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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MEDV5282M Gender, Power and the Supernatural: Saints and their Cults

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Prof William Flynn

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores what saints have to tell us about the world in which they lived, tracking the development of their cults from the Late Antique Middle East to medieval western Europe. Saints were challenging figures: often marginal, transgressive, and critical of their societies, they tell us about a great deal more than religion. Through the study of the key texts (Saints' Lives, Miracle collections) associated with their cults, we examine the cultural and societal impact of both male and female saints, their veneration, their legends and miracles, pilgrimage to their shrines and their relics. Notions of sanctity provided a wide variety of models for exhortation and imitation that changed significantly during the period, and the processes for recognising sainthood displayed wider developments in the attempts to centralise religious authority.


Provide an introduction to current approaches, tools for research, and the sources (both textual and material) for the study of saints' cults and their development during the Middle Ages.
Guide and develop the students' ability to evaluate and analyse textual and material sources relating to saints' cults.
Provide the opportunity to study a specific saint’s cult from more than one disciplinary perspective.

Learning outcomes
Students successfully completing this module should:
Form an understanding of development of Saints' cults during the Middle Ages.
Be able to analyse hagiographical texts and their conventions.
Become familiar with the problems and opportunities that hagiographical texts pose for medievalists
Develop an awareness of the multiple ways in which contemporaries interpreted and used saints' cults and the multiple ways in which medievalists interpret them.
Become aware of the multiple textual and material sources that provide evidence for saints' cults and the use of these sources in current research.

Skills outcomes
Students will learn how hagiography and its related textual and material sources have been used in a range studies in several of the disciplines that constitute medieval studies, and how to integrate these sources into their own research within the current research context.


The first four weeks consist of introductory sessions in which students are introduced to current historical views of the development of saints' cults, tools for research, and some textual sources. During the second four weeks a variety of saints' cults are examined topically (e.g. Veneration vs. Canonisation; Miracles and Wonders; Liturgy, Architecture and Relics; Gendered sanctity and sainthood; Power and saints' cults. The final three weeks are devoted to a specific saints' cult addressed from more than one disciplinary perspective.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Each seminar requires substantial preparation of assigned readings and tasks. Each of the two assessed writing assignments requires extensive research and writing time.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored via student participation in seminars. The instructors can monitor the grasp of the materials and the students' engagement with and mastery of it and provide formative feedback. Each student may also discuss their proposed essays for initial advice from the module tutor or another of the module tutors as appropriate.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 word essay50.00
Essay3,000 word essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:25:10


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