Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, we will be adapting the way we teach and assess your modules in line with government guidance on social distancing and other protective measures in response to Coronavirus. Teaching will vary between online and on-campus delivery through the year, and you should read guidance from the academic department for details of how this will work for a particular module. You can find out more about the University’s overall response to Coronavirus at:

HI242-30 Germany in the Age of the Reformation

Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Beat Kümin
Credit value
Module duration
23 weeks
60% coursework, 40% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

The Reformation triggered the single most significant set of transformations in early modern Europe. Religion and confessional allegiance shaped the social, economic and political culture of the Continent for centuries to come. The protagonist of the German Reformation, Martin Luther, is universally recognised as one of the outstanding historical figures of all times.

'Germany in the Age of the Reformation' allows in-depth engagement with one of the prominent issues raised in the early modern core module students take in Year 1. It prepares them for more advanced early modern options in the third year and assumes no knowledge of other languages (although German materials are available).

At the close of the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman Empire experienced an age of unrest. Luther's new doctrines provided the catalyst for fundamental changes. This module focuses on the socio-cultural impact of the Reformation. Particular attention is given to dissemination processes (role of print; visual / ritual propaganda; forging Protestant Churches and identities), the effect on different social groups (Urban / Rural Reformation; Peasants' War; gender relations) and confessional tensions (Radical Reformation; Catholics; Jews). The course concludes with an assessment of the long-term legacies of the German Reformation.

Module web page

Module aims

This module highlights the key role of religion in pre-industrial society. It provides an in-depth survey of the country which proved seminal for the development of the European Reformation. Students will examine the roots as well as the dramatic socio-cultural effects of changes in theology and ecclesiastical organization. The Reformation divided sixteenth-century communities and affected each social / gender group in particular ways. The module draws on extensive primary and secondary materials to illustrate how the people of Germany experienced and in turn shaped these fundamental transformations.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Autumn Term

Week 1: [No classes for Year 2 options]
Week 2: Introduction and Organization

Week 3: Politics and Tensions
Week 4: Living in Late Medieval Germany
Week 5: Religious Beliefs and Practices
[Reading Week]
Week 7: Debate - An Age of Reform or Decline?

Week 8: Luther - Man and Myth
Week 9: Luther's Message
Week 10: Communication and Media

Spring Term

Week 11: The Reformed
Week 12: Reformation Writing - Issues and Resources

Week 13: The Peasants' War
Week 14: The Kingdom of Münster
Week 15: Extended essay surgery
[Reading Week]
Week 17: Deciding on Faith in Sixteenth-Century Cities
Week 18: Debate - Was the Reformation 'Good for Women'?
Week 19: Institutionalizing the Reformation

Week 20: Confessional Identities

Summer Term

Week 21: Charles V - a failure?
Week 22: Conclusion
Week 23 or 24: Revision session

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing scholarship, including consideration of different historical sub-disciplines and historiographical debate.
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the importance of religion in early modern society and the socio-cultural impact of confessional change.
  • Communicate ideas and findings, adapting to a range of situations, audiences and degrees of complexity.
  • Generate ideas through the analysis of a broad range of primary source material, including visual sources and electronic materials, as well as secondary literature.
  • Act with limited supervision and direction within defined guidelines, accepting responsibility for targeted research, independent writing and achieving deadlines.
Indicative reading list

Primary sources

  • ‘German History in Documents and Images’ [online source collection]
  • Luther’s Works (55 vols, 1955-)
  • T. Scott & R. Scribner eds, The Peasants’ War: A History in Documents (1991)

