In the year 600, the peoples who came to be known as ‘the Anglo-Saxons’ were ethnically diverse, politically fragmented and largely pagan; by 750 they had emerged as one of the major cultures of postRoman Europe, with towns, a complex economy and a network of richly-endowed churches. The fusion of Germanic, Celtic and Mediterranean traditions produced a material culture of astonishing richness and originality, including such internationally famous works as the Sutton Hoo grave goods, the Ruthwell and Bewcastle crosses and the Lindisfarne Gospels. This is currently one of the liveliest areas of medieval history, as old discoveries are reassessed, and new ones (especially in the areas of economy and settlement) overturn accepted views. This course will afford students the exciting opportunity to trace the remarkable growth of English society and culture in response to external stimuli. This is the only paper in the Modern History School devoted to archaeology, and archaeology is defined in the widest sense, to include illuminated manuscripts, precious objects, coins, sculpture and buildings as well as sites and finds. Other Further Subjects are based on a selection of primary texts, which undergraduates study with the help of secondary works. With this subject the sites and artefacts themselves are ‘primary’, but to make them available in print inevitably involves a process of selection and interpretation; at the same time, ‘primary’ material (unavailable elsewhere) can be embedded in analytical and essentially secondary works. Thus the normal distinction between primary and secondary literature cannot be drawn so clearly, and the subject-matter covers a spectrum from the primary (e.g. photographs and excavation reports) to the secondary (e.g. interpretative books and articles). A series of specific sites, structures and objects are prescribed for detailed study (and discussion in ‘Part A’ questions), but the bibliography also contains a range of other ‘primary’ material which illuminates the wider context, and which is revised from year to year as new discoveries are made. Mastering the art of using physical evidence, and of reading and criticising excavation reports, involves some initial intellectual effort but is highly rewarding. A selection of (very brief) extracts from contemporary written sources (amounting to some 5000 words) has also been set.
Further Subjects will normally be studied by candidates in History in the second year.
The Further Subjects are designed to extend and deepen students' knowledge of particular subject areas, topics and themes in British and General History. They are document- and text-based, requiring students to engage with the range of primary material relevant to the subject, to elucidate its significance and to relate it to the scholarly literature. There are over thirty Further Subjects to choose from, ranging geographically across the globe, and conceptually from archaeology to political and social thought. They enable students to study subjects in which members of the Faculty are themselves actively engaged in research. Although it is by no means obligatory, many students do study a Further Subject related to one or more of their British or General History papers in the Final Honour School: candidates in Finals are positively encouraged to relate, where appropriate, knowledge gained from their Further Subject to questions set in their outline papers or in Disciplines of History.
Further Subjects are usually taught in a combination of tutorials and university classes. The classes provide an invaluable opportunity to learn the skills of working effectively in a group.
Further Subjects are examined in a single paper in the Final Honour School, in which students answer three essay questions, illustrating their answers by reference to the prescribed texts.
The Further subjects currently available are: