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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Creeds, Councils and Controversies: Patristic and Medieval (ECHS11003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is concerned with some of the major phases of theological debate and clarification in both Western and Eastern Christianity down to the late medieval centuries, and with their credal and other definitional outcomes.
Course description Academic Description:
A study of major phases in theological debate and clarification, in Western and Eastern Christianity, from the Patristic period to the late Middle Ages. We look at the origins and theological and historical significance of texts such as the Nicene (325) and Constantinopolitan (381) Creeds, the Chalcedonian Definition (451), selected canons of medieval church councils, and some key Christian thinkers. We analyse key factors - philosophical, cultural, hermeneutical, theological, political, personal, linguistic, devotional - in theological disputes such as the Arian and Iconoclastic controversies, and in medieval debate about the Eucharist, authority in the Church, and the nature of salvation. We consider the role of particular individuals in the unfolding and resolution of controversy.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
Early creedal narratives and the Rule of Truth; Justin, Origen and the development of Logos theology; Constantine; Nicaea and Constantinople I; Nestorius and Cyril; Chalcedon and Constantinople II; Iconoclasm; Hildegard of Bingen; Lateran IV; the Council of Constance; Late medieval disputes over justification and Lateran V.

Student Learning Experience Information:
This is the first of two core courses for the Theology in History Masters programme, and so the emphasis is on the development both of the major doctrines of pre-Reformation Christianity, and of the mechanisms for agreeing and disputing them. Students from other programmes with an emphasis on theology or history who are interested in these topics are very welcome to take this course with the consent of their programme directors. The class will meet weekly for a two-hour seminar, which will focus on in-depth, contextualised discussion of the text or texts for the week, together with the indicated background reading. All students will be required to post one commentary online in advance of the seminar, and also to write an essay on a topic relevant to the course as agreed with the course lecturer. It is essential that students keep up not only with reading the specified core text(s) every week, but also with background reading, if they are to attain the depth of knowledge proper to Masters study.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  28
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 90% - Final Essay (3000 words) based on one of the key texts studied in the seminar

10% - Presentation (including a 500 word comment) and leading seminar discussion
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate extensive knowledge of aspects of the history of Christian doctrine in the period between the New Testament and the Reformation.
  2. Analyse and refer in argument to selected texts in English illustrating the history of Christian doctrine in the period.
  3. Contribute to group discussion about these texts.
  4. Address at least two disputed scholarly questions regarding a particular aspect of the history of Christian doctrine in this period, showing extensive knowledge of scholarly readings of the relevant evidence.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to identify and formulate a significant research question on an aspect of the course, and to construct a suitable bibliography by using appropriate search tools.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sara Parvis
Tel: (0131 6)50 8907
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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