Debates on Plague: The Black Death and the Formation of Europe HIST4190

  • Academic Session: 2015-16
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will examine the Black Death and its consequences across a wide spectrum of questions-the character of the disease and epidemiology; economy and growth of towns; social conflict and changes in society and gender; art; literature; popular piety and the church; psychology and mentality--the ways Europeans combated their most fearsome invisible enemy, the plague.


15 lectures offered during the 10 week teaching period with 5 additional seminars offered at times to suit the History honours teaching timetable. This course is now not being offered in session 2011-12 but will be offered at a future date.

Requirements of Entry

Admission to honours in History

Excluded Courses





Coursework - class essay (2000 words approximately) - 20%

Examination duration - 120 mins - 70%

Coursework - seminar presentation - 6%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aims of the History honours programme, to which this course contributes, are:

6. to develop the intellectual interests and analytical skills you acquired during your first two years;

7. the opportunity to study previously unfamiliar methodological approaches, chronological periods and geographical areas by offering a wide and flexible choice of options;

8. the opportunity to develop skills in historical computing, as well as basic IT awareness;

9. to introduce complex historical debates and interpretations, to develop skills in interpreting primary sources where appropriate, and to inform these discussions with new ideas derived from lecturers' current research; and

10. to encourage the development of transferable skills by fostering individual initiative, personal choice, group discussion and, where appropriate, problem-solving team work.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to demonstrate the ability to:


■ understand aspects of the plague's transmission, signs, and symptoms from primary sources

■ Analyze the immediate, medium and long term effects of the plague on demography psychology, politics, and religion

■ Articulate the ways in which plague shaped European history, the extent to which it ended the Middle Ages and ushered in a new historical period

■ Engage with, and critically evaluate, the debates on plague from 'what was the disease?' to whether it was the underlying reason for the Reformation