Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The European Reformation
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 6 x 1 Hour Seminars


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

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate an understanding of the main developments in the Reformation in Europe and North America.

Demonstrate an understanding of the historiographical debates on the Reformation in Europe and North America.

Identify and evaluate a wide range of relevant primary and secondary material.

Demonstrate an ability to analyse and deploy relevant historical evidence to produce appropriate arguments.


This module gives students the opportunity to study the sixteenth and seventeenth Reformation in a comparative and trans-national way including not only the European, but the North American context as well. It introduces students to the study of religious belief, central to early modern cultures, and therefore draws upon the disciplines of history, theology and religious studies. The course will complement the department’s existing suite of early modern modules, and will be of great interest to students on the medieval and early modern degree scheme, as well as to history undergraduates more generally.

Brief description

Historians now tend to look at the Reformation as a process rather an event. The idea of Europe’s Long Reformation, stretching from the early sixteenth century until at least the end of the seventeenth, if not beyond, has become increasingly accepted. This module adopts this perspective, and looks at the Protestant and Catholic Reformations throughout Europe, and in North America. The module, therefore, deals with a series of inter-related questions and themes. It looks at the magisterial reformers in some detail, and examines the different ‘reformations’ which they advocated. It then looks at how those different ‘reformations’ became entwined with larger dynastic and political concerns throughout Europe. Adopting a series of case studies, varying both chronologically and geographically, the module tries to do justice to the nature and variety of Protestant belief and spirituality, and looks at what it actually meant in real terms to be a Protestant in this period. The Reformation revolutionized not only theology and worship, but also popular belief, political engagements and domestic relationship. The module also examines some of the debates about the relationship between the Reformation and the emergence of modernity, with a particular focus on, individualism, democracy, capitalism and even secularization.


1. Introduction: historiographical orientation
2. Was there a crisis in the late medieval Church?
3. The Renaissance and the Humanist critique of Catholicism
4. Martin Luther’s 1517 Wittenberg Protest
5. The German Reformation
6. Zwingli and the Reformed Churches
7. The Protestant way of Salvation
8. The Radical Reformation
9. John Calvin and the Elect of Geneva
10. The Catholic Response
11. Confessional Conflict in France and Holland
12. A State Reformation: the British Isles
13. The Spanish Inquisition
14. Religious and Dynastic Conflict in Eastern Europe
15. ‘A city set on a Hill’: Religious Freedom in the New World
16. The Reformation and Popular Belief
17. The Reformation at Home
18. The ‘resolution’ of the Reformation at Westphalia

1. Luther: Conservative or Revolutionary?
2. What was Protestantism?
3. The International Reformed Community
4. Too little too late? The Catholic Response
5. Confessional Armageddon in the seventeenth century
6. An Unintended Reformation?

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
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
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop knowledge of sources and historical literature relating to the Reformation and wider issues concerning the role of faith and belief in early modern European societies.
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 5