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Student and tutor module reviews

Exploring history: medieval to modern 1400-1900

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A200
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

This module is an abundance of historical knowledge. It commences with France, England and Burgundy in the fifteenth century which includes the hundred years war between France and England and the Wars of the Roses, moving onto the European Reformation, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, slavery and Freedom, the creation of nations etc. A very intensive course with many hand-outs available on the module website aside from the books to read.

Medieval to modern focuses on the historiography rather than mere narrative of events from history. This requires analysis of arguments offered by different historians.

The student also has the privilege of reading primary sources which in themselves are an education regarding the evolution of the English since the fifteenth century I thoroughly enjoyed it and found that it demanded a strict timeline in order to keep up with each week of study.

In addition, it is important to note that for students who prefer to read hard copies of historical material much printing is required. I have no hesitation in recommending this module to students whose academic interest is history. It is a compulsory module for those taking a pure history degree or history combined with another subject as it equips students with research techniques.

The hallmark of the module for me is that it inspired me to want to read more about the areas it covered and this is made possible due to the info provided at the end of each block for further reading. All in all, highly recommended.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

This is a great course. This has been my favourite course so far. It helps if you have background knowledge but it is not the end of the world if you do not! Do not be put off by the negative comments, this is an informative course and if you manage your time well you will be fine.

Kirsten Marie Sullivan

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: May 2014

This course is a lot of work, don't underestimate the amount of reading you will have to do and I say that because many people choose to study A200 alongside other level 1 & 2 modules. You will not be learning about history - you will be learning HOW to study history and analysis of historical sources is something you will do from start to finish in A200.

The TMAs are a challenging level 2 standard however there was one real 'brain burner' mid-way through focusing around the English State.

The issues regarding the Slave Trade will be covered and you are required to view this as an historian and place it within the context of its time rather than with the view of how it is regarded in today's times. Very thought provoking.

The course materials are excellent and if you have an enthusiastic, supportive tutor you will find that A200 will both challenge and satisfy you. I enjoyed A200 very much, it was hard work no doubt, but if you keep on top of the reading and make good use of your tutor's support and knowledge then A200 will be a very worthwhile journey.

Wendy June Reid

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: February 2014

This is a demanding and very enjoyable course. Its thematic structure is helpful, its materials excellent and its range exhilarating. I came away with an awareness of the links between different periods and a sense of history that will enable me to read more widely and with greater understanding. Thoroughly recommended.

Sarah Ozanne

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

A200 is a great course for those with an interest in history and, in particular, for learning how to study history. I enjoyed the breadth of the period covered and have gained enormously from studying the module as well as reading around the OU materials for those areas of particular interest.

The feedback that I received on TMAs helped me to progress through the course feeling reassured that I was developing good essay writing skills as well as understanding the materials provided.

Your module result for A200 relies heavily on the outcome of your examination. My only advice would be to those who haven't taken examinations in recent years. Just to make sure that you have revised well, to make clear any worries that you have about the exam to your tutor (purely because the level of advice appears to vary somewhat)and to get the best possible advice on how to approach the exam. Good TMA results do not always result in a good pass level.

But, overall, a great course.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This is an excellent course. What makes it excellent is the way it is constructed and the underpinning themes which run throughout the course. I was incredibly lucky in having such a supportive tutor, and the tutorials I felt were an essential aid to study.

If one delves further into the history books concerning the period covered, many of the topics highlighted resurface as key areas of historical importance. For instance the history of Burgundy, also social upheavals such as the effects of the Reformation and the English Civil Wars (British Civil Wars of the Three Kingdoms). Furthermore, the emphasis on historiography (the history of history itself) provides a superb contextualisation to how each of the periods studied have been perceived by past historians, which helps shape the way in which we study history today.

Do not be fooled, this is by no stretch of the imagination an easy course, but anything worth working at is rarely easy. A200 is "History Boot Camp". If you love history, you might well love A200. This course contains many of the skills required of a historian such as: constructing arguments based on evidence, from a variety of perspectives. Quantitive and qualitative analysis of datum. Recognising shifting trends such as the emergence of states to modern nations. The rise of liberalism and emancipation.

Perhaps the best thing about this course is its rich variety. There is something for everybody. Personally I prefer mediæval history but found the modern history thoroughly enjoyable. In the years of my having studied with the OU, this is undoubtably the best course I have studied yet, and would recommend it to any would-be historian.

Maxwell Lewis Latham

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Very interesting topics and great tutor support.If only all my modules were like this one.

Jonathan Kendall

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: June 2013

I enjoyed this course. A lot of people found it heavy going especially the reformation set book (I read this before the course started, which I recommend that you do, as you are then able to dip in and out, when required, as the course progresses with a deeper understanding of the authors views).

As it is a compulsory course for history, it is good in guiding you into the world of histography - a must for a history student; a non history student would probably find this section a bit boring.

