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Unit Overview


In the period 1100 to 1500, Europe underwent many startling historical developments. Institutions that we now take for granted—nations, universities, marriage structures, parliaments—either appeared for the first time or underwent radical change. New inventions such as print technology arguably transformed cultures and societies. New contacts were made with areas and cultures outside Europe—first with the Crusades, and then with the beginnings of European exploration and exploitation of the Americas and India. The period included a major demographic disaster—the Black Death—in which up to 50 per cent of the population may have died in one epidemic alone. What caused these changes, and what their effects were, remain subjects of intense historical dispute.

This unit centres around a series of important historical debates. Among them are—Are the Crusades best characterised as 'Holy Wars' or territorial expansionism? Was there such a phenomenon as the 'Twelfth-century Renaissance', and if so, what kind of 'renaissance' was it? Did the thirteen century see the birth of a 'persecuting society'? What were the social, political and cultural effects of the Black Death, and how do we determine them? Did the relative status and power of women and men change over the period 1100 to 1500, and if so why? Was the sixteenth-century religious Reformation brought about because the late medieval church had failed, or because it had succeeded too well?

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) describe and assess the basic historiographical issues characteristic of the discipline of History by beginning to identify different schools of historical writing about medieval Europe; (2) identify and evaluate the historiographical problems posed by the study and interpretation of medieval society and culture; (3) demonstrate a detailed understanding of medieval European history from 1100 to 1500 by explaining major trends in the period and analytically describing the cultural contexts of primary sources; (4) locate and critically assess appropriate sources for research essays; and (5) present arguments in both written and oral assessments using the conventions of the historical discipline.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) weekly online quiz on assigned readings and content of lectures; (2) participation in tutorials/workshops including presentation and a 500-word report; and (3) a 3000-word essay with critical bibliography. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Robert Stuart
Unit rules
a Level 1 History unit
or EURO1101 Europe Now: Cultures and Identities
or GEND1901 Gender in Australia
HIST1111 Medieval Europe c.750–1250.
HIST2206 Later Medieval England 1272–1485.
HIST2208 The Crusades.
HIST3304 Medieval England 871–1272.
HIST3306 Later Medieval England 1272–1485.
HIST3307 The Renaissance in Europe c.1300–1520.
HIST3308 The Crusades.
HIST3387 Castles, Cathedrals, Markets and Rituals
Contact hours
3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.