Saints, Relics & Churches in Medieval Europe c.500-1500 - HIST6058

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Saints were a central feature of the Christian religion in medieval Europe, and they also had a profound influence on culture and society. This module explores the development of the cult of saints from Late Antiquity to the eve of the Reformation. Some of the main topics that will be considered include relics, miracle stories, pilgrimage, and artistic production. In addition to these topics, the module will consider the impact that saints and relics had on the building of churches and the feast days in the calendar. We will look at a wide variety of sources including illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, stained glass, church buildings, and saints' lives. All texts will be read in translation.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 60
Private study hours: 540
Total study hours: 600


Please note that this module is only available to single-honours and joint-honours students on the BA History and BA War Studies/Military History programmes. It is not available as a Wild module, nor is it available to short-credit students.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 3000 words 8%
Essay 3000 words 8%
Essay 3000 words 8%
Essay 3000 words 8%
Presentation 10 minutes 4%
Presentation 10 minutes 4%
Examination 2 x 2 hours 60%

Reassessment methods:
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

B. Abou-el-Haj. (1994) The Medieval Cult of Saints: Formations and Transformations. Cambridge:CUP
R. Bartlett. (2013) Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?: Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation. Princeton: Princeton University Press
P. Brown. (1981) The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
R. Marks. (2004) Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England. Stroud: The History Press
A. Vauchez. (2005) Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages. Cambridge: CUP

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Obtained a critical understanding of how the cult of saints developed in medieval Europe, as well as how and why it changed over time.
2 Expanded their knowledge the influence of saints and relics over the religion, culture, and society of medieval Europe.
3 Gained knowledge and understanding with a wide range of different types of primary sources.
4 Become more sophisticated in the interpretation of those primary sources, and developed a greater awareness of the problems involved in interpreting such sources, informed by recent scholarship on the period.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Developed their ability to communicate about complex concepts effectively.
2 Developed their ability to manage their own time and to work autonomously.
3 Developed their ability to present information orally and to use images as a communication tool.
4 Analysed, discussed, deconstructed, and demonstrated cogent understanding of primary sources and, subsequently, assembled and presented arguments based on this analysis.
5 Approached problem solving creatively, and formed critical and evaluative judgments about the suitability of these approaches.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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