HST112: Paths from Antiquity to Modernity

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Dr Andrew Tompkins (2018-19) Professor Mary Vincent (2019-20)

Module Summary

Taking you from the height of the Roman Empire to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this module is an introduction to the dominant narrative of History, from a European perspective (though the module ventures widely beyond Europe when appropriate). Each lecture looks at a particular historical ‘turning point’, while the weekly seminar takes a more thematic approach, tackling historical notions such as revolutions, progress, globalisation and renaissance. By the end of the module, you’ll have a sense of the broad sweep of History, fascinating in itself but particularly useful for single and dual honours students as preparation for more detailed study at Levels II and III. You will also have an appreciation of the importance of periodisation (how historians divide up time), and the problematic concept of modernity. This module is explicitly intended to aid with the transition to the study of History at University.

Teaching and Assessment

There are three lectures and one seminar a week, attendance at all of which is compulsory. Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level1

Selected Reading

This module does not have a course textbook: no book currently in print provides quite the same overview as that of this course. However, here are some recommendations for books that you might find stimulating, and which bear some relation to the course’s major themes:

  • Norman Davies, Europe. A History (Oxford, 1996). Broad, learned: a little sedate.
  • Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: conquest, civilization and cultural change 950-1350 (Harmondsworth, 1994). Compelling.
  • Chris Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World (Oxford, 2004). A modern classic.
  • E. J. Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The short twentieth century, 1914-1991 (London, 1995) (his other books in the series are also good).

You may find a historical atlas useful, too. Further recommendations for reading will be made available in the course booklet.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students completing this module will have developed:

  • a fundamental understanding of the broad periodisation of European history from the end of Antiquity to the present and the rationale that it seeks to encapsulate;
  • a critical familiarity with key conceptual tools used by historians in analysing the past and to apply them in an appropriate historical context;
  • their ability to evaluate fundamental explanations commonly utilised by historians to explain the larger dimensions of change in European history;
  • a capacity to study the past outside a narrowly delimited period;
  • their ability to think constructively and critically about the interaction of social, political and cultural factors in patterns of historical change;
  • their ability to use on-line learning environments and to make best use of the facilities they afford for private study, course preparation and reinforcement;
  • their ability to use the library effectively to support their learning;
  • their ability to participate in informed debate with their peers on the basis of detailed analysis of a variety of materials;
  • their ability to write cogently and succinctly on defined topics;
  • their ability to write informed and cogent essays under pressure of time.