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Level 5

5AAT2045 Salvation and the City: Christian Faith and the Arts


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Professor Ben Quash
Assessment: One 2,000-word essay (40%) and one 2,500-word essay (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none
Places available: 30 (students on BA Theology, Religion & Culture are prioritised first)

NB There are limited places available on this module due to its taking place in part at the National Gallery, so if you select this module on your module registration form, please submit an alternative choice.

The module will use as its raw material the artistic resources of London, as encountered in its galleries, churches, theatres, cinemas and streets. It will teach how Christian scripture, beliefs and practices have helped to shape a great world city through the arts.

This module will consist of mixed lecture and discussion sessions, and will involve students making a visit to some major London arts institutions. It will be taught in ten two-hour sessions. The list of topics gives a typical course outline, but the precise locations and sequence of the field trips may vary.

Sample topics

Session 1: The London Imaginary
Session 2: The Painted Word on ‘the Nation’s Mantelpiece’ (The National Gallery)
Session 3: The Divine Drama: Religion and Theatre in London
Session 4: The Christian Skyline: St Paul’s Cathedral
Session 5: Voicing the City’s Praise: Christianity and Music in London
Session 6: The Christian Skyline: Hawksmoor (St George’s Bloomsbury and St Mary Woolnoth)
Session 7: The Christian Skyline: Westminster Abbey
Session 8: Sacred Texts: Christianity in Literary London
Session 9: God in the Celluloid City
Session 10: ‘Museums and Galleries are the New Cathedrals; Cathedrals are the New Museums’

Further information

Module aims

To show the way that in successive eras the living tradition of Christianity and the ‘living book’ of the Bible have found expression in a variety of artistic media, including painting, architecture, literature, music and film. In particular, to assess how Christian scripture, beliefs and practices have helped to shape a great world city through the arts.

Learning outcomes

Generic skills

  • Ability to engage sensitively and critically with primary sources (works of art as well as written theology);
  • Ability to access and analyse relevant secondary literature;
  • Ability to summarise and present arguments in discussion and on paper;
  • Ability to research, plan and present essays to specified deadlines.

Module specific skills

  • Sensitive observation of the diversity of ways in which biblical texts and Christian beliefs and practices have inspired artistic responses over many centuries;
  • Appreciation of the particular modes of creativity of these interpretations and applications (theological, artistic and social);
  • Understanding of the religious and civic history of London as manifested in the art forms it contains.
Past syllabi

Previous syllabus document available here for academic year 2015-16.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.




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