Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module THEO2591: The Thought of St Bonaventure

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO2591: The Thought of St Bonaventure

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • To make students critically engage with key features of Bonaventure’s thought and spirituality and make them reflect on the significance of Bonaventure’s theology and spirituality for theology today.
  • Through an engagement with the work and influence of Bonaventure’s thought to make students critically reflect on key theological issues, such as the understanding of God as Trinity and the human person; the Christian life of virtue; the relation between faith and reason, or between theory and practice; the nature of salvation; sanctification.


  • This module will offer an in-depth exposition of key aspects of Bonaventure’s theology and spirituality, including topics such as: the nature of theology, the relation between faith and reason, Bonaventure’s understanding of the Trinitarian God, theology of creation, sin, grace and sacraments, and eschatology.
  • These topics will be studied in light of Bonaventure’s historical context in general, and his Franciscan vocation in particular.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A systematic understanding of key aspects of Bonaventure’s thought and spirituality through exposure to primary texts and engagement with relevant secondary literature.
  • A critical evaluation of the achievements and limitations of Bonaventure’s thought in light of our contemporary theological concerns.
  • An in-depth understanding of the nature and development of Bonaventure’s thought and its significance for the Christian life in the medieval period, and how it was shaped by its historical context.
  • A profound insight into the significance of Bonaventure’s thought and spirituality on subsequent Christian thinking.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to interpret and evaluate critically Bonaventure’s writings on the basis of primary and secondary sources, and to situate them in their intellectual and cultural context.
Key Skills:
  • Development of the ability to engage critically with theological arguments and be able to situate them in their socio-historical context.
  • Ability to grasp, summarize, and critically evaluate concepts, arguments and knowledge in written form.

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

  • Lectures will be in two hour blocks, partly ex cathedra and partly in seminar style, in order to enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding through engagement with primary texts, interaction with fellow-students and the staff member, promoting awareness of different approaches and hermeneutical perspectives, thereby enhancing skills in the analysis of texts, concepts and arguments.
  • Formative assignments, including essays, develop subject-knowledge and enhance student skills in the acquisition of knowledge through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of knowledge in written form.
  • Summative essays assess the subject-specific knowledge and understanding by engaging with primary texts and secondary literature.
  • An end-of term written examination will evaluate general engagement with the overall course

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures/seminars 18 1 per week (with a break) MT weeks 1-5, 7-10, EpT weeks 1-4, 6-9, ET week 1 (revision class) 2 hours 36
Preparation and Reading 164
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (Epiphany term) 3000 100% Yes
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students will be asked to write ten 300-word response papers to the texts to be studied in the lectures/seminars. Students will be asked to write a formative essay of 2,500 words on a key aspect of Bonaventure’s theology or spirituality

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