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Study information

The Age of AEthelred 'the Unready': Sources

Module titleThe Age of AEthelred 'the Unready': Sources
Module codeHIH3117
Academic year2022/3
Module staff
Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The reign of King Æthelred ‘the Unready’ (978-1016) was a turning point in English history. Although often seen as an age of decline and stagnation, it was also a dynamic period, witnessing the growth and development of governmental structures, the spread of monastic reform, and the production of important artistic and literary works. Elsewhere in Europe these decades saw the emergence of new kingdoms and national identities, the spread and development of church reform, the popularisation of pilgrimage, and the development of the Peace of God. It was also an age of great social and economic change: new practices of lordship emerged, trade expanded, and cities grew. This module seeks to use the reign of King Æthelred as a prism through which to view these developments, placing English experiences within their broader continental context.

The Context module will introduce you to events and developments in the ‘Age of Æthelred’, while the co-requisite Sources module will introduce you to a range of sources for the period.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will focus on the sources available for studying English and western European history in the age of Æthelred. It will use a range of sources, including chronicles, charters, law-codes, coins, sermons and archaeological finds. You will be expected to evaluate the reliability and value of these sources, as well as to explain their significance within the wider context of the subject. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Identify the different sources available for the study of the ‘Age of Æthelred’.
  • 2. Understand and explain the key political, social, cultural and economic developments in the ‘Age of Æthelred’
  • 3. Critically evaluate a diverse and complex range of sources relating to the ‘Age of Æthelred’

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible and sophisticated manner
  • 6. Comprehend complex historical texts

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/or 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:

  • England before Æthelred: From Alfred the Great to Edward the Martyr
  • The reign of King Æthelred: Weathering the Storm
  • Æthelred’s Legacy: A Kingdom Lost and Won
  • Æthelred’s Continental Counterparts: Contact, Comparison, Contrast
  • Themes in the ‘Age of Æthelred’

The introductory session will offer an overview for students who may have little background in this subject. The co-requisite module will provide background and context on developments in the reign of King Æthelred.

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 Teaching Activities 4422 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study256Reading and preparing for seminars, coursework and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course.1-6, 8Oral from tutor and fellow students.

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
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7, 9-10Oral and written feedback
Individual presentation3025 minutes1-8Oral and written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period
PresentationWritten transcript of 25 minute presentation (2,500 words)1-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 25 minutes of speech (2,500 words)

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

Introductory reading:

  • S. Keynes, The Diplomas of King Æthelred ‘the Unready’, 978–1016: A Study in their Use as Historical Evidence (Cambridge, 1980).
  • J. Robertson, ed. and trans., The Laws of the Kings of England from Edmund to Henry I (Cambridge, 1925)
  • D. Scragg, ed., The Battle of Maldon, AD 991 (Oxford, 1991).
  • D. Whitelock, ed., English Historical Documents c. 500–1042, 2nd edn (London, 1979).
  • D. Whitelock, M. Brett and C. N. L. Brooke, ed., Councils and qd Documents relating to the English Church, I, A.D. 871–1204 (Oxford, 1981).
  • P. Wormald, The Making of English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century, I, Legislation and its Limits (Oxford, 1999).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Æthelred, Peace of God, Governmental Reform, Monastic Reform, Lordship, Pilgrimage, Peace of God

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

At least 90 credits of History at Stage 1 (NQF Level Four) and/or Stage 2 (NQF Level Five).

Module co-requisites

HIH3118: The Age of Æthelred ‘the Unready’: Context.

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date