Animals and History, c. 1300 - c. 1600 HIST4301

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • 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

Short Description

This course explores relationships between humans and animals in late medieval and Renaissance Europe and their global context. It examines creatures domestic, wild and imaginary - from pets to exotic menagerie beasts, from vermin to hunt animals, from livestock to mermaids and werewolves. Students engage with the cutting edge of the emergent, interdisciplinary field of historical animal studies and with a range of sources, methods, and approaches to understanding interspecies interactions, reflecting on the historian's task, and asking questions about the human relationship with the natural world that continue to have resonance today.


10x2 hr seminars per week 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





Course essay - 3,000 words - 60%

Report - 1,500 words - 30% - identifying and commenting on source material (including non-textual sources) from the period.

Oral Assessment (Seminar Contribution) - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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:


■ Introduce students to the emergent field of historical animal studies in relation to the period c. 1300 - c.1600.

■ Investigate a range of attitudes and behaviours towards animals in the period and to reflect on variation across time and place, including reflection on modern practices.

■ Examine different kinds of evidence - e.g. textual, visual - of relationships of humans and animals in the past. 

■ Assess methods and approaches employed in historical animal studies and to engage with theories and concepts across disciplines.

■ Develop skills in source criticism through analysis of seminar materials and in course assessment.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Identify, contextualise and analyse diverse attitudes and behaviours towards animals in late medieval and Renaissance Europe and their global context, and make connections and comparisons to the present.

■ Critique a range of evidence of historical interspecies interactions, and methods and approaches used to study the subject.

■ Evaluate the fast-growing literature in historical animal studies, including readings across disciplines.

■ Present a critical argument in written work and oral seminar contributions, making use of a range of substantiating evidence, and engage with the contributions of peers.

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.