Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hrs + individual tutorials of 10-15 minutes
Workload Breakdown 21 hours contact time 59 hours reading 120 hours essay and project preparation and writing


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Documentary analysis  1,500 words  20%
Semester Assessment Essay  1,500 words  20%
Semester Assessment Project  5,000 words. This will in essence be an extended essay on a single theme, relating to the content of the module and chosen in consultation with the module tutor.  60%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary assessment  Failed pieces to be resubmitted, however, uncondoned non-submission will result in students not being allowed to resit this module 

Learning Outcomes

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

demonstrate familiarity with the major currents of medieval occult thought, including philosophical and theological developments;

identify a range of sources for intellectual history and an awareness of the challenges of working with these sources;

demonstrate an awareness of historical debates regarding the development of occultism, science, heresy, and persecution;

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

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


This module will provide an additional choice as part of the range of skills, sources and methods modules available to second year students. It will give students an opportunity to consider how alternative sources of intellectual history can be used by historians to construct an understanding of medieval society and culture.


10 x 2 hour seminars:

1) Introduction: discussion of general themes and problems
2) The Occult in Antiquity: origins of the medieval occult tradition
3) Magic versus Science?
4) Medicine
5) Natural Philosophy and the Medieval Environment
6) Astrology and Astronomy
7) Alchemy
8) Necromancy and Sorcery
9) Condemnation of the Occult
10) Persecution and Connections with Heresy

Brief description

This course will explore how medieval society viewed its universe. From the scientific heritage of antiquity to the growth of occult practices such as astrology, necromancy, and alchemy, the course will examine the often blurry line between magic and science, and the relationship between the occult and heresy. Students will also examine how and why occult practices were condemned, and how a mechanism of persecution was developed across Europe from the thirteenth century onward.

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. 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 religious and intellectual deviance developed during the middle ages, and how historians can use intellectual history to explain and contextualize not only beliefs held by members of society, but also social processes such as persecution.
Team work Students will collaborate during seminar activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6