We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: History

HIST46530: Interreligious communication in the medieval Mediterranean

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To help students develop an independent command of primary source material in the history of interreligious communication in the medieval Mediterranean; and to assist students to gain an increased appreciation of the diverse nature, forms, and cultural contexts of the sources;
  • To support student’s growing ability to deploy different methods and techniques to interrogate the primary sources; and to help students develop a deep engagement with historiographical and theoretical trends as well as historical interpretations in the history of interreligious communication.


  • The medieval Mediterranean was an important meeting place for people of different faiths, ethnicities and tongues. Particularly those areas that experienced religious and political expansions, such as North Africa, the Iberian peninsula, Southern France or the Mediterranean islands, were characterised by a high-level of diverse Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. Communication between the representatives of these communities was key on almost all levels of society and connected groups and individuals on a transregional scale. But how and by what means did they communicate? Which language did they use? What were the contexts in which they communicated and what were such communications about? Were they characterised by polemic or friendly interaction?
  • The course will give an introduction to the styles and substance of sources and their transmission resulting from interreligious communication. We will discuss prevalent historiographical arguments about the nature of interreligious contacts and conflicts, and revisit narratives of hostile “clashes of civilisation” or peaceful “Convivencia”. We shall consider such views and work towards an understanding of the diversity and multiplicity of interreligious communications; of the relationship between rulers and political entities; between rulers and their (minority) subjects; we will analyse day-to-day contacts; relationships between religious individuals or groups, the institutions and the societies they represent.
  • Initial sessions will be devoted to theories and concepts of interreligious communication, contact and conflicts. The later sessions will be structured around different themes and means of communication; the seminars will centre on texts representative of these, so that a number of different types of communication will be explored through a diverse body of sources.
  • Themes for study may include: diplomacy, trade, law/legal dispute, conquests, food/feasts, prayer, family/marriage, science/teaching/scholarship, neighbourship.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To gain an advanced knowledge of key aspects of Jewish-Christian-Muslim communication in the medieval Mediterranean
  • To develop a firm understanding of historiographical and conceptual approaches
  • To learn how to work around linguistic barriers
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      • • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
      • Seminars require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; set reading of secondary and, where appropriate, primary readings; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of interreligious communication in the medieval Mediterranean
      • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience.
      • Assessment is by means of a 5000-word essay which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of the topic. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis, and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Introduction 1 Once 2 hours 2
      Seminars 10 Weekly/Fortnightly 2 hours 20
      Preparation and Reading 278

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Summative Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay 5000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      20-minute oral presentation and 2000-word primary source commentary

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University