Gothic Art and Architecture, c. 1100-1350 - MEMS8031

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Spring Term 7 30 (15) Emily Guerry checkmark-circle


This module explores the dynamic relationship between the cult of relics and Gothic art. It will begin by retracing the aesthetics of devotion across Western Christendom, culminating in the creation of towering Gothic cathedrals. Throughout history, the design of cult images could reveal sacred presence, testify to miracle-working powers, and explicate the significance of a holy place using visual narratives. Through pilgrimage, gift-giving, and even theft, people acquired relics and 'invented' new cults. The success of a relic cult would benefit from the design of a magnificent reliquary, the depiction of pictorial programmes (in glass, sculpture, and painting), and the placement of the relic within a spectacular architectural setting. Together we will explore the development of Gothic art in light of changing devotional needs. Using a number of diverse case studies, students will acquire a wealth of historical information and develop a variety of intellectual approaches to function and significance of visual culture. Beginning with Paris and its surrounding cathedrals, we will extend our analysis to Gothic Canterbury, London, Castile, Prague, Siena, and Florence. Above all, this course will encourage students to think critically about the influence of art in the religious imagination.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 280
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Essay 5000 words 100%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

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 demonstrate a systematic understanding of the visual, architectural, material, and devotional culture of Gothic art and architecture in Europe c.1100-1350
2 demonstrate a critical awareness of both traditional and current methodological and historiographical approaches to the history of art and architecture in the High Middle Ages in Europe, as well as an understanding of how these have changed in recent scholarship.
3 demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the study of medieval paintings, manuscripts, metalwork, sculpture, stained glass and architecture, as well as an appreciation of the level of analysis needed to examine these types of source material.
.4 demonstrate a strong independent ability to identify, locate and interrogate the most appropriate primary and secondary resources for the study of the Gothic imagination in
medieval Europe.
5 critically evaluate models of change and continuity over the course of the development of the Gothic style in Europe and describe how these may be combined to form an overall assessment of the period.

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

1 acquire advanced level skills of critical reading and analysis of a range of primary and secondary sources.
2 acquire an advanced level in the key skills of written communication, problem solving and attained responsibility for their own learning.
3 acquire an advanced level in the key skills of oral communication and working with others in a group, as well as gaining programme outcomes.
4 develop their use of relevant learning and reference resources (including visual resources).
5 improve their ability to write coherent, informed and logical arguments in a well-organised and well-presented essay.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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