Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Barbarians in History, 376-1066: Skills and Sources
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x oral assessment  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x 4,000 word project  80%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x supplementary (resit) oral assessment  20%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 4,000 word supplementary (resit) project  80%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate an understanding of the strengths and limitations of a variety of textual, material and visual sources relating to the barbarian migrations.

Demonstrate an understanding of the importance and difficulties of an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of the barbarian migrations.

Demonstrate an understanding of the major historiographical debates concerning the value and meaning of the primary evidence for the barbarian migrations and their impact.

Construct cogent historical arguments relating to the barbarian migrations.


The early medieval migrations of Germanic, Slavic and Hun groups transformed Roman Europe and laid the foundations of medieval kingdoms in the Latin and Germanic-speaking west and the Byzantine Greek and Slavic speaking East. Because of the paucity and problematic nature of the textual sources for these population movements, scholars examining their causes, nature and impact are compelled to also draw upon archaeological and visual evidence. To aid their attempts at building up a coherent picture from these various sources of evidence, some scholars have also applied modern anthropological approaches to their evidence. This module will introduce students to the range of sources, methods and skills for studying the barbarian migrations of the second half of the first millennium A.D. and the value and pitfalls of interdisciplinary study.

Brief description

This module will explore the primary evidence for the study of barbarian migrations and their social, political, economic and cultural impact throughout continental Europe in the early medieval period. It will examine a range of textual sources, written by the barbarian groups themselves and by the communities affected by barbarian migrations and invasions. Archaeological evidence for the settlement patterns and material culture of barbarian groups will also be examined, as well as anthropological approaches used by modern scholars to fill in the gaps left by the patchy textual and material evidence. Students will also be introduced to modern debates concerning the usage and meanings of these various sources and approaches. This introduction to interdisciplinarity in early medieval European history will stress the need to understand different sources of evidence on their own terms before comparing and contrasting them.


Weekly 2-hour seminars

1. Introduction: barbarian migrations and the transition from ancient to medieval Europe.
2. Through the eyes of the victims I: Roman sources for the ‘Great Migrations’, 376-488.
3. Through the eyes of the victims II: East Roman sources for the ethnogensis of the Slavs, 520-681.
4. Through the eyes of the victims III: Anglo-Saxon, Frankish, Byzantine and Arabic sources for the Viking invasions and conquests, 794-1066.
5. The barbarian perspective: oral traditions and legitimising histories.
6. Daily life and subsistence: settlement archaeology and functional artefact analysis.
7. Inside the barbarian mind: burials, visual evidence and cognitive archaeology.
8. On the move: anthropological migration theories and models of barbarian population movement.
9. When is a Goth not a Goth? Anthropological approaches to ethnicity and barbarian identity.
10. Barbarian war studies: an interdisciplinary approach to barbarian martial culture, tactics, and strategies.

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 Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given regarding the improvement of research and techniques and essay writing skills
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 This module will develop oral and written skills. It will also prepare students for careers which involve the research, critical analysis and presentation of material relevant to a particular problem or set of problems
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 be required to carry out research for seminars and written work.
Subject Specific Skills This module will require students to not only analyse in detail textual sources, but to appreciate the historical value of archaeological and visual evidence and anthropological approaches.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5