Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

BA History and French / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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


A long-standing historiographical narrative presents a model of a Europe which moved from the brink of collapse in c.900 to a transformed and expansive society by c.1100. But is this trajectory so straightforward? Certainly, Europe was prey to invasions from Vikings and other groups in c.900, and some medieval commentators framed this within a climate of religiously-enthused doom. Likewise, by c.1100, Latin Christian Europe was clearly expanding its frontiers at the expense of the Eastern Christian and the Islamic worlds, and was also undergoing significant cultural shifts. Across the course, we will explore and question the apparent transformation of Europe, asking how far was it really on the verge of catastrophe; to what extent and why did the region experience significant transitions from the tenth to the twelfth century; and how did this generate such diverse outcomes as the crusading movement and an apparent cultural Renaissance within Europe itself.


HIST21141 is restricted to History programmes, History joint honours programmes and Classics and Ancient History programmes. (please check your programme structures 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.
  • 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.


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 critically analytical interpretation
  • 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 verbal forms
  • 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

Students can expect to develop an important set of skills which will be highly valued in the workplace: ¿ Convey complex ideas concisely via written and verbal communication skills ¿ Collaboration in team settings ¿ Acting autonomously and take leadership and responsibility (through independent learning, seminar preparation and contribution, assessment activities) ¿ Critical thinking and analysis ¿ Data handling

Assessment methods

Seminar Exercises 0
Source analysis  35
Essay 65


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback in seminar discussions and also via communication through online discussion boards


Written feedback on coursework submissions via Turnitin 


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



Recommended reading

  • Elisabeth  van Houts, The Normans in Europe (Manchester, 2000)
  • Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of Rus 750-1200 (London, 1996)
  • Nicholas Higham and Martin Ryan, The Anglo-Saxon World (New Haven, 2013)
  • R. I. Moore, The First European Revolution, c. 970–1215 (Oxford, 2000)
  • Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh, 1999)
  • Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (London, 2009)
  • Leonie Hicks, The Normans: A Short History (London, 2016)
  • Robert Bartlett, 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
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Charles Insley Unit coordinator

Return to course details