HIST 2069 - Heresy and Witchcraft in Medieval Europe

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

This course explores belief and deviancy in medieval Europe. After identifying religious and cultural orthodoxy, it embarks upon an analysis of dissent. Divergence from sanctioned ideology and ritual ranged from the spiritual and social challenge of medieval heresies, through popular beliefs in the magical powers of people and objects, to the witchcraze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Using a wide variety of original documents and historical interpretations, the course aims to understand and explain conflicting belief systems and the rise of intolerance in the pre-modern world.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code HIST 2069
    Course Heresy and Witchcraft in Medieval Europe
    Coordinating Unit History
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites 12 units of Level I study
    Incompatible HIST 2033 or HIST 3033
    Course Description This course explores belief and deviancy in medieval Europe. After identifying religious and cultural orthodoxy, it embarks upon an analysis of dissent. Divergence from sanctioned ideology and ritual ranged from the spiritual and social challenge of medieval heresies, through popular beliefs in the magical powers of people and objects, to the witchcraze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Using a wide variety of original documents and historical interpretations, the course aims to understand and explain conflicting belief systems and the rise of intolerance in the pre-modern world.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Claire Walker

    Office: Napier 312
    Email: claire.i.walker@adelaide.edu.au
    Telephone: 83135159
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Each week you will have one 2-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On Successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:
    1 Understanding of a broad body of historical knowledge ranging over time, space and cultures.
    2 Ability to identify and access a wide variety of relevant primary, secondary, textual and visual materials.
    3 Ability to evaluate and generate ideas and to construct evidence-based arguments in various formats in a planned and timely manner.
    4 Ability to communicate effectively within the discipline of history and in related professional contexts.
    5 A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies.
    6 Commitment to an academically rigorous approach to learning including intellectual honesty and respect.
    7 Capacity to examine historical issues according to the scholarly and ethical conventions of the discipline of history.
    8 Develop a reflective and objective professional approach that rigorously questions assumptions and is informed by evidence and a sophisticated use of information.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2, 3, 5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 4
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 5, 6
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 5, 6, 8
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 7, 8
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 7, 8
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    A Course Reader, containing the texts that need to be read prior to each tutorial discussion, will be available for purchase at the start of the course from the Image and Copy Centre.
    Recommended Resources
    There is no textbook for this course. The following two books offer useful accounts of medieval heresy and the witch hunts and would be useful to purchase:

    Roach, Andrew P. The Devil’s World: Heresy and Society 1100-1300. Harlow: Pearson, 2005.
    Thurston, Robert. The Witch Hunts: A History of the Witch Persecutions in Europe and North America. Harlow: Pearson: 2007.
    Online Learning
    The course has a website, accessible through MyUni. Please consult it regularly for updates, lecture recordings, powerpoint slides, and additional resources.

    The University has access to a number of academic journals that have full text articles available online. Use Academic OneFile , Academic Search Premier , Project Muse and JSTOR databases (on the Library’s catalogue, Library Search) to locate articles in these journals.

    Librarians at the Barr-Smith library have also compiled a very useful guide to sources for medieval and early modern history, particularly relating to heresy and witchcraft held by the University. This can be accessed online at: http://libguides.adelaide.edu.au/hist2069
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Face-to-face teaching on campus consisting of two lectures and one tutorial per week. 

    The two-hour lecture will combine the traditional lecture format with the use of a-v material, and will provide the broader context for the tutorial topics.

    Tutorials will examine a specific topic. Students will prepare by completing the set reading and in-class activities will explore the significance of the topic via discussions, debates and role playing.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students will need to devote approximately 13 hours per week to this course (divided over 12 weeks of study). This consists of 2 x 1-hour lectures and one tutorial per week, and 10 hours per week of independent study, during which time students will prepare for tutorials and work on assignments.

    This course is designed on the assumption that all learning and assessment activities (including lectures, tutorials, preparatory work, research and writing of assignments etc.) will require approximately 156 hours.

    Learning Activities Summary
    Lectures and tutorials might cover topics, such as gnosticism and early Christian heresy, miracles and magic, anti-Semitism, heresies (e.g. Catharism and Waldensianism), witchcraft and demonic possession.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Tutorial groups will grapple with the complexities and contradictions of medieval and early modern religious belief and unbelief, exploring specific instances and questions in their research and reading and during class activities and discussions.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessable tasks in this course include research exercises, an essay, quizzes and tutorial preparation and participation.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Participation in tutorials is a compulsory component of the course. Students must attend at least 80% of tutorials to pass (unless a medical certificate is provided or extra written-responses to the tutorial questions are submitted to the course Discussion Board on MyUni). Please inform your tutor prior to the tutorial if you are unable to attend. It may be possible to ‘make-up’ a tutorial at another time.

    All assessment items must be submitted within two weeks of the due date. Assignments submitted after this are subject to be marked either at a pass or fail grade, unless students have been granted a formal extension.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment tasks are cummulative. Students discuss their essay topics in tutorials, the reseach exercise focuses on locating primary and secondary sources for their essay and evaluating them, the essay is grounded in this research and the interpretations discovered in secondary sources, quizzes test the overall general knowledge of the people, events, ideas and historical explanations.
    Written assignments must be submitted to the Online Submission point on MyUni by 23:59 on the due date. An identical electronic copy must also be submitted to Turnitin. Please keep note of submission receipts for both as proof of submission.

    Extensions will be granted on the grounds of hardship or illness. Students must apply through the official procedure (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/student/exams/mod_arrange.html) unless:
    1. the extension required is two days or less;
    2. the assessment is worth 20% or less;
    3. the student is registered with the Disability Office and has a Disability Access Plan.

     Students who submit an essay late, without having gained an extension, will be liable to a penalty of 2 per cent per day that the essay is overdue, including weekends, for a maximum of two weeks. Unless special arrangements have been made, essays more than two weeks late, may not be accepted, and will automatically be eligible for a pass or fail grade only.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    The School of History and Politics is committed to upholding the  University's Policy on Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S). All  staff and students have a legal responsibility to act in the interests  of themselves and others with respect to OH&S. For information on the School's contingency plan and emergency procedures, please see the OH&S section on the school website:

    http://www.hss.adelaide.edu.au/historypolitics/ohs )
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.