Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module THEO44830: Christianity in The Second Century

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO44830: Christianity in The Second Century

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with awareness of continuities and discontinuites in Christian belief and practice during the second century CE;
  • To provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for interpreting Christian texts from this period;
  • To provide students with a foundation upon which they can interpret current attempts to appropriate second century Christianity in modern Christianity


  • This module will explore the development of Christian thought and practice in the pivotal period between the writing of the documents that came to be gathered into the “New Testament” and the early literary activity of Origen of Alexandria in the early third century (c.110 – and c. 220). Subjects to be studied include the development of Christian institutions, the development of Christian intellectual life, the relationship between Christianity and the educational, rhetorical and philosophical culture in which it found itself, and the phenomenon of “Gnosticism.”

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An advanced understanding of Christianity in the second century.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to analyse and write about Christian texts and practices of the period with intellectual rigour and historical depth.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to read complex texts with intellectual nuance; research, presentation and writing skills; an ability to ask scholarly questions about sources and adaptation of sources.

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

  • Seminars (including seminar presentations) enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding, promoting a conversation among differing viewpoints.
  • Teaching as a short “fat” module enables immersion in the subject through a long weekly seminar, and provides extensive subsequent time for developing final project.
  • Summative essays assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in research, analysis and argumentation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 10 weekly 2.5 25
Preparation and Reading 275
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100%
Component: Take home exam (gobbets) Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Take home exam 1500 words (students will have one week to return the exam. It will consist of 3 short comments on 3 primary texts) 100%

Formative Assessment:


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