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

  • Academic Session: 2017-18
  • 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

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

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

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

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.