Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Gerald of Wales
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 Essay 1  (3,000 words)  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2  (3,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1  (3,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2  (3,000 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate a critical understanding of relevant themes and approaches in the history and historiography of Gerald of Wales and the intellectual and literary world of the high middle ages.

Engage in close reading of relevant primary sources and place them in their intellectual and literary context.

Marshal and understand the use of appropriate evidence in formulating historical arguments regarding the history and writing of the high middle ages.

Demonstrate through written work an ability to integrate methodological themes into their own research.

Brief description

Academic rationale of the proposal:
This module will use the writings of Gerald of Wales to appreciate how the work of one individual can throw light upon various aspects of contemporary life and society. Gerald, of mixed Norman and Welsh heritage, was perhaps one of the most famous writers to emerge from medieval Wales. Highly educated, he wrote extensively about the English conquest of Ireland, about Welsh society, English and European society and politics, in addition to producing ? unusually for the period ? various autobiographical writings, treatises on theology and doctrine, a king'r mirror, and various saints? lives. He forms one of the key sources not only for medieval Welsh and Irish history, but for the manner in which high medieval Europeans engaged with the world around them. With a sense of self-worth surpassed only by his ability to use satire and invective, he also makes for enjoyable, though often garrulous readings.
His writings form a window onto the intellectual and literary world of the high middle ages and an in depth reading of them will develop an understanding of matters ranging from high politics to identity and church reform. By getting to grips with the concerns, preoccupations, prejudices and thoughts of one individual a deeper understanding will be gained of medieval sources and of the ways of thinking of the period. Students will be expected to engage in close reading of the sources and to place Gerald'r work within its literary context, while addressing some of the methodological challenges which come with reading these types of sources. Students will also be introduced to the key secondary sources and the way Gerald and his significance has been discussed and understood by historians.

Brief Description:
This module uses the writings of one of the most interesting writers of the high middle ages as a window onto the intellectual and literary world of the period, and discusses the way his work informs us about aspects of the life of the twelfth century. Gerald'r writings will be placed in their literary context and will be used to explore the intellectual world, historical writing and ethnography of the period. His work will also be used to throw light upon matters ranging from the church, both in Wales and internationally, to high politics and identity in the high middle ages. Throughout the module, students will engage in close reading of the sources and come to understand the relationship between one writer and the world around him.

(Indicative content):
1. Introduction: the man and his work
2. The world of Gerald of Wales
3. Gerald and the intellectual world of the central middle ages
4. Gerald and historical writing in the twelfth century
5. Gerald the ethnographer
6. Gerald and identity
7. Gerald and the Anglo-Norman British Isles
8. Gerald and the Welsh church
9. Gerald and church reform
10. Gerald within the central middle ages: overview and conclusions

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number na
Communication Through seminar discussion and essay writing. Latter only is formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance By guided reflection during seminars and feedback sessions following submission of written work.
Information Technology Through data retrieval exercises for research purposes and word-processing for essay writing purposes.
Personal Development and Career planning Through developing research skills, furthering understanding of approaches to the history of the period, and the opportunity this offers for research and history related careers.
Problem solving By understanding how historians seeking to explore the intellectual and literary world of the high middle ages employ a variety of different methodological approaches towards understanding problems within their field.
Research skills By learning how to identify appropriate primary and secondary sources and utilising that material in their work.
Subject Specific Skills By developing ability to understand and use writings of the high middle ages to explore the cultural, ecclesiastical and political life of the period, and appreciate the issues involved in discussing this history.
Team work Through seminar work.


This module is at CQFW Level 7