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Module Regulations

Aims and Objectives

This advanced option analyses the cultural, economic, political, social, and religious history of Venice and its empire from the late fourteenth to the late sixteenth century. It also sets developments in Venice against those in the princely courts of northern Italy. Whilst focusing on Italian states, the option also considers issues with a wider resonance. These issues include gender, charity, disease, violence, ritual, church reform, and cultural and economic change. The module makes use of an extensive range of primary sources. Living in Venice will familiarise students with the city and the module includes numerous site visits. The module draws on insights from neighbouring disciplines such as art history, anthropology, and economics.


1. Venice: City, Empire, Myth (I). Site visit: Torcello
2. Venice: City, Empire, Myth (II). Site visit: The Arsenale
3. Government. Site visits: The Doge’s Palace and the Museo Correr
4. The Material World. Site visits: Rialto and the Palladian Villas of Emo and Maser
5. Society. Site visits: From Campo San Polo to the Ponte dei Pugni and the Ghetto
6. Travel Week
7. Religion. Site visits: The Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco
8. Culture. Site visits: Piazza San Marco and the Accademia
9. The Princely Courts. Site visits: Mantua (The Ducal Palace and the Palazzo Te)

Expected Learning Outcomes
  • To evaluate and critique the cultural, economic, political, social, and religious history of Venice and its empire from the late fourteenth to the late sixteenth century.
  • To understand how the history of Venice can be accessed through a diverse range of textual, visual, and material sources, including the city of Venice itself and its former territories.
  • To analyse and compare different types of sources, and enhance their ability to develop a historical argument.
  • To engage with historiographical debates and think about the history and legacy of different historical concepts.
  • To encourage independent research, historiographical engagement, and the development of critical analysis.
  • Each week there are site visits, which are linked to the themes to be discussed in the seminar. NB Attendance of site visits is obligatory and students are expected to provide medical or other evidence to explain absence.
  • The weekly seminars usually take place on Thursdays and last two hours. Attendance of seminars is obligatory and students are expected to provide medical or other evidence to explain absence.
      Assessment and Examination

      Assessment for this module is as follows:

      • Oral participation/engagement in seminars (10%). Deadline Term 2, Week 11
      • 1500 word essay (10%). Deadline Term 2, week 4
      • 3000 word essay (40%). Deadline Term 2, week 8
      • 3000 word source-based essay (40%). Deadline Term 3, week 1

        On departmental deadlines, see here.

        For visiting students from Ca' Foscari, the module is an assessed unit with 1 x 1,000-word essay plan and 1 x 3,000 word essay.

        NB Students should check essay questions with their seminar tutor.

        NB Essays should focus on Venice or on the Venetian empire or on the courts of northern Italy.

        NB The third, source-based essay does not differ from a normal essay in the sense that it still needs to make an argument, and answer a question of some kind. What it asks you do, however, is to make more substantial use of primary sources than you might normally, to help develop your critical analysis of sources. This could either mean that you focus your analysis closely around a single source, or small group of related sources, and build an argument around the theme(s) they suggest. Or you could start with a topic/question you want to explore and then find a source/s to allow you to flesh out your argument about it. Either way, you need to show critical awareness of what the chosen sources can or cannot tell us, who/what they were created for, by whom etc. As with the 2nd year Research Project, the chosen sources can be written or visual (or musical!). They can be from Chambers and Pullan or other sources on the weekly reading lists, or another one of your choice, related to the themes of the module (check your chosen sources with one of us first).

        NB For the oral participation/engagement component, you need to fill in a short self-assessment form available here and upload it to Tabula. You should read the department's marking criteria and then give yourself a mark based on how you assess your own performance. We will adjust the mark if necessary and give feedback.

        Submission of Assessed Work

        For details of the submission of assessed work (including deadlines), click here. NB The History Department uses the MHRA style guide. Please ensure that you follow this carefully, especially for the presentation of footnotes and bibliography.

        Use of Reading in Italian

        There is no separate assessment of the use of reading in Italian. However, some of the key reading is in Italian and students are expected to engage with this as they are expected to engage with key reading in English.

        Travel Week

        No site visits and seminars will be held in Week 6. In this week, you are encouraged to travel in Italy. NB You are not allowed to use Travel Week to return to Britain.

        Returning to Britain

        Students may only return to Britain with the prior approval of the course director.

        Contact Details

        By the end of Week 1, all students must give the phone number of their flat and/or their mobile phone number and the name and phone number of their next of kin to Chiara.

        Staff Office Hours

        Staff office hours will be communicated to students in Week 1.

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