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HIST 3880 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

HIST 3880 - Renaissance and Reformation Europe

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course covers developments in European history from the Renaissance until the Industrial Revolution, roughly from 1300 until 1700. This is a period sometimes referred to as the "Early Modern Period." This was a period of incredible social, political and religious change. 

Course Outcomes:

In addition to providing background about this time and place in history, this course will help you develop these basic skills for studying history (based on "Tennessee Teacher Licensure Standards" and "Curriculum Standards for Teachers of Social Studies" developed by the National Council for Social Studies):

  • Posing questions and making judgments based on evidence
  • Understanding the effect of geography on history
  • Understanding the historical context of current events
  • Using texts, maps, and other social science tools for understanding history
  • Using techniques of historical interpretation
  • Understanding change over time
  • Investigating the major events and movements in history (including Western history)
  • Applying techniques of historical interpretation. 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

There are no prerequisites for this course. Because the course requires extensive reading and writing, students are encouraged to complete General Education requirements in Composition and History before attempting this course.

Course Topics:

Unit 1. Medieval Background
Unit 2. Village and City Life
Unit 3. Renaissance in Italy
Unit 4. Renaissance Art
Unit 5. Northern Renaissance
Unit 6. Western Europe in a Global Context 
Unit 7. Luther's Revolt
Unit 8. Other Reformations
Unit 9. Tradition and Change
Unit 10. English and Catholic Reformations
Unit 11. Religious Wars
Unit 12. Science and Superstition 

Specific Course Requirements:

Grades will be based on a combination of timed tests, formal written assignments, and class participation (including online quizzes).

Students will take two essay tests, consisting of a long essay and definitions of terms. Grading on essay tests will be based on inclusion of specific historical facts, knowledge of historical concepts and theories discussed in the course, and overall quality of writing (including organization, paragraphing, and grammar to the extent possible within the time limits of the exams). Students who do not have experience with essay tests in History should consult with the instructor early in the course about how they should prepare for the exams. 

Participation will depend on active participation in on-line discussions and on completion of quizzes within the course.

Written assignments include an analysis of a primary source document for European history during this period and a research paper. These assignments will be graded on quality of writing as well as content. For purposes of this course, writing quality includes identification of a clear thesis, good organization and paragraphing, and mastery of technical historical terminology. In this course students should have already mastered the basics of grammar, spelling, and proofreading. Therefore, students should not expect to receive points for exhibiting these skills, though they may have points deducted for failure in these basic areas. You may rewrite any paper for a higher grade. Paper rewrites will be due one week from the date papers are returned with comments (usually no more than one week after submission). Additionally, students must do certain pre-writing assignments (designed to help students develop their research skills generally and their paper topics in particular). 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

Students need not purchase any special materials for class, but note particularly the RODP requirement that students have appropriate word processing software. You should be prepared to access primary source readings from various web sites, including the “Internet History Sourcebooks” maintained by Paul Halsall on the Fordham University website. This resource will be particularly useful in finding sources for the Document Analysis. Students should also be prepared to access materials from a good research library (public libraries and book stores are usually not prepared to supply adequate sources for college-level History papers), either by checking out books or by accessing scholarly journals on-line. All students will find the Ebsco Host and JSTOR databases helpful in accessing scholarly resources for History papers. Note that most web sites are designed to provide general information to the general public, not to provide well-documented research to serious students (such as yourselves)--and some internet resources exhibit sloppy research or down-right fabrication. You should check with your instructor before relying on any internet source for your papers. 

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Two essays will appear on the exam; you will write on one of them. You will identify or define 5 historical terms (with a choice of 5 out of 8). You will have the option of opening the exams within a 2-day
period. Once an exam has been opened, you will have no more than 120 minutes (2 hours) to complete the exam. 

Grading Procedures:

In all course assignments (including discussions, quizzes, exams, and papers) students will be graded on their grasp of important historical events, their ability to explain historical processes and arguments clearly, their understanding of the historical significance of the events discussed in the course, their ability to place events in a chronological context, and their ability to explain the historical background of key events.

All of these skills will be evaluated on the exams.

Discussion postings will be graded on relevance of material, factual and logical basis of the statements, and evidence that the student has taken into account the comments of others in the follow-up posting.

Pre-writing assignments are designed to help students write better papers. The grades are based on genuine effort towards that goal. No pre-writing assignments will be accepted after the deadline for the Research Paper. 

Papers are designed to teach the student historical methodology and general research skills. In order to receive a good grade on a paper, a student must exhibit all of the skills outlined above as well as general writing ability.

As in all upper-level History courses, students should expect to write well (correct grammar, proper use of vocabulary, good proofreading, etc.). Students should strive to write well on all assignments, but especially formal papers. 

Grading Scale:
below 60F


Assignments and Projects:
  • Midterm Exam (15%)
  • Final Exam (15%)
  • Participation in weekly on-line discussions, 2 postings per each of 12 modules (10%)
  • Pre-writing assignments (weighted equally 20%)
    • Quotation and Citation Quiz o Primary Source Quiz
    • Database Assignment
    • Article Review
    • Preliminary Annotated Bibliography
    • Thesis Statement
  • Major papers (40%)
    • Primary Source Analysis
    • Research Paper 
Class Participation:

Students must participate in all threaded discussions on the course bulletin board (at least two submissions per week), consult with the instructor regarding paper topics, keep in regular contact with the instructor through e-mail, and complete the pre-writing assignments. Students should also check the course bulletin board for announcements and e-mail for special messages from the instructor. While most students can get by in this course by checking in once a week, students should plan on logging in two or three times a week if they want to EXCEL in the course. 


Late Policy:

Students should adhere to the course schedule for handing in written assignments (book review, source analysis, and final paper), responding to discussion questions, and taking examinations. Students who miss a paper deadline without an adequate excuse may be given permission to submit a late paper at the instructor's discretion but will lose days available for rewriting. Students handing in paper rewrites without having first handed in the corresponding paper will receive a 10% penalty and will have forfeited all opportunity to rewrite. No late paper rewrites will be accepted. No assignments may be submitted after the final exam date. In order for late penalties to be waived, legitimate requests for extensions must be submitted before the due date. Let the instructor know immediately if you must miss a deadline or an exam.

Students are required to make two Discussion postings for each Course Module. Students must post the initial Discussion message by Wednesday of the week assigned for a particular course module (see the Calendar or the introductory page for the module in question). They should post at least one follow-up message by the end of the week (Sunday). Late postings will be penalized. Be sure to note changes in posting deadlines to accommodate RODP breaks (Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, Spring Break, etc.). 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on July 12, 2021