Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Adolescence in Medieval Europe (HIST10485)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHistorians can be guilty of ignoring or underestimating young people in the past, but this course centres the experiences of adolescents across medieval Europe, c.1000-c.1300. Religious, social, economic and political changes over these centuries impressed themselves with particular strength on young men and women. This module helps students to examine definitions and concepts of medieval adolescence and to assess the factors shaping young people's experiences, from gender, family and social status to work, religion and education.
Course description The historical study of adolescence is a relatively new field. Since the 1960s, medievalists have challenged the claim that a concept of adolescence emerged only in the eighteenth century, often turning to insights from other disciplines to help overturn many previous assumptions. This course explores both ideas and realties of adolescence in Europe between c.1000 and c.1300. By engaging with historical concepts such as life cycle, gender, masculinity, and identity, students will hone transferable skills in summarising and contextualising complex ideas and arguments. The course also supports students to compare evidence from a diverse range of primary sources and develop their written and oral communication skills.

The first half of the course considers different challenges the historian faces when studying adolescence, including problems of definition, gendered assumptions, and the prejudices of source material. Medieval writers overwhelmingly presented adolescence as masculine, but many young women experienced a similarly liminal phase between childhood and adulthood. The second half of the module turns to tailored case studies across different settings to evaluate whether, and how, experiences of adolescence differed. Wider developments across the period touched the lives of young men and women in the form of increasing legal and social regulation and changes to rites of passage. Expanding urban environments, schools and universities drew groups of youths into ever closer contact, and often conflict. Many young people faced similar expectations and pressures even if their paths to adulthood were different within specific monastic, courtly, knightly, educational and working environments. But did all young people experience this distinct life cycle phase? And was there anything universal about adolescent experience in medieval Europe?

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: sexual violence, rape, castration, suicide, eating disorders, antisemitism, child abuse, corporal punishment, bullying and physical harassment. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Two 2,500 word essays (40% each)

Non-written skills:
Class participation, including oral presentation (20%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate command of the history of adolescence and of young people's experiences across medieval Europe;
  2. Demonstrate an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. Demonstrate an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. Demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
- Children and Youth in Pre-Modern Scotland, eds. Janay Nugent and Elizabeth Ewan (2015)
- Georges Duby, 'In northwestern France: the "youth" in twelfth-century aristocratic society', in Lordship and Community in Medieval Europe: Selected Readings, ed. Fredric L. Cheyette (New York, 1968), pp. 198-209
- Phyllis Gaffney, Constructions of Childhood and Youth in Old French Narrative (Burlington, VT, 2011)
- Generations in the Cloister: Youth and Age in Medieval Religious Life / Generationen im Kloster: Jugend und Alter in der mittelalterlichen vita religiosa, eds. S. Heusinger and A. Kehnel, Vita regularis. Abhandlungen 36 (M√ľnster, 2008)
- Eve Krakowski, Coming of Age in Medieval Egypt: Female Adolescence, Jewish Law, and Ordinary Culture (2018)
- Medieval Lifecycles: Continuity and Change, eds. Karen Smyth and Isabelle Cochelin (Turnhout, 2013)
- Kim Philipps, Medieval Maidens: Young Women and Gender in Medieval England: 1270-1540 (Manchester, 2003)
- Fiona Harris Stoertz, 'Adolescence and authority in medieval monasticism', in The Growth of Authority in the Medieval West, eds. Martin Grosman, Arjo Vanderjagt and Jan Veenstra (Groningen, 1999), pp. 119-40
- The Premodern Teenager: Youth in Society, 1150-1650, ed. Konrad Eisenbichler (Toronto, 2002)
- Deborah Youngs, The Life Cycle in Western Europe, c.1300-c.1500 (Manchester, 2006)
- Youth and Age in the Medieval North, ed. S. Lewis-Simpson (Leiden/Boston, 2008)
- Youth in the Middle Ages, eds. P. J. P. Goldberg and Felicity Riddy (Rochester, 2004)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will gain the following skills:

- Expanding knowledge and understanding (through an appreciation of key developments and historiographical debates in the study of adolescence, including an awareness of relevant interdisciplinary trends)
- Developing intellectual skills (by reflecting critically on the various merits and weaknesses of different methodologies for interpreting adolescence in the past and by contextualising key concepts)
- Honing practical expertise such as effective communication (though contributing to group discussions and oral presentation) and research skills (through designing and producing two pieces of written work responding to different questions)
- Other transferable skills such as the critical analysis of diverse evidence and arguments
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Emily Ward
Tel: (0131 6)50 6693
Course secretaryMrs Ksenia Gorlatova
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information