Margaret Weston

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: May 2013

I was really apprehensive about taking this course as there were so many negative comments about its difficulty. Please do not be put off by them!

Yes, the course is a step up from Level 1 and it does take some time to adjust to. But I am studying for a degree to learn more about the world and broaden my horizons, and this course certainly does that and I soaked it all up like a sponge!

The topics on slavery and the Belgians in The Congo deeply affected me and after the course I bought books on both of these subjects to further my understanding. These were subjects I had never thought about (slavery) or heard about (Belgians) before.

Now I am studying at level 3 I am grateful to A200 for the grounding it has given me and look back on it with great fondness. Although there are areas which are difficult, like all the different historian's points of view for example, the course is great and certainly not as intense as a Level 3.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: April 2013

I found this course almost unbearable and was actually loking forward to the exam as it meant the end. The content in itself was sometimes interesting, but could be mind-numbing elsewhere. As this is a compulsory course, I felt an extra effort should be made to make it interesting and enjoyable. The workload was enormous and, as it was a new presentation, there were a lot of errors in the material. There was a lot of confusion over the aim of the TMAs and their guidance notes. The worst thing about this course was the forum. It was negative and bad-tempered. I avoided it because it was demoralising and often made insecurities much worse. I wouldn't recommend it if it's not compulsory.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: February 2013

Faculty response

This presentation of the module followed a rewrite. There was some confusion over TMAs that have been addressed and some minor errors have since been corrected. Some of the forums were bad tempered at times however we have clarified the purpose of the forums and they have since been much more positive. There was some negativity in this presentation of A200, however, the overall student satisfaction survey demonstrated that 89% of students were satisfied with the quality of the module and their study experience, and 83% would recommend this module to other students.

A200 Module Team

I had a a great helpful tutor for this course, he was always there offering advice if needed via email or phone. I could not get to the tutorials, so he would email me the notes, which was really helpful!

The course materials were heavy going at times, especially the Reformation (religious) aspect. I hate reading about it and believe me there is a lot of it, which overshadows most of the blocks, it goes to show you that religion has a lot to answer for through the ages, it was cruel and dictated how people had to live.

I found the slavery block very interesting, but small in comparison to the religious aspects.

The TMA guidance was constantly confusing, and very unhelpful, as were the example exam questions of what to expect in the actual exam, to me they were way off! So try and revise a few blocks for the exam so you have more choice.

I just passed the exam which for me was awesome as I was sure I'd fail due to being constantly confused.

Be prepared for spending a lot of money on printer ink and paper.

Overall even though at times I hated the course and most of the blocks, it's not that bad.
If I hadn't had the tutor I had I would have given up. I wish I had him for my current course!

Be aware that recently for every history course the tutors all want a different style and structure for the assignments so make sure you know what "they" want early on so they don't slash your marks!

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: January 2013

I really enjoyed this course. I have always enjoyed history, but never had the chance to study it at this level. It was a steep learning curve, but after the first 2 TMAs, I realised how I was expected to construct my answers. I was very clear about the 3 concurrent themes of the module - by far the most interesting was the development of the nation state, but the reflection on how this intertwined with religious change and commerce was fascinating. I feel that I have a wholly different perspective on the EU and its current struggles!

Most of all the course proved addictive, to the extent that I am now studying A207 and hope to progress to history at Level 3. There is a lot of work and huge breadth - fortunately my professional background is such that I wasn't fazed by that aspect.

The problem was getting inside the historian's head and realising that this course is as much about studying the historians and their interpretation of events(historiography)as it is about the history.

Elizabeth Lynne Jones

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: October 2012

To put it bluntly, whilst I did not like this course I passed with a far better grade than I expected. There were many niggles with A200. As mentioned previously, the October 2011 version was a rewrite and there were many mistakes that were picked up on by other students. Having less general knowledge of historical events than many others, I did not often pick up on these problems and the gradual revealing of them on the forums meant that a lot of time was wasted in regularly checking that I hadn't missed something. I feel the course team could have been better at advising of the problem in each instance. The course is not cheap but a lot of people felt they were being shortchanged in being used as virtual 'proofreaders' for the course.

The timeline of the course should have been interesting but the actual subjects selected and the TMA questions were very limiting and, in my opinion, not engaging at all. As said before the TMA guidelines were not helpful and advice from a tutor was vital, if that advice had arrived a little quicker it would have been ever better. The course schedule was a challenge when it came to TMAs, the reading weeks finished on a Saturday and the TMA deadlines were the following Thursday at 12pm. For those working during the day the pressure was on to get the TMA in by the Wednesday evening leaving just four days to produce the relevant words. Despite the possibility of extensions this was a tight schedule to keep.

