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Life, Love and Death in Early Modern England

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Life in early modern England followed much of the same pattern as life in the twenty-first century - people were born, grew up, many had children and got married, most worked and all eventually died.

However, while on first glance this seems familiar, on closer examination these same life stages and rituals were often experienced in ways which are different to our own. Attitudes to marriage and sexuality, for instance, were very different in the early modern period.

With a particular focus on gender, this course explores the life cycle in early modern England from birth to death through an examination of topics including childhood, marriage, work and old age.

This course is for anyone with an interest in history and the enthusiasm to take that interest further. It operates as part of the Exploring the Past pathway, and will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help you to study other courses in the pathway.

Learning and teaching

This course consists of six units divided into themes. Each unit comprises of 3-hour face-to-face sessions.

These sessions will include lectures, class discussions and group-work, source analysis activities and exercises to develop your academic skills.

There will also be an opportunity for learning outside of the classroom, facilitated by the university’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central.

Coursework and assessment

Students will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • a 500-word source analysis or article review
  • a 1000-word essay.

Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • David Cressy, Birth, marriage, and death: ritual, religion, and the life-cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford, 1997).
  • Anthony Fletcher, Gender, Sex and Subordination in England, 1500-1800 (New Haven and London, 1995).
  • Elizabeth Foyster, Manhood in Early Modern England: Honour, Sex and Marriage (London, 1999).
  • Merry Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (second edition) (Cambridge, 2000).
  • Keith Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680 (London, 2003).

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.