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Aims and Assessment



This final year advanced optional module explores the impact and significance of religious developments in England in the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), with the aim of showing how they transformed society, culture and politics at both national and local levels. It was during these decades that England finally became a ‘Protestant country’, though the process was controversial and unstable, producing dissent and rebellion, as well as a fair degree of de facto pluralism and some qualified toleration of difference.


Students will be expected to engage with the legal, liturgical and doctrinal aspects of this transformation, but also to assess it as a process of cultural transition, involving accommodation and negotiation between rulers and ruled, and between neighbours. The recent historiography of the Elizabethan Reformation (and of its sub-fields like Puritanism and Catholicism) has been particularly lively and contentious, and as the module develops, students will increasingly familiarize themselves with this literature, and demonstrate a capacity to assess it critically.


Students will also be introduced to a range of different types of primary source - literary and polemical texts, administrative records of church and state, private letters and memoirs - which students will learn to interrogate and contextualize effectively. Students on the module will be able to deploy the skills and knowledge they are acquiring in the researching and writing of a dissertation linked to the themes of the module.

Intended learning outcomes for the module are:

  • a sound knowledge of the main events and themes of the Elizabethan Reformation
  • an understanding of historiographical developments and debates, and an ability critically to assess them
  • enhanced presentational and debating skills
  • confidence in the techniques of independent research and study, including the evaluation and deployment of primary source materials
  • use of information technology in research and learning


Teaching and Library


Seminars will be 2 hours in length, including a short break.

Reading lists are provided below, but please get in touch with me as a matter of urgency if you experience any difficulty getting hold of sufficient reading materials for seminars or essays. Items which I know to be available as e-books are marked [E] in the lists. There are direct links to these on the page for this module on the Library’s Talis Aspire system: see here, and look under 'My Lists'. To make sure there is maximum access to the reading materials, usual rules of courtesy and good sense apply. Return books to the library as soon as you’ve finished with them. Put journals back in their places on the shelf. Try to set up sharing networks with others in the seminar.





Assessment for the module will comprise four elements:


1) participation/engagement (10%). For further details on how this will be assessed, see here.


2) 1500 word essay (10%). This will be a problem-focused essay of the kind you will be familiar with from second-year modules. Most of the seminar discussion questions are suitable for essay titles, but you are free to choose your own title so long as it is agreed with me in advance. There are some additional essay titles here.


3) 3000 word essay (40%). This assignment will provide an opportunity to examine a topic in more depth, and possibly with a more defined and detailed focus. You will be expected to identify your own topic/title for this essay, but I will be available to discuss options with you individually. Some topics will lend themselves well to the use of primary sources, though this is not an absolute requirement.


4) Take home Exam (40%). You will have to choose two questions, one of which will be a gobbet (source analysis) question. (Past papers, which before 2022 followed a slightly different format, can be found here.)


There is the opportunity of attaching your final-year dissertation module to this module.


For assessment deadlines, see your Tabula profile. These are also mapped here on the departmental website. Note that the relevant model is 'Final Year Advanced Option 3'.