HIST 2069 - Heresy and Witchcraft in Medieval Europe

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

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 witch craze 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
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate 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 witch craze 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:
    1 Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the history of medieval heresy and witchcraft and the ways in which historians have interpreted and explained this history.
    2 Identify and use effectively a wide variety of secondary sources relevant to the study of medieval heresy and witchcraft, and in particular to understand and critically evaluate the arguments of historians.
    3 Contextualise and interpret a wide variety of primary sources, including medieval texts, images and physical artfacts.
    4 Construct evidence-based arguments in which students engage with the key debates about the nature of medieval heresy and witchcraft.
    5 Communicate their own ideas about medieval heresy and witchcraft - both orally and in writing - in a manner that is clear and persuasive.
    6 Access and use effectively the range of relevant primary and secondary sources on medieval heresy and witchcraft that are available on-line.
    7 Develop and communicate their ideas about medieval heresy and witchcraft within the scholarly conventions of the discipline of history.
    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2, 3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 3, 4
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    4, 5
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Tutorial reading will be available via links in MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    There is no set textbook for this course. However, the following two books offer useful accounts of medieval heresy and the witch hunts and would be useful to purchase. They include topics covered in lectures, tutorials and assessment tasks.

    Levack, Brian P. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, 4th edn. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016.

    Roach, Andrew P. The Devil’s World: Heresy and Society 1100-1300. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013.
    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 audio-visual 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 Christian orthodoxy, miracles, conversion strategies, anti-Semitism, heresies (e.g. Catharism, Waldensianism, intellectual heresies), deviancy, emotions, witchcraft and demonic possession.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Students will work in small groups of 4-6 students in tutorials to evaluate primary and secondary sources and tutorial topics. They will work together on assessments, including tutorial quizzes and a group research assessment task.
  • 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
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Tutorial Quizzes Summative

    Weeks 2, 4, 8

    10% 1, 2, 3
    Research Essay Formative & Summative Week 6 40% 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Group Assessment Formative &
    Week 10 20% 2, 3, 5, 6
    Take-Home Test Formative & Summative Week 12 30% 1, 4, 5, 7
    Assessable tasks in this course include an essay, quizzes, a group assignment and a take-home test.

    Due to the current COVID-19 situation modified arrangements have been made to assessments to facilitate remote learning and teaching. Assessment details provided here reflect recent updates.

    The tutorial Quizzes in weeks 4 and 8 will be replaced with online multiple choice quizzes. The assessment will still be based upon students best two of the three quiz grades (weeks 2, 4, 8).

    The Essay will remain the same, although students have been granted a one-week extension on the due date. It is now due on 22 April 2020.

    The Group Assessment remains but students have the option to:
    a) work on it in their tutorial group (using collaborative tools in MyUni), or
    b) choose to do it with a friend or friends who are doing the course, or
    c) complete it as an individual assessment.

    The Take-Home Test will be conducted as originally explained - it was always intended to be completed online.
    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). 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 one week of the due date, unless students have been granted a formal extension (MACA).

    Assessment Detail
    Assessment tasks are are designed to engage students in individual and collective evaluation of the sources for heresy and witchcraft, and the scholarly debates on these subjects. They will also encourage students to apply their knowledge in written and oral assessment tasks which foster critical thinking and collaboration with other students.
    Written assignments must be submitted to the Online Submission point on MyUni on the due date. Please keep note of submission receipts 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 marks per day that the essay is overdue, including weekends, for a maximum of one week. Unless special arrangements have been made, essays more than one week late, will not be accepted, and will automatically be eligible for a 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 Humanities 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.
  • 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.