BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
From Catastrophe to Crusade: Europe in the Aftermath of the Vikings

Unit code HIST21141
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course begins with and challenges the received picture of a Viking depredation and Christian reaction. It looks at growth in the tenth century, which sees the rise of Western Europe's cultural self-confidence, culminating in the expansion of Latin Christendom eastwards in the First Crusade. The culture of Europe at the beginning of the High Medieval period and its gendered patterning will be assessed.



HIST21141 is restricted to History programmes, History joint honours programmes, Classics and Ancient History programmes, and Euro Studies (please check your programme regulations for further details).

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas; and CLAH-owned programmes. Available to students on an Erasmus programme, subject to VSO approval.


To enable students to understand how Europe changed over the course of the period 800-1100. They will be led to

  • To enable students to understand how Europe changed over the course of the period 800-1100.
  • To understand how historians have constructed conflicting versions of historical change.
  • To analyse processes of historical change in the light of contemporary source materials.
  • To prepare students for further specialization in medieval history at level 3.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you should be able to:


Indicative Course Structure:

  1. Europe in the Ninth Century: Franks, Vikings, and Anglo-Saxons
  2. The Tenth Century: Continental Collapse and English Renewal
  3. The Revival of Religious Life
  4. Warlords on the Continent and the Return of the Vikings in England
  5. The Rise of the Normans and Dynastic Change
  6. Economic Growth and Cultural Dynamism
  7. The Gregorian Watershed
  8. From Piety to Fanaticism: the Genesis of Crusade
  9. Europe and the Middle East
  10. The Flowering of Europe

Teaching and learning methods

2 x 1 hour lectures, 1 x 1 hour seminar and 1 x course unit office hour per week

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand how Europe changed in this period.
  • Understand why historians have differed in their interpretation of the Viking impact and its aftermath
  • Understand how Europe recovered and how a rising tide of religious enthusiasm and increasing economic activity led to a violent encounter between Latin Christendom and Islam known as the Crusades.

Intellectual skills

  • Evaluate different historical and historiographical viewpoints.
  • Read, interpret, and analyse a range of primary source materials.
  • Know how to approach the unfamiliar in order to further understand cultural difference.


Practical skills

  • Essay writing
  • Formulate written argument under time constraints.
  • Autonomous research
  • Search for and retrieve information from a variety of sources.
  • Harmonize material of different genres and from different cultural backgrounds


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Work collaboratively as part of a team
  • Present arguments and interpretations in written and oral presentations
  • Organise and present information clearly and concisely
  • Empathize with the unfamiliar and appreciate cultures far removed from modern forms
  • Critical thinking and analysis

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical thinking and analysis
Group/team working
Collaboration in team settings
Acting autonomously and take leadership and responsibility (through independent learning, seminar preparation and contribution, assessment activities)
Oral communication
Convey complex ideas concisely via written and verbal communication skills
Data handling
Written communication
Convey complex ideas concisely via written and verbal communication skills

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%

Feedback methods

Oral feedback on group discussions and presentations - formative

Written feedback on coursework submissions via Turnitin and on exam papers in hard copy - summative

Additional one-to-one feedback (during office hour or by appointment) - formative


Recommended reading

  • E. van Houts, The Normans in Europe (Manchester, 2000)
  • Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge, trans., Alfred the Great. Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources (Harmondsworth, 1983).
  • R. I. Moore, The First European Revolution, c. 970–1215 (Oxford, 2000).
  • Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (London, 2009).
  • R. W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (London, 1993).
  • R. Barlett, The Making of Europe (London, 1993)
  • Pauline Stafford, Unification and Conquest. A Political and Social History of England in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries (London, 1989).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Charles Insley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment Methods

Source Analysis, summative, 1500 words, 20%

Essay, summative, 2000 words, 40%

Exam, summative, 2 hours, 40%

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