Study abroad in Edinburgh

Course finder

Semester 1

Popular Religion, Women and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (DIVI08013)







Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students must have passed at least 1 introductory level Divinity/Religious Studies course at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

Course Summary

An examination of key aspects of popular religion, culture and elite control during the early modern period in Europe.

Course Description

Academic Description: The course will examine key aspects of popular religious culture during the early modern period in Europe which witnessed the transformation of religious life associated with the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. It will deal specifically with religious ideas and devotional practices at a popular level and the changes introduced by both Protestant and Catholic reformers. As part of the spectrum of belief it will examine ideas concerning magic and witchcraft and it will include a study of the witch hunting which swept through Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Throughout the course particular attention will be given to the role of women in churches and society and how they were affected by the religious upheavals of the period. As this course is concerned with a largely non-literate culture it will make extensive use of visual evidence. Syllabus/Outline Content:The course will apply historical approaches to popular culture and belief with a strong emphasis on skills for assessing historical evidence. Themes studied will include: what ordinary people may have believed before and after the Protestant and Catholic reformations; the religious roles open to women; the beliefs of Early Modern people about healing and magic; and the explanations that have been offered for early modern witch hunting. Students will become familiar with the work of key historians in the field and also engage with visual sources each week through the use of primary material accessed via digital collections. Student Learning Experience Information: The course has two lectures and one tutorial each week. Each week is structured to follow the same pattern of learning, research and discussion. Lecture themes will be introduced using online audio/visual formats, these will be available for self-paced study and will set the scene for the topics covered. Mid-week there will be an opportunity for real-time online interaction with the lecturer and students will also be reading for their tutorial and posting on Learn for 'Image of the Week'. Each week will conclude with live discussion in a tutorial group. In 'Image of the Week' students will be reviewing a collection of images (visual primary sources). They will each choose one image and assess the ways in which that source reflects the themes of the week. They will then write a short post on Learn arguing why their choice merits the title 'Image of the Week'. Tutorial groups will debate the issues emerging from these posts each week. Students will also be responsible for leading the discussion of the set reading for their tutorial group for one week in the semester and for participating in all discussions. During the semester the Compare and Review task will allow students to delve more deeply into an area by asking them to contrast and evaluate two short readings on a topic. The semester concludes with a research essay chosen from the list of possible questions. Individual essay planning/advice sessions with the course organiser will be available. Students will demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes through the assessed weekly posts on Learn, a Compare and Review task (1000 words) and a final essay (2000 words).

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

view the timetable and further details for this course


All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer