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Study information

Europe 1650-1800: From Enlightenment to Romanticism

Module titleEurope 1650-1800: From Enlightenment to Romanticism
Module codeHIH2032A
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Alun Withey (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

By 1750 educated Europeans were commonly describing their century as an ‘age of reason’ or ‘enlightened epoch’ as interest in the sciences, philosophy and rational religious belief intensified. But the late 1700s also saw ‘Romanticism’ develop as a reaction against the cult of reason. Romanticism generated a new concern for the individual, an emphasis on emotion, and a glorification of nature and the past.

This module investigates key political, intellectual, and cultural changes between 1650-1800, assessing the impact of enlightened ideas upon social, cultural, religious and domestic spheres, including the family, gender, medicine, consumption, crime and slavery. Later it explores Romanticism, and its relationship with reason, as it was revealed in literature, music, art and architecture, and in the philosophy and experience of revolution.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to:

  • Draw on a range of primary source materials and case studies to explore the question of what was ‘enlightenment, who or what drove the new focus upon rationality and, importantly, who was it meant for? It encourages you to question the lived experience of ‘enlightenment’ across time and space, and also at different levels of society.
  • Critically analyse the impact of the Romantic movement; with its concern for the individual, as well as its contributions to nascent national movements, and consider how important it was as a reaction to enlightened ideals.
  • Develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material
  • Provide you with an opportunity to explore broadly the rich and fascinating ‘climate of ideas’ in early modern Europe, and helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key developments pertaining to the history of the enlightenment in 18th- and early 19th-century Europe.
  • 2. Summarise and evaluate different historiographical approaches to the study of the enlightenment in 18th-century and early 19th-century Europe.
  • 3. Critically evaluate the key political, social, cultural and economic trends relating to the history of the Enlightenment in 18th- and 19th-century Europe.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse the key developments in a defined historical subject.
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to understand and deploy complex historical terminology correctly.
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to handle different approaches to history in a contested area of historical study

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Select, organise and analyse material for written work and oral presentations of different prescribed lengths and formats.
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally.
  • 9. Present an argument in a written form in a clear and organised manner, with appropriate use of correct English
  • 10. Through essay development process, demonstrate ability to reflect critically on your own work, to respond constructively to feedback, and to implement suggestions and improve work on this basis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The Scientific Revolution
  • Defining ‘Enlightenment’
  • Religion in early modern Europe
  • Crime and punishment
  • Slavery
  • Gender
  • Consumption
  • Politeness and deportment
  • Public science
  • Medicine and the body
  • Romanticism and ‘place’
  • Science and industry in art
  • Travel and the ‘Grand Tour’

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching111 x 1-hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching2211 x 2-hour seminars
Guided independent study1111 x 1-hour workshops
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written assignment proposal1000 words1-7, 10 (written) or 1-8, 10 (oral)Oral and/or written, as appropriate

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Presentation3030 minute live, group presentation, + supporting materials; also evidenced by reflective coversheet (1 to 2 sides A4)1-8Written
Written Assignment703000 words1-7, 9-10 Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group Presentation750-word-equivalent recorded presentation with other materials as standard; if not possible, then 750-word script for presentation with other materials as standard1-8Referral/Deferral period
Written AssignmentWritten Assignment1-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 3000-word written assignment, as in the original assessment, but replaces participation in the group presentation with an individual presentation equivalent to an individual’s contribution, to be recorded and submitted with all supporting materials as for the original assessment; failing this, students should submit a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation (750 words)  along with all supporting materials as for the original assessment.

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • M. S. Anderson, Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 1713-1783 (Harlow: Longman, 2000)
  • T. Blanning, The Eighteenth Century (Oxford: OUP, 2000)
  • W. Doyle, The Old European Order, 1660-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)
  • D. Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • T. Munck, The Enlightenment: A Comparative Social History (London: Arnold, 2000)
  • R. Porter, Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World (London: Penguin, 2000)
  • H. M. Scott, The Birth of a Great Power System, 1740-1815 (Harlow: Pearson/Longman, 2006)
  • J. Van Horn Melton, The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Enlightenment: Romanticism: Reason

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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