The Pilgrim Journey through Time

Course details

From £205.00
10 CATS points

02 Oct 2018 - 04 Dec 2018
Day of week

The Pilgrim Journey through Time


What does pilgrimage mean to people today? What did it mean in the Middle Ages? Focusing on pilgrimage in Western culture, this course explores how pilgrims’ beliefs, practices and experiences have continued, developed and changed over time.

We will examine popular pilgrimage motifs – such as health and healing, hardship and challenge, sacred landscape, fellowship, spiritual journeying and quest – and reveals what pilgrimage can tell us about society and culture both today and in the past.

Programme details

Term Starts:   2nd October      


Week 1:          Introduction: Pilgrimage in context

Week 2:          Medieval pilgrimage

Week 3:          Modern, post-secular pilgrimage

Week 4:          Sacred landscape

Week 5:          Hardship and challenge

Week 6:          Health and healing

Week 7:          Pilgrim identity and community

Week 8:          Inner spiritual journeys

Week 9:          Transformative experiences

Week 10:        Conclusion


Background Reading List

Sumption, Jonathan., The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God

Harpur, James., The Pilgrim Journey: A History of Pilgrimage in the Western World

Frey, Nancy Louise., On and Off the Road to Santiago: Journeys Along an Ancient Way in Modern Spain

Reader, Ian., Pilgrimage: A Very Short Introduction

Whalen, Brett Edward., Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages: A Reader

Nolan, Mary Lee and Nolan, Sidney., Christian Pilgrimage in Modern Western Europe


If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September and we will try to ensure that as many titles as possible are available in the Library by the start of each term. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.


Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List


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 between January 1st and July 31st after the current 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.


Course Fee: £205.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Anne Bailey

Anne Bailey is a research associate at the History Faculty at Oxford University. She has taught medieval and early modern history at the University of Exeter, and currently teaches Women’s History at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. 

Course aims

The aim of the course is to explore key themes and ideas which recur within the western pilgrimage tradition, and ask what these can tell us about society, religion and cultural change. 

Course Objectives

1. To familiarise students with recurrent themes in the western pilgrimage tradition

2. To enable students to understand the social, cultural and religious conditions which have shaped pilgrimage practices and beliefs in the Middle Ages and in our own times

3. To encourage students to contribute their own experiences and ideas in class discussions and in written assignments

Teaching methods

The course is taught through a mixture of informal lectures using PowerPoint, group discussion and small group exercises. A small amount of reading will be set each week.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Understand the changing nature of western pilgrimage across time

2.  Evaluate a number of common pilgrimage themes within their medieval and contemporary contexts

3. Assess the social, cultural and spiritual role of pilgrimage in medieval and modern western societies

Assessment methods

Students are required to write a 1,500 word essay on a topic of their choice, to be agreed in advance by the tutor. They are encouraged to prepare a formative 500-word essay plan 2-3 weeks before the deadline so that feedback can be given.

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.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. 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

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)