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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MEDV5295M Religious Communities and the Individual Experience of Religion, 1200-1500

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Prof Emilia Jamroziak

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective


The module introduces the students to the complex interactions between communal and individual religious experience in the later Middle Ages (14th –15th c.). It challenges them to explore 'lived religion' – what was it like to be a monk, friar or a nun? How did lay people engage with religion through the parish community and in their private devotions? What was the experience of solitary religious pursuits (of visionaries, hermits and anchorites) in a largely communal age? These questions will be studied in the context of the institutional frameworks for religious experience (such as the monastic and mendicant orders, and the parish community) and by exploring the opportunities and tensions experienced by medieval Christians as participants in overlapping and competing approaches to religious life. These issues are considered through textual, visual and material sources using material from across Latin Christendom to see how trans-European structures were part of a very local experience.

Learning outcomes
On the completion of the module, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the structures of the late medieval Church and the role of laity in it
- Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the role of monastic and mendicant orders in enabling and mediating religious experience
- Comment sensitively on the character of late medieval piety in monastic, mendicant and lay contexts
- Engage in a sophisticated manner with expressions of communal and individual religious experience, including issues of gender, genre and transmission
- Develop a sophisticated awareness of the range of sources for late medieval piety and their strengths and weaknesses
- Demonstrate understanding of the development of modern scholarship

Skills outcomes
The students will develop an awareness of the value and limitations of the textual, visual and material sources for, as well as the significance of interdisciplinary approaches in the recent historiography on, late medieval religious experience.


The module will cover the following topics: the frameworks of religious experience; religious acculturation and formation, the experience of monks, nuns, friars, hermits and anchorites, the relationship between religious communities and the lay world, lay experiences of religion and popular piety, experiences of the mixed life (beguines and tertiaries), and the role of visionaries and mystics.

Teaching methods

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

Private study

Private study will include preparation for participation in seminars, and the preparation of a non-assessed presentation and the assessed essays. It will also be an opportunity for sustained reflection on the historiographical issues involved in the module and crucial for giving students the grounding needed for expressing their ideas (both in written and oral form) in a complex and often contested subject.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The progress is monitored through formative feedback given on the non-assessed presentations, the first and second essays. Engagement in the seminar discussions will provide further opportunity for encouragement and guidance for the students' development.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 3,000-word essay, due by 12 noon Monday of exam week 150.00
Essay1 x 3,000-word essay, due by 12 noon Monday of teaching week 750.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:41:16


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