SECTION 1: MODULE SPECIFICATIONS Title of the module
The Black Death and Transformation of Europe, 1346-1400
School or partner institution which will be responsible for management of the module
Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Start date of the module
The number of students expected to take the module
Modules to be withdrawn on the introduction of this proposed module and consultation with other relevant Schools and Faculties regarding the withdrawal
The level of the module (e.g. Certificate [C], Intermediate [I], Honours [H] or Postgraduate [M])
The number of credits and the ECTS value which the module represents
Which term(s) the module is to be taught in (or other teaching pattern)
Either Autumn or Spring
Prerequisite and co-requisite modules
The programmes of study to which the module contributes
MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
The intended subject specific learning outcomes
In the course of the module, the students will be exposed to a wide gamut of historiographic problems and interdisciplinary methodologies, related to the study of perhaps the single deadliest pandemic in human history. In addition to discussing and analyzing particular texts and secondary literature, the course will undertake a fieldtrip to a deserted village site and to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives, home to a large number of manorial documents from the Black Death years. The module will have a strong impact on methodological skills of participating students and, as such, it will contribute a great deal to their professional and scholarly development.
The intended generic learning outcomes:
The module will earn the students several qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
Critical thinking and assessment
Source-material and data analysis
The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
12.5 Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and
12.6 The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
A synopsis of the curriculum
Having arrived from the East in late 1347, a deadly and mysterious epidemic, whose nature is still uncertain, ravaged Europe for four years, killing about 50 per cent of its already weak population. But apart from killing the population, the Black Death left its profound marks on European economy, society, mentality and art. The course aims at studying the causes, spread, impact and consequences of the plague. Since no historical event, or phenomenon, can be studied separately from its context, the Black Death will be examined in a larger context of the fourteenth-century crisis, comprising population pressure, the Great Famine (1315-21), Cattle Plague (1319-21), anti-Jewish violence, violent warfare and social unrest.
Topics covered will include:
European Society on the Eve of the Black Death (c.1300-1348)
The Origins and Nature of the Plague: ‘Traditionalist’ and ‘Alternative’ Views
The Spread of the Plague in Europe
The Demographic Impact of the Plague
The Economic Impact of the Plague (to be held at the Canterbury Cathedral Archives)
Nirenberg, David, Communities of Violence (Princeton, 1996)
Smith, Richard M., ‘Demographic Developments in Rural England, 1300-48: A Survey,’ in Bruce M.S. Campbell, ed., Before the Black Death: Studies in ‘Crisis’ of the Early Fourteenth Century (Manchester and New York, 1991), pp. 25-78
Ziegler, Philip, The Black Death (New York, 1969)
Learning and Teaching Methods, including the nature and number of contact hours and the total study hours which will be expected of students, and how these relate to achievement of the intended module learning outcomes
The module will be taught by eleven weekly two-hour seminars; in these seminars students will present regularly on their research findings as part of group and individual research tasks. In addition the module will include at least two field trips: one to visit Canterbury Cathedral Archives, and the other to a site that will give insights into the epidemiology of the Black Death and the ensuing depopulation of the countryside. A trip to the Museum of London may also be planned.
Achievement of module learning outcomes: Critical thinking and assessment will be achieved by (a) reading and discussing primary sources and (b) juxtaposing them against secondary literature
Source-material and data analysis will be achieved by the introduction of students to quantitative sources and methods, most notably (a) annual agricultural reports found in manorial accounts and (b) demographic records found in seasonal manorial court rolls
The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility will be achieved by the process of research for the final project, first in consultation with the instructor, later as an independent venture.
Collaborative team-work will be achieved by weekly class discussions and one team-assignment
12.5 Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations will be achieved by (a)a field-trip to a deserted village site; (b) reconciling some challenging statistical data with external sources
12.6 The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development will be achieved by the process of research for the final project, first in consultation with the instructor, later as an independent venture.
Assessment methods and how these relate to testing achievement of the intended module learning outcomes
This module will be assessed through a 5000 word essay developed in consultation with the convenor. The essay is expected to be based on both primary sources and secondary literature and to exhibit a good degree of creativity and originality, in terms and research content, argument and conclusions, in accordance with the intended module learning outcomes.
Implications for learning resources, including staff, library, IT and space
The module will be convened & taught by Dr Philip Slavin. It is expected that some recent material may have to be purchased for the library, but we note that the collection is already quite strong in the core texts required.
The School recognises and has embedded the expectations of current disability equality legislation, and supports students with a declared disability or special educational need in its teaching. Within this module we will make reasonable adjustments wherever necessary, including additional or substitute materials, teaching modes or assessment methods for students who have declared and discussed their learning support needs. Arrangements for students with declared disabilities will be made on an individual basis, in consultation with the University’s/Collaborative Partner’s (delete as applicable) disability/dyslexia support service, and specialist support will be provided where needed.