Inside the Sistine Chapel

Ref: C3527701

The course reveals the pictorial treasures of one of the world’s most famous buildings: the Sistine Chapel. It examines the ceiling frescoes by Michelangelo and his massive Last Judgment, as well as works by other artists of the highest calibre, notably Botticelli and Raphael.

Additional information about this course

NB There is no session on 30/05/17

Course aim

To investigate one of the most spectacular achievements of the Italian Renaissance: the interior decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, in all its awesome splendour and timeless mystery.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

1.The artistic patronage of Popes Sixtus IV, Julius II, Leo X and Paul III, with special reference to the Sistine Chapel. 2. The Biblical frescoes by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and others. 3. Raphael’s Cartoons in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the resulting Flemish tapestries. 4. Michelangelo’s Biblical ceiling panels illustrating the Creation; Adam and Eve; Noah and the Flood. 5. His depiction of the Prophets and Sybils, and its theological implications. 6. His vision of the Last Judgment.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

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

1. Show how the decoration of the Sistine Chapel functioned as an assertion of Papal power and prestige. 2. Compare and contrast at least TWO of the 15th-century frescoes on the chapel walls. 3. Describe the chief features of Raphael’s Tapestry Cartoons. 4. Summarise and explain the iconography of Michelangelo’s ceiling panels illustrating Genesis. 5. Identify the chief compositional and pictorial elements in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.

How will I know I'm making progress?

The course has no formal assessed assignments, but feedback on learning and achievement operates informally, yet very valuably, in the constant flow of questions, reactions and debate within the group. Individual involvement in this is constantly encouraged.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?


Reading and information sources


What could the course lead to?

This course offers pathways to further study of major Renaissance artists, in particular Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli. It also invites further examination of Papal power and patronage in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries..

Download full course outline

Inside the Sistine Chapel Course Outline

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This course has been cancelled.


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 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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