BA Ancient History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Forging a New World: Europe c.1450-1750

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST10302
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course explores the history of early modern Europe during an unprecedented phase of transformation. European states expanded their global frontiers, discovered new worlds, experienced revolutions in politics, society and religion, and devised revolutionary new forms of knowledge and communication with the advent of the printing press and the scientific revolution. The course offers an introduction to all of these themes.


  • Students will be introduced to the significance of key events and developments in the early modern world including European voyages of discovery, encounters with new peoples and cultures, religious reformations, political transformations, and intellectual change.
  • The course aims to develop students’ understanding of the nature and consequences of these developments in a wide-ranging and comparative context. This will be achieved through detailed case studies outlined in the reading for each week and in the course assignments.

Knowledge and understanding

Manifest knowledge and understanding of:

  • The key events and developments that transformed early modern European and its relations with the wider world.
  • Historical definitions of ‘early modernity’.
  • The interaction of religious, political, economic and socio-cultural factors in shaping the lives and beliefs of early modern people.

Intellectual skills

  • Critical analysis of primary and secondary source materials.
  • Understanding, assessing and summarising historical debates and arguments.
  • Making connections between overarching historical explanations within early modern history and detailed case studies in a comparative context.

Practical skills

  • Strategic and critical reading.
  • Locating and analysing appropriate historical evidence.
  • Writing short focused analyses of primary sources.
  • Essay writing and the organisation of research into a coherent argument.
  • Enhanced verbal communication skills.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Time management.
  • Written and oral communication skills.
  • Teamwork skills developed through discussion with other students.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Oral communication
Written communication
Time management

Assessment methods

Source Analysis (Summative) 35%

Essay (Summative) 65%

Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on submitted assessments, given through Blackboard/TurnItIn (Summative)
  • Additional optional oral feedback on assessed work during scheduled office hours (Summative)

Recommended reading

Greengrass, Mark, Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648 (London, 2014)

Kümin, Beat (ed.), The European World 1500-1800: an introduction to Early Modern History (London, 2009)

Richards, John, The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World (Berkeley, 2003)

Rublack, Ulinka, Reformation Europe (Cambridge, 2005)

Sangha, Laura and Jonathan Willis (eds), Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources (London, 2016)

Te Brake, Wayne, Shaping History: Ordinary People in European Politics, 1500-1700 (Berkeley, 1998)

Wiesner-Hanks, Merry Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789 (Cambridge, 2006)

Walker, Garthine (ed.), Writing Early Modern History (London, 2005)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jack Sargeant Unit coordinator
Rachel Winchcombe Unit coordinator
Georg Christ Unit coordinator

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