HI5048 - Witches, Knights and Plague: Medieval Europe on Film

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about how medieval violence is depicted on film (such as Game of Thrones and Gladiator) and how far it accurately reflects or the realities of life in the Middle Ages. It will also explore how twentieth-century governments (including Stalin) have used depictions of medieval warfare for political purposes.
The module moves on to explore how modern films have depicted relations between Muslims and Christians. We will examine movies such as Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to explore how films have stereotyped Muslims to arouse either hostility or sympathy. It will also examine how recent films about the Crusades have dealt with Christian-Muslim relations in the aftermath of 9/11, as well as the ways in which medieval religious intolerance has been represented in films such as The Da Vinci Code and how historians have responded to these depictions.
The final part of the module explores how filmmakers have portrayed gender on film. In particular, women are frequently depicted in highly sexualised ways in films and TV programmes which draw on medieval imagery. We will also explore how modern ideas about medieval women are represented in films about witchcraft (The Black Death and The Seventh Seal), as well as exploring how filmmakers depict medieval women who transcended their gender such as Joan of Arc who led armies into battle (Joan of Arc: The Messenger).

How will I learn on this module?

By attending lectures, participating in seminars and watching films, you will learn how depictions of medieval violence, gender and race deal with the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by watching the recommended films and reading accompanying texts. You will build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. All reading materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLP (Blackboard) to enable participation within the seminar programme. We will watch key scenes from films in class and the full programmes and movies will be available in the library. You will participate in formative assessment activities and receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment matches your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutors, and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised office hours and via email. Your peers will provide you will a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of how the Middle Ages have been represented on film.
2. An understanding of the major developments, theories and concepts in the depictions of medieval violence, gender and race on film.
3. An appreciation of the ways in which the political, cultural and religious values of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have shaped the depictions of medieval men and women on film.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Display The transferable skills, of analysis, interpretation and citation in written form and communication skills in presenting ideas and knowledge to others in written form.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate an awareness of historical and contemporary relationships and how these relations shape our perceptions.

How will I be assessed?

Your knowledge and ability to analyse and critically discuss films about the Middle Ages will be tested in two 2,500 word essays, which will span the breadth of the modules’ coverage.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code V100

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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