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Unit Overview


A sound and wide-ranging understanding of the fundamental world views and ways of thought of the European Middle Ages and early modern period is essential to students undertaking advanced (Level 3) study of medieval and early modern history, literature, art, society and culture. This unit introduces students to a diversity of medieval and early modern world views, as manifested primarily in the religious cultures and epistemologies of pre-modern Europe. Studying this unit deepens students' essential knowledge base in medieval and early modern studies (MEMS) through analysis of the beliefs, cosmologies, and epistemologies of Catholic, Protestant, heretical, Jewish and Muslim cultures. It enables students to comprehend how medieval and early modern Europeans understood themselves as gendered individuals, and how their world views in turn, underpinned the development of particular political, social, cultural and gender structures. As a Level 2 core unit in the MEMS major sequence, the unit also aims to introduce students to the notion of interdisciplinarity at the heart of medieval and early modern scholarship by applying the insights of major disciplines (including gender theory) to these sources and problems to create exciting new interpretations. Students develop the ability to locate appropriate sources independently, and to read and interpret them in support of an argument, contextualising their interpretations within existing scholarship, theories and methodologies. The unit equips Level 3 MEMS major students with the appropriate theoretical skills to undertake advanced study in MEMS.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) describe and analyse the fundamental world views, modes of knowledge, and related social and cultural behaviours of the medieval and early modern period, in particular Catholic, Protestant, heretical, Jewish and Muslim views, and their gendered, ethnic and social consequences; (2) locate appropriate sources independently; (3) read and interpret original source materials in support of an argument, contextualising their interpretation within existing scholarship, theories and methodologies; (4) display familiarity with the major disciplines that underpin study of medieval and early modern sources and their interpretation; (5) critically analyse the theoretical positions underpinning scholarship in the field; and (6) develop nuanced interpretations from independent research and analysis, using the appropriate discourse conventions of written and oral forms.


This comprises a class test (15 per cent); seminar participation (10 per cent); seminar group presentation (30 per cent); and a research essay (45 per cent).

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

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Jacqueline Van Gent
Unit rules
ENGL1001 Journeys: Texts across place and Time
or ENGL1114 Romance: Narratives of Imagination
or HIST1001 Old Worlds and New Empires
or HIST1101 Old Worlds and New Empires
or VISA1000 Great Moments in Art
or GEND1901 Days of our Lives: Gender in Australia
or GEND1902 Reading Bodies
Contact hours
lectures: 1 hr per week
workshops: 1 hr per week
tutorials: 1 hr per week

Unit Reader.
  • 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.