The core module in the MA in Christian Liturgy runs every year with optional modules running every other year in rotation.
All of our MA modules are open to all, so anyone may enrol in a module as an “auditor” without registering for the full MA programme. An auditor participates in a module in exactly the same way as students on the MA, but does not prepare an essay at the end of it.
Approaches to Liturgical Study
This module introduces students to the sources and methods used by scholars in the evaluation and interpretation of liturgical forms. These include those used for historical, theological and ritual analysis. It will equip students with skills in the critical evaluation of various sources and create awareness of the presuppositions which lie behind much liturgical scholarship. As further preparation for the degree, students will be introduced to the research and writing skills for work at Master’s level.
This module explores the most significant developments of eucharistic worship from the New Testament to the contemporary church. Students will gain an understanding of the theological, historical and social influences upon the Eucharist and the debates surrounding different interpretations of its meaning. Through study of recent ecumenical conversations, students will be encouraged to relate their study to contemporary church contexts.
Many Western Churches have significantly revised their baptismal liturgies in the last fifty years in response to the changing place of the church in society, the fruits of liturgical scholarship in assessing patterns of the early church and ecumenical exchange. This module will examine key historical periods which provide a context for contemporary rites and the theologies which lie behind them. There will be a field visit to consider the liturgical features of a font (for example, Salisbury Cathedral).
Liturgy and Mission
The church in the west faces new challenges of maintaining and communicating its identity in what is sometimes referred to as a ‘post-Christian’ society. In this context the practice of public worship is receiving fresh attention as a means of articulating and embodying the missio Dei, the mission of God. This module will explore how recent developments in scholarship and practice are bringing the two disciplines of liturgical studies and missiology into conversation with one another. The module will introduce students to different ways of understanding the relationship between mission and liturgy by analysing the implications and theological assumptions of each approach. Reflection on these issues will be encouraged by close attention given to liturgical examples, drawn from contemporary and historical sources, and policy documents of the church and their critics. Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on the implications of the material discussed for their own liturgical context.
Music in Christian Worship
Music is a significant feature of much Christian worship, whether chanted psalms, congregational hymns, liturgical texts arranged for choirs or contemporary worship songs. This module explores the variety of musical styles in Christian worship from both historical and contemporary perspectives and draws upon critical themes in musicology, theology and pastoral liturgy. It will equip students to make informed assessments of music choices in the liturgical events of different ecclesial settings. Musical skill or knowledge, while beneficial, is not required.
Liturgy and Time: Calendar and Daily Prayer
This module will explore the ways in which Christian worship has been influenced by its relationship with time. The study of Daily Prayer and the Church’s Year (Calendar) provide the twin foci for this exploration. The way Christians have developed daily patterns of prayer will be investigated, together with the constituent elements of this form or prayer, such as the use of psalms, scripture and intercessory prayer. The historical origins and evolution of the Christian festivals together with their theological and ritual meaning will form the basis of an analysis of annual rhythms of prayer. Contemporary revisions of either Daily Prayer or Calendar will be studied and students will be encouraged to relate their study to their own and other church contexts.
Worship, Art and Architecture
The space in which Christian worship takes place is influenced by the culture of the age and place as well as ecclesiology. This module will investigate church buildings and their art in significant historical periods in order to highlight the way each artefact is the result of a confluence of variables. The theoretical notion of ‘sacred space’ will be explored and students will be encouraged to reflect upon the use of liturgical space in specific contexts. There will be a guided tour of the architectural features of a church (e.g. Salisbury Cathedral).
Liturgy and Spirituality
The module engages with the relationship between spirituality and liturgy. Attention will be paid to complexity of the ways in which they relate, both conceptually and with reference to debates, such as the historic conflict between liturgy and popular piety. Students will have the opportunity to study specific examples of liturgical practice from a variety of Christian traditions, and in so doing develop their ability to interpret liturgical prayer as a form of spirituality.
Liturgy and Culture
This module will investigate the relationship between liturgy and its changing cultural contexts. This is a topic that has become increasingly important for churches as they reassess their relationship to society and for liturgical studies as churches and scholars recognise the significance of cultural context for liturgical development. The module will introduce students to different ways of understanding the relationship between culture and liturgy, and the implications and theological assumptions of each approach. Reflection on these issues will be in relation to liturgical examples and policy documents of the church and their critics. Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on the implications of the material discussed for their own liturgical context.