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Choices part time courses for adults Adult education courses at Cardiff University

Medieval Art and Architecture I

Level 0 (CQFW Level 3), 10 Credits.

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A course of illustrated lectures on medieval art and architecture as seen in cathedrals and abbeys.  Emphasis will be on their importance as an expression of the spirit of the age. A wide selection of buildings will be examined, each having artistic merit and mirroring the history of the locality.

The programme will include the following buildings:

Durham: With its group of castle, cathedral and monastery, situated high on a rock in a loop of the River Wear, is ‘one of the great experiences of Europe to the eyes of those who appreciate architecture, and to the minds of those who understand architecture’ (N. Peusner). It is the greatest and the grandest Norman church in England, completed in 1133, with few later additions.

Ripon (Yorks): A small monastery was founded here c. 660 and of the churches built by Wilfrid, the crypt survives. The present cathedral is a mixture of all medieval styles of architecture. The 15th century choir stalls are among the most splendid in the country.

Jarrow (Durham): Here, in 681, Benedict Biscop founded a monastery as the second half of the Wearmouth/Jarrow complex. Above the chancel arch is the oldest surviving church dedicatory inscription in Britain, recording the consecrations of this church as 23 April, 685. In this monastery Bede wrote his Ecclesiastical History.

Wells (Soms): Established in 909. The present structure, however, was begun at the end of the 12th century and is best known for its spectacular 13th century west front.

Glastonbury (Soms): Shrouded in myth and legend, the extensive ruins we see today are the remains of what was once perhaps the most famous and richest monastery in Britain. Founded c. 700, it suffered a disastrous fire in 1184 after which a series of great abbots created a magnificent new complex. The abbey’s final disaster came with dissolution by Henry VIII in 1538.

Each building will be examined in depth: its history, socio-economic context, the particular aspects of theology emphasised during the various phases of its building, the influences on its art and architecture and, in the case of larger churches, of their patrons. All these have created the buildings that we see today.

Who is this course for?

Anyone with an interest in the topic. This is a Level 0 (foundation) course, so no previous knowledge is assumed.

Learning and Teaching

There will be a series of illustrated lectures, with plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion.

Coursework and Assessment

Students are encouraged to keep a course diary, and have the option of writing an essay.

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

C.Platt: The Parish Churches of Medieval England, London 1981 or more recent reprint London 1995.       
R.Morris: Churches in the Landscape, London 1989.
S.Jenkins: England’s Thousand Best Churches, Penguin, London 1990.

For Reference:
G.Webb: Architecture in Britain. The Middle Ages, Pelican History of Art, Harmondsworth 1956 (or later reprints, now produced by Yale).
J.Betjeman (Ed.): Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches, 3rd. ed., 2 vols, London 1968.  Brief entries divided into North and South.
David Macaulay: Cathedral: the Story of Its Construction. Collins, 1974, 1976, 1979.
Thomas Maude: Guided by a Stonemason: Cathedrals, Abbeys and Churches of Britain Unveiled, I B Tauris & Co Ltd; 1997
P. & L. Murray: The Oxford Companion to Christian Art & Architecture, Oxford 1996.
Henry Thorold : Collins Guide To Cathedrals, Abbeys And Priories Of England And Wales, Collins, 1986.

Also, relevant volumes in the N. Pevsner Buildings of England (Pevsner Architectural Guides) series.

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on
(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.