Secondary works

  • D. Bagchi, 'Germany', in: A. Ryrie (ed.), Palgrave Advances in the European Reformations (2005)
  • Th. Brady, German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400-1650 (2009)
  • N. Burnett and E. Campi (eds), A Companion to the Swiss Reformation (2016)
  • E. Cameron, The European Reformation (1991) [recommended for the general European context]
  • J. Dewald (ed.), Europe 1450-1789: Encyclopaedia of the Early Modern World (2004)
  • H. J. Cohn, 'The Long Reformation: Lutheran', in: B. Kümin (ed.), The European World (3rd edn, 2018) [a concise introduction]
  • S. Dixon (ed.), The German Reformation: Essential Readings (1999)
  • Scott Dixon, The Reformation in Germany (2002) [strongly recommended textbook purchase]
  • " , Protestants: A History from Wittenberg to Philadelphia 1517-1740 (2009)
  • " , Contesting the Reformation (Oxford, 2012) [a helpful survey of scholarly debates on the Reformation]
  • S. Ehrenpreis; U. Lotz-Heumann, Reformation und konfessionelles Zeitalter (2002)
  • M. Greengrass, The Longman Companion to the European Reformation (1998)
  • H. J. Hillerbrand (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Reformation, 4 vols (1996)
  • M. Hughes, Early Modern Germany, 1477-1806 (1992)
  • Lindberg, The European Reformations (1996)
  • " , Reformation Theologians (2002)
  • R. D. Linder, The Reformation Era (2007)
  • P. Matheson (ed.), Reformation Christianity (2007)
  • New Cambridge Modern History, vol. XIV, Atlas, 118-26
  • S. Ozment, A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People (2005)
  • Pettegree (ed.), The Early Reformation in Europe (1992)
  • " (ed.), The Reformation World (2000)
  • " , Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion (2005)
  • R. Po-Chia Hsia (ed.), The German People and the Reformation (1988)
  • " , A Companion to the Reformation World(2003)
  • U. Rublack, Reformation Europe (2005)
  • " (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Protestant Reformations (Oxford, 2016)
  • L. Scales and J. Whaley (eds), 'Rewriting the History of the Holy Roman Empire' [Special Issue], German History 36 (3/2018), 331-414 (includes an editorial introduction: 331-48)
  • T. Scott, The Early Reformation in Germany: Between Secular Impact and Radical Vision (2013)
  • R. W. Scribner, The German Reformation (1986) [2nd edn, ed. C. Scott Dixon, 2000]
  • " et al. (eds), The Reformation in National Context (1994)
  • J. Whaley, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, vol. I: Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia 1493-1648 (2012)

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

See learning outcomes.

Transferable skills

See learning outcomes.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 20 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Seminars 20 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Tutorials 2 sessions of 1 hour (1%)
Other activity 2 hours (1%)
Private study 256 hours (85%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

History modules require students to undertake extensive independent research and reading to prepare for seminars and assessments. As a rough guide, students will be expected to read and prepare to comment on three substantial texts (articles or book chapters) for each seminar taking approximately 3 hours. Each assessment requires independent research, reading around 6-10 texts and writing and presenting the outcomes of this preparation in an essay, review, presentation or other related task.

Other activity description

Revision seminar


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D1
Weighting Study time
Seminar contribution 10%
1500 word essay 10%
3000 word essay 40%
7 day take-home assessment 40%
Feedback on assessment

written feedback on essay and exam cover sheets; student/tutor dialogues in one-to-one tutorials

Past exam papers for HI242


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 2 of UENA-VQ32 Undergraduate English and History

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 2 of UHIA-V100 Undergraduate History
  • Year 2 of UHIA-V1V5 Undergraduate History and Philosophy
  • Year 2 of UHIA-VM11 Undergraduate History and Politics
  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology
  • Year 2 of UAMA-V230 Undergraduate History, Literature and Cultures of the Americas

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 2 of UHIA-V100 Undergraduate History
  • Year 3 of UITA-R3V2 Undergraduate History and Italian
  • Year 2 of UHIA-VM11 Undergraduate History and Politics

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology

This module is Option list G for:

  • Year 3 of USX2-Y202 Undergraduate Social Studies [2 + 2]