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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Rosslyn Chapel - Art, Architecture, and Experience in Late Medieval Scotland (HIAR10173)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers a detailed examination of Rosslyn Chapel and puts it in the context of late medieval Scottish art and architecture. The course is structured as a series of two-hour seminars, of which at least one will be in the church itself. The seminars will focus each week on different themes arising from Rosslyn, which provide insights into the late Middle Ages more generally (such as death, saints, liturgical performance, grotesques).
Course description Rosslyn Chapel has received an unusual level of popular attention when compared with other historic buildings in the British Isles. Regularly described as 'mysterious' and 'intriguing', it is often misunderstood or reinterpreted. This course examines the 15th century art and architecture of Rosslyn in detail, encouraging nuanced, historically grounded perspectives on this much-praised and puzzled-over church. Because the medieval church was a multimedia experience, Rosslyn is explored holistically. The course analyses its architecture, sculpture, and evidence of liturgical performances (including music) in order for students to understand how they came together to create a functional whole.

In addition, Rosslyn provides an anchor for studying the art and architecture of late medieval Scotland more broadly. From dancing skeletons to bagpiping angels, the variety of subjects depicted at Rosslyn enable students to investigate important themes in pre-Reformation piety. The course explores attitudes and practices such as those surrounding death and commemoration, devotion to the saints and the Passion of Christ, music making and the Heavenly realm, grotesques and jokes. Issues arising from Rosslyn's place in popular culture - from the Da Vinci Code to extraterrestrial experiences - are also critically examined, intertwining traditional and alternative historiographies.

If possible, there will be at least one class taught in the church itself and the nature of the course means that students will use other nearby medieval buildings, as well as objects and primary sources held in Edinburgh collections, to enliven and deepen their understanding of late medieval Scottish art and architecture.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Cost of return travel to Rosslyn Chapel: 3.40 per visit. (Note that this cost may be reimbursed by the department).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above, and we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that 3rd year History of Art courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  23
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 24, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 2000 word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10

1 x 24 hour online exam 50% - April/May diet.
Feedback Students are given feedback on formative assessment as follows:

At an agreed point in the course, students will be asked to prepare a presentation of around 10 minutes to deliver to the class and to submit a short (c.300 word) summary of their presentation with references. Each student will receive verbal feedback at a one-to-one meeting afterwards.

Students will also be asked to undertake a creative project where they will put themselves in the position of a medieval church patron and design their own artistic programme. They will present these to class in a quick and informal format mid semester. This will feed forward to the summative essay and exam because it will prompt students to consider artistic programmes in the round, and to think about the patronal tastes and beliefs which lie behind iconographical and spatial choices.

Summative Assessment

There will be an essay and an exam, equally weighted. Written feedback on student essays will be provided, in addition to a one-to-one meeting towards the end of semester.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)24 hour online examination paper0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation by looking in detail at Rosslyn.
  2. Analyse the way in which buildings, artworks of a variety of media, and liturgical performances work together to create an immersive pious experience.
  3. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of how Rosslyn fits into the context of late medieval Scotland.
  4. Critically examine the ways in which Rosslyn has been interpreted in different cultural contexts, and reflect on their own position in this historiography.
Reading List
Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992).

Richard Fawcett, The Architecture of the Scottish Medieval Church (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011).

David McRoberts and Stephen Holmes, Lost Interiors: The Furnishings of Scottish Churches in the Later Middle Ages, (Edinburgh: Aquhorties Press, 2013).

Virginia Raguin, Kathryn Brush, and Peter Draper (editors), Artistic Integration in Gothic Buildings, (1995, reprint, Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press, 2000).

Helen Rosslyn and Angelo Maggi, Rosslyn: County of Painter and Poet, (Edinburgh, 2002).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis;
Clear thinking and the development of an argument;
Independent research;
Presentation and communication skills;
Organisation and planning.
KeywordsScotland,Late Medieval,Religion,Architecture,Sculpture,Liturgy,Music
Course organiserDr Lizzie Swarbrick
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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