ATS3573 - The Renaissance codes: Art, magic and belief - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit


Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Peter Howard


Dr Tomas Zahora

Not offered in 2018




This unit examines the history and ideas underpinning popular representations of Christianity in modern texts such as The Da Vinci Code, and Angels and Demons. It aims to investigate the construction of religious cultures in their broader context, with particular emphasis on the fifteenth-century revival of late antique Christianity and esoteric philosophies. Topics will include representations of the life of Jesus; the function of saints' lives (e.g. Mary Magdalene); relics and legends; the role of 'secret' societies; the impact of new thinking on artists (da Vinci, Botticelli) and the implications of heresy, magic and sorcery.


Students successfully completing this unit will have:

  1. Developed a critical understanding of the historical construction of religious cultures;
  2. Acquired an understanding of Renaissance Christianity in the context of the revival of classical antiquity;
  3. Explored the complex history of the traditions surrounding saints' lives and the function of these traditions in different historical contexts;
  4. Reflected on the role of relics and legends in Renaissance Christianity;
  5. Explored the role of societies and confraternities in Renaissance Christianity;
  6. Examined the impact of new thinking in relation to the textual, architectural and artistic representations;
  7. Examined the role of women, and theologies of womanhood, in Renaissance Christianity;
  8. Developed an understanding of the role of myth and symbol in religion; Reflected on reasons underpinning the attractions of popularized (and often fictional) myths and legends of Christianity;

  9. Acquired the capacity to analyse contemporary representations of historical material;
  10. Had opportunities to work effectively with others and to express ideas verbally in group situations;
  11. Developed skills in bibliographic research, analysis, and written expression;
  12. Become capable of independently devising and executing an advanced research project in the above areas of study, based predominantly on primary sources;


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study