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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: Theology and Religion

THEO45630: High Medieval Franciscan Theology

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


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • N/A


  • To familiarize students with the key features and contributions of high medieval Franciscan theology and philosophy.
  • Through engagement with relevant primary sources to understand the contribution made by the early Franciscan masters to key areas of Christian doctrine, such as: Trinitarian theology, the theology of the Incarnation and the atonement, the relationship between theology and philosophy, the doctrines of creation, and the nature and identity of the human person. Figures studied may include amongst others: Alexander of Hales and the authors of the Summa Halensis, Robert Grosseteste, St. Bonaventure, Bl. Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham.


  • This module will offer an in-depth exposition of the key contributions to Christian doctrine made by the leading Franciscan thinkers of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-centuries. Through an in-depth engagement with the relevant primary sources, it will familiarize the student with the highly innovative theological and philosophical contributions made by the early Franciscan masters. The areas of doctrine studied will include areas such as: Trinitarian theology, the Incarnation, the doctrine of creation, human nature and cognition, the relationship between faith and reason, and purpose of theological enquiry and the practice of Christian life and virtue.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A systematic understanding of key aspects of the thinking of the early Franciscan theologians, through exposure to primary texts and engagement with relevant secondary literature.
  • A critical evaluation of the achievements and limitations of early Franciscan theology in light of our contemporary theological concerns and issues.
  • A broader understanding of the development of Christian thought in the medieval period (and scholasticism in particular), and of the way the thought of the early Franciscan masters is shaped by its historical context (including their Franciscan calling and setting in the world of universities).
  • An insight into the influence of medieval Franciscan thought on subsequent Christian theology and the question of the origins of “modernity”.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to read, interpret and evaluate critically the thought of the early Franciscan masters on the basis of primary and secondary sources.
Key Skills:
  • Development of analytical insight, the ability to engage critically with philosophical and theological arguments.
  • Ability to grasp, summarize, and critically evaluate concepts, arguments and knowledge in written form.

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

  • Seminar-style lectures so as to enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding through engagement with primary texts, promoting awareness of different approaches and hermeneutical perspectives, improving skills in the analysis of texts, concepts and arguments.
  • Summative essays assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding by engaging carefully with primary texts and secondary literature.
  • Formative presentation to enable students to summarize, evaluate, and present key topics from the thought of the early Franciscan theologians.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture/Seminar 10 1 per fortnight 2 Hours 20
Preparation and Reading 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (Epiphany Term) 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will be asked to give oral presentations of about 15-20 minutes.

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