AH30600 From Constantinople to Istanbul: Art, Faith, Politics

Academic Year 2023/2024

From its ancient beginnings as the town of Byzantion, the city now known as Istanbul has captured the collective imagination of many over the centuries. This module examines the art and the built environment of the city, from its expansion in the Roman period, to its re-foundation as the Byzantine capital Constantinople, to its Ottoman transformation into modern Istanbul. As different groups—Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottomans—took control of the city, they shaped its architecture to proclaim the power and grandeur of their cultures and religions, commissioning magnificent monuments such as the church of Hagia Sophia, the Süleymaniye Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, as well as icon paintings, reliquaries, and manuscripts. The module will allow students to engage with archaeological and literary evidence, bringing to life lost buildings such as the Great Palace and the Church of the Holy Apostles. When possible, class field trips to local collections (the Chester Beatty, the National Gallery, UCD Special Collections) will allow students to see objects associated with the city in person.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the completion of this small-group seminar-based module, students will be able to:
-Identify and describe the major monuments of the city of Constantinople (Istanbul), as well as the key works of art produced by the city's workshops during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods
-Describe the important periods of and themes in the city's history, and how these were reflected in its art and architecture
-Demonstrate a close familiarity with a monument or object associated with the city, developed through reading, discussion, critical thinking, and research

Indicative Module Content:

The weekly topics for lecture and seminar discussion include: From Byzantion to Constantinople; Sculpture in the Capital; Justinianic Architecture; Iconoclasm; Middle Byzantine Art and Architecture; Byzantine Manuscripts; The Fourth Crusade; Palaiologan Art and Architecture; Ottoman Istanbul; Ottoman Baroque; Constantinople Today

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)


Field Trip/External Visits




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module is a small-group module, with weekly lectures and seminars. The lecture provides an introduction to the week's topic, and the seminar focuses on discussion, debate, and presentation. Support materials, including the weekly readings, will be available on Brightspace. When possible, students will be encouraged to visit relevant local collections, such as the Chester Beatty or UCD Special Collections. Students will be assessed through research presentations, an essay, and a learning journal that will allow students to reflect on class discussions and collections visits. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Continuous Assessment: Participation; Leading a Class Discussion (10%); Learning Journal (20%) Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 3,000-word essay Week 11 n/a Graded No


Presentation: Oral presentation of research in seminar Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the discussion leader presentations, research presentations, learning journals and essays will be returned to students within two weeks of the assignment due date. Students will have the opportunity to meet individually with the lecturer to discuss all feedback.

Name Role
Prolet Decheva Tutor