Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
History on Screen: The Tudors and the Early Modern World
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
External Examiners
  • Dr Alice J Taylor (Reader - King's College London)
  • Mr William D Jones (Reader - (Formerly Cardiff University))
  • Professor Michael P Brown (Professor - University of Aberdeen)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1,000 word essay  20%
Semester Assessment 4,000 word project  80%
Supplementary Assessment 1,000 word essay  20%
Supplementary Assessment 4,000 word project  80%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate an understanding of different ways in which early modern history has been portrayed in film.

Demonstrate an understanding of how the makers of these films attempt to engage with their audience, and the kinds of issues that determine their content and style.

Analyze and reflect critically on the relationship between history in film and history as an academic discipline.

Construct cogent historical arguments relating to early modern history on film.


History has been a source of raw material for film-makers since moving pictures were first made in the late 19th century. The execution of Mary Queen of Scots provided one early subject (1895) and the Early Modern period has continued to dominate film-makers’ interests because of its combination of richly-documented and melodramatic events, colourful lives and costumes. Our view of the period, and perhaps of ‘the past’ as a whole, is heavily influenced by the films which have depicted it on screen. But historians have only recently begun to study the impact of such films, and to use the medium themselves. This module explores a range of films made for the cinema, TV or other media to consider their potential as vehicles for historical representation, and their relationship with both the primary evidence, and with historians’ own accounts of the past.

Brief description

The module will introduce history students to the history of film-making itself, and to the process whereby films are conceived, researched, scripted and shot. The use by 20th-century historians of film as primary source material will be considered briefly, alongside the development of sophisticated market analysis tools and the study of audience response as means of gauging the cultural and economic impact of particular films. The idea of ‘early modernity’ as understood by historians will be explored, and the uses to which this period has been put by film-makers, particularly since the 1940s. Long-term changes in the ways in which history has been presented will be discussed, and the rationale behind the choice of subject and treatment adopted. The skills in question will be both those of the historian, tasked with reconstructing the past as accurately as possible, and of the film-maker, committed to the creation of a vivid and persuasive reconstruction of the past. How far the ethical, professional and commercial ambitions of the two vary will also be considered. After 4 introductory sessions, discussion will be organised around a number of themes: culture, gender, race, religion, monarchy and empire.


10 x 2 hour weekly seminars:

1. History and Film

2. The concept of Early Modernity

3. Reading a Film Critically

Sessions 4-10 will examine a number of themes, pertinent to the early modern period, which have been treated by various filmmakers. These will include: Monarchy, Gender, Race, Religion and Belief, Culture, Politics, and Empire and Imperialism

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number NA
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work.
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 examine how film makers have depicted and interpreted various well-known and lesser known early modern themes, events and personalities. It will encourage students to think about some of the tensions that exist between ‘popular’ and ‘academic’ histories.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5