Introduction to Christianity - RSST3470

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


The aim of this module is to introduce students to the study of Christianity, through a consideration of key ideas, texts, symbols, stories, rituals, conflicts and continuities, across contemporary and historical contexts. The course will offer a broad overview of two thousand years of Christian history, and seek to address the question of how the cult surrounding an obscure spiritual teacher from first century Nazareth became the world's largest religion, currently estimated at over two billion adherents. It will address the early church, eastern and western traditions, the medieval church, the Reformation and the relations between Christianity and modernity, as well as focusing on contemporary forms of Christianity, and the rapid growth since the 1970s of churches in the global South. By examining key concepts and practices across a range of historical and contemporary settings, the course will explore how the meaning and significance of these have often been subject to violent contestation, both amongst Christians and in their encounters with other religions. It will therefore encourage students to appreciate how the ideas and convictions that are often used to defend or attack Christianity have themselves been shaped by this history.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Assignment (1,000 words) – 30%
Oral Presentation (10 minutes) – 10%
Essay (2,000 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:

Brown, P. 2013. The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000, tenth anniversary revised edition, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Herring, G. 2006. An Introduction to the History of Christianity: From the Early Church to the Enlightenment, London: Bloomsbury.
MacCulloch, D. 2009. A History of Christianity, London: Penguin.
MacCulloch. D. 2004. Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700, London: Penguin.
McGrath, A. 2015. Christianity: An Introduction, 3rd edition, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Miles, M. 2004. The Word Made Flesh: A History of Christian Thought, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Woodhead, L. 2014. Christianity: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the broad historical development of Christianity, in both Eastern and Western traditions, and to be able to locate key transitions within their appropriate social, political and cultural contexts;
Demonstrate appreciation of what it means to be a Christian in the contemporary world in different global contexts;
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of significant signs, symbols, stories and rituals within Christianity, and to be able to appreciate how these have unfolded over 2,000 years of Christian history;
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how the meaning and interpretation of key signs, symbols and concepts have been contested across a range of historical and contemporary settings, both among Christians and in their encounters with other religions;
Demonstrate knowledge and to be able to evaluate key aspects of the relationship between Christianity and modernity, including the relationship between Christianity and the Enlightenment, and contemporary areas of tension.


  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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