Europe in the Early Middle Ages

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HIST 2203
Europe in the Early Middle Ages
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Class sections will be divided between lectures and seminar discussions. The seminar discussion sessions will serve as a forum for the analysis and discussion of scholarly literature and as a testing ground for student hypotheses. The instructor will encourage students to elaborate, refine and revise ideas. Discussion sessions will also include tutorials in conducting historical research, the exploration of primary source documents, and practice in oral presentations. Participation in both lectures and seminar discussions is required for the successful completion of the course.

Course Description
HIST 2203 explores the early medieval history of Europe, covering the period from the decline of Rome to the year 1100. Major themes include: the late Roman world and the transformation of the Roman empire; the early history of the Christian church and the evolution of monasticism; Celtic and Germanic worlds; the Byzantine empire; the rise of Islam; the Carolingians and the empire in the west; the Vikings, borderlands, migration, raids and invasion; the expansion of regional and trans-regional monarchies and the emergence of Papal leadership; the establishment of new forms of political, economic, social, cultural and religious organization; the transmission of learning and cultural revival; the visual arts, architecture, and material culture of the period.
Course Content

A sample course outline may include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Roman Empire and the Crisis of the Third Century
  3. The Transformation of the Late Roman Empire
  4. From Empire to Tribal Kingdoms
  5. Missionaries and Monasteries
  6. Mediterranean Worlds
  7. Empire in the West: The Carolingians
  8. The End of the World? Division, Invasion, Reorganization
  9. Manors, Farms and Fields
  10. Economic Revival: Towns, Trade and the Clash of Cultures
  11. Consolidation: Kings and Emperors
  12. Rulers, Renewals and Revivals
  13. Looking Forward, Looking Back
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:

  1. Locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).
  2. Constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history).
  3. Participating in active and informed historical debate independently and cooperatively through classroom discussion and presentation (discussing history).
  4. Independently and cooperatively investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history).


Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

Students will have opportunities to build and refine their research capacity and historical thinking skills through assessments appropriate to the level of the course. There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of midterm and final exams; research essays; primary document analysis assignments and essays; quizzes; map tests; in-class and online written assignments; seminar presentations; student assignment portfolios; group projects; creative projects; class participation.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:
Attendance, Participation, In-Class Work 15%
Seminar Presentation 15%
Primary document analyses 25%
Short analytic paper 10%
Research essay and presentation 20%
Final summative assignment 15%

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Course Readers may be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically.

An instructor’s custom Course Reader may be required. Additional online resources may also be assigned. Additional reading lists and links to specific resources also may be provided online or in the instructor’s course outline.

Backman, Clifford R. A Medieval Omnibus: Sources in Medieval European History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Backman, Clifford R. The Worlds of Medieval Europe. 3rd. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Rosenwein, Barbara H. A Short History of the Middle Ages. 5th ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

Rosenwein, Barbara H., ed. Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.





One 1000-level History course or permission of the instructor