History of Christianity

Level 5 - DT2001-03

This module introduces the central events, personalities, movements and ideas that have influenced the history of Christianity from the first to the twenty-first century.

This module provides an overview of the experiences, theological debates and socio-political contexts that have impacted the development of Christianity from a sect of Judaism into a global religion.  It critically analyses notable turning points in the evolution of this religion and highlights both the reforms and ruptures that brought about its three major branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. Students should expect to reflect critically on the reconfiguration of Christianity over time, forming their own interpretation of its historical and contemporary significance.    

Topics covered

Main topics of the module include:

  • Jewish and Non-Jewish Christianity
  •  Early Christian Martyrdom: Perceptions and Realities
  • Imperial and Conciliar Christianity
  • Medieval Reform and Rupture
  • Medieval Christianity: Conquest and Creativity 
  • The Protestant Reformations
  • The Radical and Catholic Reformations
  • Christianity during the Age of Enlightenment 
  • Christianity during the Age of World War
  • Ecumenism, Vatican II, and the Global Realignment of Christianity

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be expected to be able to: 

Knowledge and understanding 

  • Recognise significant individuals, texts, events, and contexts that shaped the history of Christianity; 
  • Identify important turning points in the history of this religion (e.g. its legalization in 311 during the reign of the Emperor Constantine);
  • Understand both the historical origins and principal distinctions between the three major branches of Christianity: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy; 

Intellectual and cognitive skills 

  • Think critically and creatively about the development of Christianity;
  • Understand and apply models of causation (materialist, idealist, etc.) to the history of Christianity;
  • Consider the relationship between various causes (underlying, intensifying, and catalytic) to shaping historical events;
  • Identify the difference between primary and secondary sources;

Practical and transferable skills 

  • Investigate historical claims in light of both argument and evidence;
  • Practice drawing their own historical conclusions based on analysis of historical evidence as well as engagement with relevant historical arguments;
  • Produce clear, concise, and coherent historical analysis and argument.  


A two thousand-word essay (40%) and a 1.5-hour unseen written examination (60%).

Tutor in History of Christianity

Divinity Tutor: Dr Michael Hahn

Dr Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn is a medieval church historian and theologian whose work focuses on the early-Franciscan mystical tradition. In January 2020, he received a PhD from the University of St Andrews for a thesis examining the Franciscan mysticism of Bonaventure and Angela of Foligno. Prior to this, he gained a master's degree in Ecclesiastical History from the University of Oxford and an undergraduate degree in Theological Studies from the University of St Andrews. He continues to work on the early Franciscan order, and his current research focuses on the reception of Angela of Foligno's Liber.