Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The English Reformation, 1520-58: Revolution and Counter Revolution
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2500 Words  60%
Semester Assessment Document analysis  1500 Words  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2500 Words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Document analysis  1500 Words  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

Display an understanding of the English Reformation in the early sixteenth century.

Comprehend and assess different historical debates and interpretations.

Engage critically with primary source material relating to the emergence and growth of Protestantism during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary.

Express understanding of the English Reformation and discuss related issues.

Brief description

The Reformation is one of the most divisive and controversial topics in English history. Historians disagree widely about the origins of English Protestantism, whether it was popular or not, and the extent to which it proved successful. This Special Subject will examine these issues and others with specific reference to the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary. It will use a wide range of primary sources to do this – state records, religious texts, private correspondence and memoirs – and students will acquire a thorough working knowledge of the rich and diverse historiography on this theme.


This Special Subject is intended to provide a detailed examination of the English Reformation in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Approaching the Reformation as a long process, rather than a specific event, this Special Subject uses a rich variety of primacy sources to discuss and analyse religious changes and the foundational importance of religious questions to early modern England. Students will be expected to develop an in-depth working knowledge of this material and an ability to apply it to the relevant historical issues. This module will explore the early sixteenth century Reformation up to the death of Mary, and provide a foundation for the semester two module.


1. Introduction: why the Reformation matters
2. The medieval church and its ‘British’ critics
3. Lutherans? Early evangelicals in England (c.1520-32)
4. Henry VIII and the ‘King’s Great Matter’
5. Enforcing the Royal Supremacy: the Dissolution of the Monasteries
6. Henry VIII’s Church: Catholic, but not Roman
7. Edward VI: a radical Reformation?
8. Thomas Cranmer and the making of the Church of England
9. The Marian Church: an English Counter Reformation?
10. Conclusion: what did Elizabeth I inherit?

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars.
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 an in-depth understanding of the English Reformation of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
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