Becket Explained: The Cult of Saints

Ref: C3741131

Our focus will be on exploring the earlier cult of saints, up to and including that of Becket, through architecture, archaeology, and texts. Most importantly, we’ll interrogate the biographies of saints in order to unpack what lies beneath. We’ll consider the impact of politics, societies, Christianity, geography and Late-Roman culture on the way cults evolved, in an interactive mix of formal teaching, pair and group activities, research and discussions. Secondary literature will help us to align our sources within the context of trends and more recent analysis by historians.

Course aim

The aim is to develop deeper knowledge and understanding of the earlier-medieval cult of saints c.600 AD – C.1200 AD; and through this long view, of the cult of Thomas Becket in particular.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • describe three forces that helped to shape saints’ cults between C600 AD – C1200 AD
  • apply the vocabulary associated with the Cult of Saints in the Medieval period
  • explain the religious, social and political context of at least two English saint’s cults from the Earlier Medieval Period
  • list reasons why the cult of Thomas Becket took off so quickly after his death in 1170
  • Transfer your knowledge of the Cult of Saints to a new setting, such as a visit to a shrine, and be able to ask pertinent questions in the new setting

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • A pen, pencil and notebook would be useful.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

Becket Explained: The Cult of Saints


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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