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Unit Overview


From the 8th to the 13th century, medieval Europe was shaped both culturally and geographically by contact and conflict with its neighbours. Scandinavian Vikings raided and traded with Europeans beginning in the late-8th century, but they also colonised and settled variously across the North Atlantic, including the British Isles, northern France, and the Ukraine. Christian crusaders looked south to the ‘Holy Land', and repeatedly attempted to seize land as well as political and religious power in the Mediterranean. While their military efforts were mostly in vain, their contact with the Arab world and the perceived threat of new attacks from it decidedly influenced all strata of European society. The 13th century witnessed new attacks from the Mongols, who traveled westward from the Asian Steppe to add to an unprecedented series of conquests. Yet histories of the period often marginalise the Vikings, Muslims, and Mongols, considering them only as raiders and interlopers in the ‘civilised' Latinate cultures of continental Europe. This unit refocuses medieval Europe by considering the ways in which conflict and contact with other cultures was crucial to development of European identity in the Middle Ages, while also studying those cultures Europeans came into contact with from their own perspective.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) assess the basic methodological issues characteristic of the discipline of History through the examples of the Vikings, Crusades, and Mongols; (2) evaluate the methodological problems posed by the study of non-European cultures and societies in the Middle Ages; (3) demonstrate a detailed understanding of the contact and conflicts Europeans had with their neighbours during the period ca. 800 to 1300 by (a) describing early medieval Scandinavian culture and its contacts with Europe; (b) describing the four major Crusades and their impact on European society; (c) describing the attempts by the Mongols to conquer central Europe, and how this shaped European views of Asia in the Middle Ages.; (4) analyse a range of different kinds of primary evidence for the history of the Vikings, Crusaders, and Mongols in Europe (e.g. textual, archaeological, artistic), using appropriate methodologies which demonstrate a high-level understanding of the genres in which medieval Europeans represented their world in relation to the 'Other'; (5) relate their independent interpretations to complex historiographical debates about the impact of Scandinavian trading, raiding and colonisation; the Crusades in the Mediterranean; and European contact and conflict with Mongols in the east; and (6) present advanced arguments in both written and oral assessments using the conventions of the historical discipline.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) primary source exercise; (2) essay; and (3) participation. 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 Jacqueline Van Gent
Unit rules
a Level 2 HIST unit
or EURO2201 European Civilisation
or GEND2902 Men and Masculinities in History
HIST2285 The Vikings.
HIST3385 The Vikings
Contact hours
Workshop - 2 hrs 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.