TFF4003 – Space, Art and Identity in Synagogue, Church and Mosque

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course has its focus on what we, based on art and archaeological remains, may learn about the development of Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, and Islam, especially in terms of their inter-relationship, from the first century to ca. 750 CE. In addition to an emphasis on social, religious, and political spatial settings, special attention is given to the role of sacred places in processes of identity formation and inter-religious relations.

Why Choose this Course?

The relevance of this course is seen both in recent developments in the academic study of inter-related religions and in increasing needs in modern societies - in which xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise - for professionals educated in religious interaction and conflict resolution.

All of the traditions addressed in the course, Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, and Islam, construe key aspects of their religious identities based on historical claims and concepts that were formed in antiquity, and refer to such historical discourses when addressing contemporary issues involving both conflict and other forms of interaction. The study of the foundational periods of these religions is thus crucial both in terms of understanding modern society and with regard to the analytical skills needed to address issues of concern. Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said: “In fact, if I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated [religion] is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today.” Considering the contemporary global influence of the so-called Abrahamic religions, not least in settings deeply entrenched in conflict and violence, interdisciplinary study of these traditions is more urgent than ever.

Space, Art, and Identity in Synagogue, Church, and Mosque will provide students with an education built on cutting-edge research, preparing them for active engagement with issues of crucial importance in the contemporary world.

The course is a cooperation between the University of Lund and University of Oslo, and held with lecturers from both universities.

Learning outcome

The student will acquire:

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of the development of and the relationship between Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, and Islam, with a focus on Israel/Palestine, from the first century to ca. 750 CE.
  • Advanced knowledge of how the study of art and archaeology may impact our understanding of Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, and Islam with a focus on identity formation and inter- and intra-religious interaction.
  • Skills to critically discuss the relationship between literary sources and archaeological remains, and their significance, respectively, for the reconstruction of historical processes.
  • Skills to apply basic techniques relevant to archaeological excavations.
  • Skills to reflect with insight, and in writing, on the role of sacred space in the shaping of inter-religious relations as well as in processes of identity formation.
  • The ability to demonstrate an analytically rigorous approach to inter-religious relations in various historical and contemporary contexts.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Students must registrer for the course during the first round of course registration for the Spring semester, i.e. by the deadline December 8, 2021.


The course is divided into two parts: 1) web-based teaching (distance learning); 2) a mandatory field trip (self-funded) to Galilee Israel and Jerusalem from May 5th to May 22nd (in RRE terminology equalling a ‘compact seminar’). The field trip includes, among other things, participation in an archaeological excavation in Galilee as well as a week of study in Jerusalem. Students should expect to pay for the airfare to and from Israel, but may apply for funding covering all other costs.

The required readings include approximately 900 pages of secondary literature. Over the semester, students have regular reading and written e-learning assignments, the latter of which are four (4) in number and should be submitted via Canvas.

The online component consists of eight (8) lectures/seminars. Lectures and seminars will also be an important part of the mandatory field trip.

Mandatory requirements

Students must complete four written assignments.


Examination consists of a major paper between 8 to 10 pages in length (Font: Times New Roman, 12 points; 1.5 space).

The students’ level of engagement and interaction during online sessions and during the field trip, as well as their timely submission of assignments, determines whether the they may choose the topic and literature for the major paper. If less than 80% of the requirements have been fulfilled, the instructor determines the topic and literature for the major paper.


Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Spring 2022

Spring 2020

Spring 2018

Spring 2017


Spring 2022

Spring 2020

Spring 2018

Spring 2017

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