History (HIST) 373

The Renaissance (Revision 2)

HIST 373 course cover

View previous syllabus

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None. HIST or HUMN course(s) at the 200-level recommended.

Precluded Course: HIST 300 and HIST 303 (HIST 373 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for HIST 300 and HIST 303.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

History Home Page

HIST 373 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


HIST 373 surveys the  one of the most important periods of history, the Italian Renaissance, from the fourteenth- to sixteenth centuries. Out of the late medieval catastrophes of plague, incessant warfare and religious controversy, Italian artists, writers, and statesmen sought to revive the high culture of ancient Greece and Rome and share it with the rest of Europe. It is often considered the beginning of the modern age. Students will read a sample of writings, in translation, of renaissance authors, artists, and cut-throat politicians. They’ll encounter famous figures such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, as well as less familiar writers. Assigned readings from leading modern historians will help students gain an understanding of this important period. The illustrated, online Study Guide helps students through their assigned readings in print and online. Students will hone their research and writing skills by studying an aspect or person from the renaissance in more detail through one short essay assignment (2000 words) and one research essay (3000 words). A final exam tests their knowledge. This course was written by Dr. E. David Gregory, Professor Emeritus of History. An AU tutor is assigned to each HIST 373 student to provide assistance and grade their assignments and exam.


  • Unit 1. Interpreting the Renaissance: Idea and Issues
  • Unit 2. Italian Renaissance Society: Continuity and Change
  • Unit 3. The Italian States I: Florence and Rome
  • Unit 4. The Italian States II: The Maritime States and the Principalities
  • Unit 5. World Views, Petrarch, Humanism, and Liberal Studies
  • Unit 6. Philosophy: Neo-Platonism and the Ideal of the Universal Man
  • Unit 7. Religion: The Florentine Crisis and the Challenge of the Reformation
  • Unit 8. Responses to Crisis: Political Thought and Historiography
  • Unit 9. The Visual Arts: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture
  • Unit 10. Artists, Writers, Patrons and Clients
  • Unit 11. Types and Uses of Art, Taste, and Iconography
  • Unit 12. Case Studies: Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael


To receive credit for HIST 373, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Short Essay 1 Research Essay Final Exam Total
25% 35% 40% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Kenneth R. Bartlett. A Short History of the Italian Renaissance.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2013.

Peter Burke. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy, Third edition. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2014.

Philip Ziegler. The Black Death.  New York: Harper, 2009.

Other Materials

Students access an online Course Instruction, 12-unit Study Guide, and Assignment Instructions online. Some readings are posted online, while others are eBooks available online through the AU library.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the HIST 373 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the entire challenge examination.

Part I: Exam Part II: Exam Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, June 6, 2017

View previous syllabus