Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2008/09 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce the thought and writings of the Early Church in a thematic way, and to examine those aspects of Patristic thought which are often neglected.
  • To develop and contextualise knowledge of the subject area introduced at level 1, or gained through other study.
  • To prepare students for the skills and knowledge needed to undertake a dissertation in the final year.


  • This course covers those aspects of the early Church which are often neglected in favour of a systematic, "history of doctrine against heresy" approach. By examining the early Christian's relation to Greco-Roman culture, their place in society, their attitude to women, their ecclesiology, worship, spirituality, morality and art it aims to give a clearer insight into the early Church's culltural and social context, its beliefs, self-understanding and self-expression. The emphasis lies on the study of selected primary texts which will be studied in seminars.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles of study and main methods of enquiry in Patristics, along with an understanding of the way in which those principles have developed, and an ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different approaches.
  • A knowledge and critical understanding of the thought and writings of the Early Church, with reference to those aspects covered on the course.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Facility in the handling of primary sources and texts, and methods of textual study.
Key Skills:
  • Skills in the acquisition of information through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of information in written form.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures convey information and exemplify an approach to the subject-matter, enabling students to develop a clear understanding of the subject and to improve their skills in listening and in evaluating information.
  • Seminars enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding both through preparation and through interaction with students and staff, promoting awareness of different viewpoints and approaches.
  • Through small-group discussion, tutorials provide feedback on student work and the opportunity to discuss specific issues in detail, enhancing student knowledge and writing skills.
  • Examinations assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in the structured presentation of information in written form under time constraints. .

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 every 2 weeks as required 1 hour 10
Tutorials 3 1 hour 3
Seminars 15 1 every 2 weeks 1 hour 15
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one summative essay 3000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
unseen written examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay (2500 words).

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University