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Universities and student life in Early Modern Europe


Admission requirements



Early modern European universities were international places where students from many countries congregated, using Latin to communicate with one another and their professors, struggling to learn the language of their host country, while at the same time keeping a clear sense of ethnic and religious differences and often limiting their loyalties to their particular “nations.”

The institutions where they studied inherited some of the autonomy and power of their medieval predecessors, but from the sixteenth century and especially in the seventeenth some new developments changed the face of European education, establishing trends that remained in place until the end of the early modern era.

In this seminar, we will explore the following themes: humanism and innovation within and without the university; social and geographical mobility of students; diversity within the student population; daily life of students; and issues of jurisdiction and power between universities, local authorities, and the Catholic and Protestant churches.

The students enrolled in this seminar will work on a small research project related to the topic of the course and based on published or unpublished primary sources; the exact theme and geographical area will be open to individual choice. Our readings and discussions will involve French, Italian, English, German, and Dutch examples, but students will be free to pick different case studies for their projects, upon consultation with the instructor.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • become familiar with the main historiographical debates on the topic of early modern higher education;

  • practice their research skills by developing a small project based on published or unpublished primary sources;

  • develop their oral skills through active class participation and the presentation of their preliminary research results;

  • practice their academic writing skills by producing a well-argued research paper.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar

Assessment method

Overall assessment will be based on:

  • class participation (15%)

  • oral presentation (15%)

  • research paper (70%)



Reading list

Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de, ed. Universities in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800. Vol. 2 of A History of the University in Europe, edited by Walter Rüegg. Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN-13: 978-0521541145.

Further reading (on reserve in the library; selections on Blackboard):

  • Platter, Felix. Beloved son Felix: The Journal of Felix Platter, a Medical Student in Montpellier in the Sixteenth Century. Translated by Sean Jennett. London, 1961.

  • Grendler, Paul F. “The Universities of the Renaissance and Reformation.” Renaissance Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2004): 1-42.

  • additional sources will be posted on Blackboard.


via uSis.

Contact information

E-mail: Ms.dr. F. Roșu