Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
European Society and the Medieval Mind 1200-1500
Academic Year
Semester 2
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment Open exam  2500 word open exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Open exam  2500 word open exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate a detailed and sophisticated understanding of the medieval view of the world and developments in learning between 1200 and 1500.

Demonstrate an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of historical arguments which seek to gain an understanding of the ‘medieval mind’, and an ability to challenge them.

Analyse and evaluate a wide variety of primary and secondary source material relating to medieval Europe.

Identify and evaluate different types of appropriate evidence to construct convincing written explorations of topics related to knowledge, society and discovery in medieval Europe.

Brief description

How did the people of the Middle Ages see the world around them? Can we learn about the worldview of a different period? This module will study the medieval understanding of the world, how they interpreted the world and their curiosity to discover more. By considering topics such as imagined ideas about the world, science, the treatment of outsiders and attempts to discover the world beyond Europe we will catch a glimpse at the ‘medieval mind’ and the impact of these ideas on society. The difference between the understanding of the educated and the rest of society will be discussed, as well as the possibility to challenge accepted wisdom. Various sources will be used, including visual material. By the end of the module you should have a better understanding of the people of the Middle Ages and appreciate the way that people in different periods have different ways of thinking about the world around them.


This module will discuss ideas about the ‘medieval mind’ to see how the people of medieval Europe saw the world around them, interpreted it, and sought further understanding. Use will be made of written and visual sources and students will have to consider to what extent these sources can help us to discover and understand the worldview and way of thinking of a different period.


1. Introduction: recognising medieval Europe
Interpreting the world
2. Popular religion
3. Structure of society
4. Mapping the world
5. History
6. Gender and sexuality
7. The supernatural
Membership of society
8. Identity
9. Persecuting the ‘other’
10. Relationship with Islam
Curiosity and discovery
11. Education
12. Universities
13. Science and astronomy
14. Medicine and the body
15. Travelling beyond Europe
16. Reading and the printing press
17. The Age of Discovery
18. Conclusion: understanding the ‘medieval mind’?

1. Approaching the ‘medieval mind’
2. Interpreting the world: knowledge and the imagination
3. Society: membership and the ‘other’
4. Understanding the natural and supernatural world

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework; 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.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop the ability to analyse relevant sources and critically discuss the secondary material.
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 6