(HIST055) Introduction to British Witchcraft

A bag with spilled herbs and stones with holes through


Course start date: Monday 23rd September 2024
Course end date: Friday 29th November 2024
Early Bird Price: £135 BOOK NOW

Tutor: Tracey Norman
Course Code: HIST055
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Price: £150.00
Pre-Requisite Course(s): None
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.

Required Reading & Listening**: 

Cards, Cocoa and Charms: Devon’s Forgotten Witches – Tracey Norman
Aamena Press, 2019

WITCH – this is the audio version of Tracey Norman’s stage play and is available as a digital download.

Margery Scrope has been accused of witchcraft by her neighbour Thomas Latimer. Now they are both brought before the local magistrate, Sir William Tyrell, who must decide if Margery is indeed a witch or if Latimer’s accusation is merely the result of a neighbourly squabble. The plot twists and turns as Margery and Latimer each fight their corner, but, ultimately, Margery’s life hangs on the answer to one question – Is she, or isn’t she …

You can find more detail about the show at Tracey Norman’s Witch 

Recommended Reading**:

Witchcraft: The Basics – Marion Gibson
Routledge, 2018

If you buy books using this link, we may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops, and which helps us keep our course costs low.

**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any books or audio until you have received confirmation that the course is running.


This course aims to provide students with a basic understanding of British witchcraft, from an historical and folkloric perspective. The course will cover aspects of witchcraft including charms, healing, the impact of a developing legal system, famous and not-so-famous British witches and the portrayal of the witch in modern media.

Syllabus Plan

Week 1: Introduction
What is a witch? Definitions and understanding.

Week 2: Historical Overview Part 1
Witchcraft and the law.
The Reformation and its consequences.

Week 3: Historical Overview Part 2
Healers and cunning people.
Witchcraft and royalty.

Week 4: Charms, Healing and Hexes
Folk medicine.
Protective magic.

Week 5: Famous British witches
Agnes Sampson.
Isabel Gowdie.

Week 6: Case Study
Using the case of the Bideford Witches to examine a ‘typical’ witchcraft trial.

Week 7: Witches on your Doorstep
Focusing on a number of virtually unknown witchcraft cases from the Devon area which will offer students the chance to decide for themselves what was happening in each.

Week 8: Witches in the Media
Examines the portrayal of witches in various pop culture media including TV and film, songs and newspapers.

Week 9: Modern Witchcraft
From Helen Duncan to Hexing Trump. Witchcraft in the last 100 years.

Week 10: Is she or isn’t she?
This week students will listen to the audio version of the tutor’s stage play ‘WITCH’ and will use the knowledge they have gathered throughout the course to draw their own conclusions about the subject matter being presented.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should have:

  • Acquired a general understanding of the figure of the witch in British history, folklore and media
  • Gained an understanding of the socio-economic factors which led to witchcraft trials in Britain
  • Learned the stories of some of Britain’s most famous witches
  • Begun to develop skills in interpreting historic witchcraft cases