Great Churches of Medieval Europe


Examining the evolution of the key architectural styles this course will trace development from Early Christian beginnings to the extraordinary forms of the late Gothic.  Building the great cathedral and abbey churches of medieval Europe took an outstanding commitment of resources combined with remarkable technical achievement. Focusing on mainland Europe, examples will be chosen to illustrate the stages of architectural development introduced by Early Christian building from the 4th century included Old St Peter’s and the church of St Paul in Rome. The Romanesque style emerged in the 11th and 12th centuries at many sites from Caen in Normandy and Santiago de Compostela in Spain to Speyer and Mainz in the Rhineland.  Early Gothic style spread rapidly from northern France from the 12th century - the abbey church of St-Denis influenced cathedral building including Notre Dame in Paris. Chartres, Reims and Amiens were among the group of High Gothic cathedrals taking on the technical challenge of awe-inspiring internal height. Gothic forms in France influenced 13th century cathedral building in Spain at Toledo and Burgos. Later the vast Gothic cathedral of Seville was built on the site of the city’s mosque. Cologne and Strasbourg were major 13th century cathedral projects which owed much to France, but the new Gothic cathedrals of Florence and Milan show how the style was substantially modified in Italy.

Programme details

Courses starts: 28 Sep 2022

Week 1:  Introduction and Early Christian - Old St Peter's  

Week 2:  Romanesque - Santiago de Compostela and St-Etienne in Caen

Week 3:  Romanesque - Speyer and Mainz

Week 4:  Early Gothic in France - St-Denis and Notre Dame

Week 5:  High Gothic in France - Chartres and Reims

Week 6:  Rayonnant in France - St-Denis and the Sainte-Chapelle

Week 7:  High Gothic in Spain - Toledo and Burgos 

Week 8:  Gothic in Portugal -  Lisbon's Jeronimos and the abbey of Batalha 

Week 9:  Gothic in German speaking lands - Cologne and Vienna

Week 10:  Gothic in Italy - Florence and Milan


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £238.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Mr Keith Hasted

Keith's initial research focus was Italian Renaissance palace architecture, and he has since developed a special interest in the architecture of cathedrals, not only in England but also in mainland Europe. He has taught courses over a number of years in the OUDCE weekly programme and Summer School and for the WEA.

Course aims

To trace the extraordinary flow of architectural styles in mainland Europe, focussing in detail on chosen examples of the greatest abbeys and cathedrals of the medieval period.

Course Objectives

To enable students to:

Recognise the principal architectural styles of the European great churches

Understand how the styles and building methods developed over the course of the medieval period

Teaching methods

Lectures supported by images and plans of the architecture.

Group seminar discussion

Illustrated notes to accompany each session 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

Understand the key periods and associated styles of medieval architecture in mainland Europe

Recognise how this architecture evolved over the medieval period - as demonstrated in the building of the great abbeys and cathedrals

Identify variation and development in key features of these churches - for example in ground plans, stone vaulting or window tracery.  


Assessment methods

Course members are invited to prepare an assignment as a short essay of no more than around 1500 words.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

No prior knowledge or experience is required.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)