Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module THEO43230: Patristic Ecclesiology

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO43230: Patristic Ecclesiology

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to provide students with an awareness of the way in which early Christian theologians made use of biblical, liturgical and philosophical resources to formulate their understanding of the church.
  • to enable students to interpret patristic literature.
  • to provide students with an awareness of the thought-world of late-antiquity.


  • this module will explore patristic ecclesiology at the time of the major doctrinal controversies of the early Church. The theologians of the early Church developed an understanding of the church as a mysterious bond between the spiritual and material worlds. This understanding of the church and the place of humanity in it had profound implications for the early Christians' conception of the fallen human state and its restoration.
  • the focus will be on primary sources spanning the period from the subapostolic age to the eighth century: Hermas, Methodius of Olympus, Cyril of Jerusalem, the Cappadocians, John Chrysostom, Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus, and major conciliar decisions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • have an advanced understanding of the various patristic ideas about the church.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • to be able to read and interpret intelligently patristic texts (in translation, though with reference to the original where possible and appropriate).
Key Skills:
  • to be able to understand arguments and assess them, particularly those concerned with the early church’s doctrinal and exegetical traditions.

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

  • The seminars will enable students to develop advanced subject-specific knowledge and skills in the communication of ideas and critical interpretation of sources. This will be facilitated through peer-group discussion and selected key texts, moderated by the module leader.
  • The purpose of the formative essay is to encourage students to explore the subject specific themes and theories covered by the module. The summative essay is intended to assess both the students’ comprehension of theoretical material, and capacity to apply this material to the discussion of texts and arguments. Feedback on essay performance will be delivered via tutorials.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 1 Michaelmas Term 1 1
Tutorials 4 2 per term 1 4
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 2 20
Preparation and reading 275
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 word essay 100%

Formative Assessment:

One 5,000 word essay

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