Medieval Landscapes, 400-1500

Module code: HS7128

Module Outline

The foundations of modern landscape and society were largely laid down as a result of significant reconfigurations in the middle ages. This module focuses on this period of intense and dynamic change during which both the physical and mental maps of England were redrawn. It shows how the landscape can be seen as a product of, and as a contributory factor in shaping, medieval society. Wide-ranging and interdisciplinary coverage includes settlement history, place-names, cartography, the literary landscape tradition, climate and weather, field systems, trees and woodland, elite display, ecclesiastical signatures, peasant perspectives, and medieval concepts of nature. On completion of the module you will be able to demonstrate an appreciation of the role landscape has to play in historical enquiry and will be equipped with skills which will enable you to ‘read’ these landscapes in the field.


The module is delivered in 10 x 3 hour sessions. Each session comprises an interactive lecture/seminar based around a power point presentation from the module co-ordinator, who invites questions, debate and discussion. Primary source material relevant to each session will be circulated in advance to enable students to prepare for these discussion. Each session will have its own dedicated reading list. An individual tutorial of up to one hour is offered to each student to supervise their research project. Themes broached in these sessions will be further examined and reinforced during two Saturday fieldschools: one fieldschool will visit East Leicestershire; the second will alternate every two years between Whittlewood (Northants/Bucks) and Southwell/Newark (Notts).


The map element to the module is assessed by a 2,500 word analysis in which students will be asked to describe and explain the evidence for medieval landscape change that can be read from a modern OS map. This is for 10 credits.

The research project, a piece of coursework limited to 5,000 words to be chosen by the student from a list of options in the module handbook and decided in consultation with the module co-ordinator.