literary, archaeological, and documental forms of historical evidence.

2. Demonstrate a knowledge of the historiographical debates relating to disability in the Middle Ages, understanding how scholars’ arguments are constructed based on the primary sources they use and their theoretical approach.

3. Evaluate how the impaired body was conceptualised within the medieval mindset, thinking about both the lived experience of dis/ability, the treatment available to individuals with impairments, and the representation of bodily difference in popular culture.

4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse and deploy a range of interdisciplinary evidence to produce appropriate arguments.

Brief description

Drawing upon a range of interdisciplinary sources (including texts, images, material objects, and skeletal remains) this module will investigate medieval understandings and representations of disability. Students will consider accounts of different kinds of bodily impairment and infirmity from a range of later medieval sources to learn how an interdisciplinary methodology might be employed to access an (often, but not always) marginalized social group.


Week 1: Introduction – Defining Disability
Week 3: Textual Sources (1) – ‘Dangling from a Strip of Skin’ - Infirmity and Autobiography
Week 4: Textual Sources (2) – Pain, Trauma, and the Miraculous
Week 5: Visual Sources (1) – Mischief in the Margins
Week 6: Visual Sources (2) – Spectacles, Saints, and Fools
Week 7: Material Culture (1) – Prosthetic Limbs and Pilgrim Staffs
Week 8: Material Culture (2) – Where’s the Rest? Material Culture Without Material Remains
Week 9: Skeletal Remains (1) – Surviving Amputation and Injury
Week 9: Skeletal Remains (2) – Case Study of a King (in a Carpark)
Week 10: Conclusion

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. These skills will be assessed through assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance This will be developed through the need to organize work to meet deadlines in a satisfactory manner.
Information Technology Through the retrieval of primary and secondary works from online resources and AberLearn Blackboard and through the writing, formatting and printing of essays.
Personal Development and Career planning The development of oral and written skills will prepare students for careers which involve the research, critical analysis and presentation of material relevant to a particular problem or set of problems. This will be developed consistently throughout the module, as students will need to reflect on what they have read and on questions posed in seminars and essays in order to reach conclusions. This will be an essential element of seminar discussions which will then inform the students’ written work.
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 Critical and analytical thinking are essential in order to gather relevant evidence in order to produce convincing arguments in essays and in seminar discussions.
Subject Specific Skills These will be developed through work on sources relevant to heritage and medical history.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5