Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Power, Holiness and Reform: The Papacy 1049-1215 HIST4104

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The Papacy is central to the history of the High Middle Ages with enormous ideological, political, religious and social influence in every country and community in western Europe. This course will look at its most dynamic and controversial period.


15x1hr lectures, 5x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses





Exam (2 hour duration) - 60%

Essay (2,000 words) - 30%

Seminar presentation -6% seminar contribution 4%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ develop the intellectual and analytical skills acquired by students during their first two years;

■ Offer the opportunity to study previously unfamiliar methodological approaches,

chronological periods and geographical areas by offering a wide and flexible choice of options;

■ Develop skills in historical computing, as well as basic IT awareness;

■ Introduce complex historical debates and interpretations, to develop skill in interpreting primary sources where appropriate, and to inform these discussions with new ideas derived from lecturers' current research;

■ 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:

■ Explore and evaluate the political, ideological and religious history, influence and significance of the Papacy in this period.

■ Assess the nature of papal power and monarchy and how far it was similar to or different from other contemporary forms of the same.

■ Assess the significance of ideology and religion and their complex interrelationship with politics in the history of the High Middle Ages.

■ Have examined and be able to assess the primary source material (in translation) from the period with regard to its usefulness in reconstructing papal history and the extent to which it is biased, rhetorical and relates to society.

■ Evaluate the historiography of the subject on the basis of extensive secondary and some primary source material and come to his/her own conclusions.

■ Explain through a written essay, an oral presentation and an examination an understanding of the arguments and evidence relating to the subject.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.