Heresy and magic in Early Modern Europe

This course explores some of the most prevalent, radical and dangerous ideas in early modern Europe: heretical and occult beliefs. Among the topics we study are demonic and angelic magic, astrology, mysticism, pornography, and the Inquisition. The course uses historical, literary, sociological and psychological approaches to discuss a variety of texts and images. 

Indicative class topics  

  • Introduction to mentalities and early modern society - the Bible and scriptural scholarship; prophecy and millenarian beliefs 
  • Hermeticism and the ancient wisdom - the belief in a tradition of esoteric and occult knowledge
  • Demons and the Devil - demonic possession,  witchcraft and black magic
  • Angels - angelology and angel magic
  • Astrology and alchemy
  • Mysticism - Jewish Cabbala, numerology and mathematics
  • Sex and pornography 
  • Inquisitions - the Spanish and Roman inquisitions
  • Sects and heresies in early modern England
  • Conclusion. 

15 credits at level 4

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students. You may have to fulfil specific prerequisites for some intermediate-level or advanced-level courses, but these will be specified where relevant.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You enrol directly onto the classes you would like to take, using the Enrol Now link below. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis – so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then enrol onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.

First class: Wed 25-Apr-18 11am-1pm

Class location Central London
Class code SSHC441H4AAA