Also as mentioned before the forums were a challenge to say the least. There were many with a lot of time on their hands and several rather aggressive posters that put a lot of people off. A huge shame as these should have been a vital source of aid for many of us but proved to be too intimidating.

The advice for revising exams given below is useful, do not try to revise too many blocks but make sure you cover at least two for each question (this does become clear later in the course) to ensure you have the choice on the day.

My only advice if you are doing this course, be organised, make appropriate notes, try to link the (obscure) themes throughout the blocks and speak to your tutor at every opportunity. I didn't, my tutor wasn't terribly helpful to me in my struggles with the course, and I found the whole thing harder than I should have done.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

Faculty response

A200 is a demanding course that requires good time-management and study skills. These are important skills to develop at Level 2 and the study calendar, Module Companion and Assignment Guide are intended to help you with this. The forums this year did develop a negative tone at times and many students abandoned them. We have put new procedures in place to ensure students get more out of them in future. There were a few errors in the course materials which were brought to our attention. Each of these has now been investigated – they were mostly small and have been addressed through errata.

The course is unnecessarily complicated, to the point it became tedious and distressing, tried to cover far too an extensive period in as little detail as possible. The course was far too disjointed, the primary source materials were on some occasions tediously linked to the TMA questions set, instead, I had to rely on forum posts, with forum tutors and students suggesting various primary sources from a vast array of websites (top marks from only using the OU Materials? thing of the past!), which I must say is unlucky for those who didn't put in the hours required to wade through the hundreds of useless forum posts.

I did this course, which is a second year course, in the third year of my degree. The TMA questions I considered poorly constructed and incomprehensible, in contrast to every course I had previously undertaken. Upon seeking assistance, my tutor was completely inadequate, not helpful in the slightest. Only after consistently pushing for guidance, did I finally receive any, however, after taking all the tutors advice on board, I was rewarded with my lowest mark of not only the course, but my whole Open University studies. The only time I believe I received just results was on the two occasions when my assignment was marked by a different tutor.

I would rate my experience of A200 as 2/10.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

Faculty response

As the Module Description makes clear, A200 offers an overview of 500 years of history. It also teaches skills in historical analysis for students new to the study of history. As such, it requires students to move between general and focussed historical study which is quite a challenge to new students. This can also be frustrating for more advanced students who feel constrained by the necessarily narrow focus of some TMAs. Nevertheless, in our experience, the A200 approach provides a solid grounding in the knowledge and skills required for future historical study.

Now that this course is over, I can look back and realise that I did actually enjoy it. It has its ups and downs, and, as some other reviewers have noted, some blocks are more interesting than others. For me, Block One (Mediaeval England, France and Burgundy) and Block Two (The Reformation) were by far the most interesting. I was surprised that I enjoyed the Blocks on Slavery (Four) and Empire (Six) far more than I was expecting. Block Three, however, on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, was for me a real struggle.

The printed course materials are quite good despite having at least two mistakes about Jehanne Darc and one mistake about Henry V Lancaster. The DVDs were interesting apart from the ones by the BBC on Slavery (although the discussions about the BBC programmes were interesting).

The set books were excellent. Wallace is not as bad as other reviewers say. It is not meant to be Horrible Histories; it is an academic text book for undergraduates. The Anthology was fascinating and I continue to read parts of that (Treaty of Troyes, Jehanne Darc's letters, ...)

The OU Forums were a disappointment after the excellent AA100 Forums which were run in a far more professional and academic manner. Time is far better spent on the other course materials.

Be prepared to buy lots of paper and printer ink. Most of the course materials are online and are essential. Part of the course requires one to search academic databases for articles in journals but I feel that much of the online material should have been provided in print by the OU.

The examination was not as bad as everybody was expecting. It was, for me, easier than the TMAs. In the examination you can choose questions on subjects which are of more interest to you. So I could avoid any mention of Scotland (boring) and Ireland (very boring).

I was assigned a brilliant tutor whose lengthy and detailed feedback helped me to gain a good pass.

All in all this is a very good course if you are willing to roll your sleeves up and avoid negativity and whining from a minority of other students.

John Edward Paver

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2013 presentation of A200. The survey was carried out in 2014. 52% of our students responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module. See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 81.8 %
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 79.7 %
The module provided good value for money 71.3 %
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 86.9 %
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 84.2 %
The module met its stated learning outcomes 89 %
I would recommend this module to other students 68.4 %
The module met my expectations 72.8 %
I enjoyed studying this module 71.5 %
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 77 %
Faculty comment: "We are pleased that the majority of students on this module were satisfied with the teaching materials and would recommend the module to others. We have noted from survey feedback and individual student comments that tuition and workload were not always as expected. The aims of the module are set out in the Module Companion and the study calendar has been designed to help students to organise their time. A200 is a challenge for some students. However, it provides a solid grounding in the knowledge and skills required for the study of history at OU levels 2, 3 and beyond."
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