Centre for Marian Studies

University of Roehampton

Director: Dr Sarah Jane Boss
Registered Charity 1066253
Monday 17 December 2018
O Wisdom

The Theology and Cult of the Virgin Mary

A course for home study

Assumption window, Rhyl


A year-long course of home study with additional tutorials, optional study days and residential sessions

Course content

Devotion to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, has been central to Christian practice from early times and continues to flourish across the globe. Marian devotion is varied and colourful, providing a fascinating subject for study, as well as being a source of artistic and spiritual inspiration. Mariology is one of the most intriguing and demanding areas of Christian theology, whilst modern debates surrounding feminism, ecumenism and social justice have led to Mary’s significance being contested and re-evaluated.

This course is designed to give the student an introduction to the study of the theology and cult of the Virgin Mary in Christianity. It addresses historical, theological, art historical and social scientific questions.

This is an academic course which is open to all who are suitably qualified. It is taught by scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Course structure

The course is comprised of six units selected from the following:

  • The first five centuries of the Christian era
  • The Middle Ages
  • Mariology: the systematic theology of the Virgin Mary
  • Shrines and apparitions
  • The visual arts
  • Goddesses and Mary
  • Long essay (or comparable assignment)

The first five units are each taught by use of printed texts and on-line resources, together with correspondence with a tutor. The student also has a face-to-face tutorial for each of these units, and submits a piece of written work of about 2,500 words. For Unit 6, the student undertakes a detailed study of a subject of choice, guided by a tutor, and submits a piece of work of about 5,000 words, or an equivalent assignment.


Course material is provided in print and on line. Students who do not have easy access to the internet may receive all material in print. A tutor will correspond with the student about his or her work, and, for students in Britain, a tutor will be appointed within the student’s geographical region, so that tutorials can be arranged at the student’s and tutor’s mutual convenience. Students are also encouraged to attend study days and conferences organised by the CMS, and will not be charged for attending lectures and papers at these events. Students on the home study course may use the CMS library in Roehampton without charge.

The course tutors include:

  • Professor Tina Beattie (University of Roehampton)
  • Dr. Sarah Jane Boss (Director of the CMS)
  • Dr. Melanie Landman (University of Roehampton)
  • Professor Andrew Louth (Durham University)
  • Dr. Chris Maunder (York St. John University)
  • Dr. Cathy Oakes (University of Oxford)
  • Dr. Catherine O’Brien (Kingston University)

Academic standard

The course does not have official accreditation, and this enables us to keep the cost to a minimum. However, most students will have a first degree, or equivalent professional qualification. The course provides a route back into study for those who have not been in formal education in recent years; it also provides a bridging course for students who have previously studied other disciplines, but who now wish to pursue theology, church history, or religious studies. But the course should be undertaken primarily out of interest in this area of study!


Students can enrol to start in April, September or January. The first enrolment is for April 1st 2014. Each module should take about two months to complete, so that a student will normally have completed the course in one calendar year.


The fee for the course is £590, and should be paid in advance. It may sometimes be possible to accept payment in two six-monthly instalments. A reduced fee may be available for students on low incomes. Please enquire.

Contact details

Dr. Sarah Jane Boss
Department of Humanities
University of Roehampton
Roehampton Lane
SW15 5PU

The Centre for Marian Studies is a registered charity
(Charity Registration no. 1066253)

Image: Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Rhyl