Liturgy Institute London

For a detailed and peaceful study of Liturgy

Liturgical Research Seminar

image of Daniel McCarthy1 – 12 July 2024, weekdays

IL: L701
KULeuven: B-KUL-A07E1A 4 study points

Taught byDaniel McCarthy



At the end of the course each student will be prepared:

i.  to conduct one’s own graduate research in liturgy with skills in three areas: heuristics, hermeneutics and synthetics.

ii. Heuristics: students gather information on the context and sources of an agreed upon prayer.

iii. Hermeneutics: students interpret the prayer in its liturgical context using a selection of analytical tools.

iv. Synthetics: students draw conclusions and develop a reasoned argument on the prayer and its liturgical context, which students communicate in written and oral forms.

Hours: to be determined. Typically 10.00 – 13.00 (including a break)

The course anticipates the student will spend 60 hours in personal reading and study.

Location: Liturgy Institute London (at Ealing Abbey)
74 Castlebar Road Ealing London, W5 2DD, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8194 2320
For further details or to register contact the Institute:
E-mail Clare Cogswell, the Registrar, at this linked E-mail address.
Location on Google Maps is found here.

KU Leuven awards 4 study points upon the successful completion of this graduate course.
The Institutum Liturgicum requires this course for its IL certificate.


Previous knowledge

It is recommended that participants have a general familiarity with the Bible and the history of western civilization in the Christian period in order to understand the general context of the documents examined. A basic ability to compose a written work is necessary before developing the specifics of academic writing. Analysis of liturgical texts assumes a working ability in Latin.



After a general introduction, three encounters are assigned to each of three skills: heuristics, hermeneutics, synthetics. As a seminar, the students are engaged in their own learning process by producing two brief written essays which contribute to a more synthetic essay that forms the basis of an oral presentation during the last encounter.

i. The instructor introduces the general tools for research.

ii. Heuristics: students learn and use several methods to gather the essential body of information on a prayer from designated sources.

iii. Hermeneutics: students learn how to interpret a liturgical prayer in context.

iv. Synthetics: students learn how to develop a reasoned argument and communicate it in oral and written forms to an identified audience.

v. The last encounter includes the oral exam conducted individually.i. Introducing the general tools for research.


Course Material

♦ The Library resources are available to the students including research tools, and editions of Latin liturgical books.

♦ Students with a personal computer, with a LAN cable or wireless connectivity and a UK plug-in adapter will benefit more readily from online resources.

♦ Students are greatly helped by their own electronic or online access to databases of primary texts such as: Bibleworks.

♦ Students enrolled at KU Leuven will have access to the Library of Latin Texts, Brepols.

♦ Students may consult additional books on study skills and the art of writing such as: W.M. Beveridge, The Art of Study, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1965.


Description of learning activities

♦ develop a reasoned understanding of a selection of prayers in their original language

♦ identify the sources of a selection of prayers

♦ interpret a selection of prayers in their liturgical context and present an argument

♦ use library resources and source texts in original languages to study liturgical texts

♦ use online resources for the scientific study of liturgy

♦ participate in class lectures and discussions


Evaluation description

Examination type: written (50%), oral (50%).

When: Written preparation comprises two small essays, which are developed into a concluding essay of 5-7 pages handed in at the beginning of the final session. The oral exam is conducted during the final session.

Explanation: The student and instructor agree on a prayer for study. Students write two brief essays, one presenting two sources underlying the prayer (heuristics) and the other follows one method to interpret the prayer (hermeneutics). Based on oral feedback from the instructor, students revise their written work and draw conclusions which they present in a final essay. Discussion questions ask the student to explain the method used in discovering sources, interpreting the prayer and writing a reasoned argument. The instructor asks questions that help the student come to a more satisfactory explanation of the prayer.

Criteria for evaluation: The student demonstrates a facility with the methods presented in class 1) to discover the context and sources underlying the prayer and 2) to interpret the prayer and 3) to present a coherent argument about the prayer based on their research. The essay is not intended to be a comprehensive study of the prayer, but a demonstration of the methods (heuristics, hermeneutics, synthetics) learned in class. The essay is used to support the student in his or her oral presentation and discussion, and then becomes a written record of the student’s work. The discussion questions are both theoretical, concerning the student’s understanding of the methods presented in class, and applied, concerning the student’s ability to apply these methods to the interpretation of one’s prayer text.

Second opportunity to sit the exam: Because this is an intensive summer course, the opportunity for a second exam is by appointment and depends upon the availability of the instructor.


Note: Students must be over 18 years of age.

This course has been designed to be taken alone or in conjunction with L702 Liturgy in the WestHistory and Context as the foundational courses of the programme of studies in liturgy. Otherwise, this course may be taken with L705 Theology of the Liturgy.

If students enrol in two concurrent courses, they may wish to prepare for the intensive schedule by reading suggested texts before the course begins.

The instructor will arrange with the students to be available regularly for some time at the Institute and is also available by appointment.

Students and the public are invited to attend the annual St Bede Lecture, to be held at Ealing Abbey on Saturday afternoon 6 July at 2.30 PM.



Non residential day students are welcome.

Limited accommodation is available through Ealing Abbey house for guests or other religious houses or nearby.


Additional information from KU Leuven course web-site

 Academic year: 2024−2025
 Study points: 4
 Language: English
 Difficulty: Master’s level-Introductory
 Duration: 26.0 hours
 Periodicity: Taught annually in Block I
 POC: POC Theology and Religious Studies


This course is included in

Research Master of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion (120 ECTS)

Master of Theology and Religious Studies Study Abroad Programme in European Culture and Society (PECS).

A link to the course descriptor at KU Leuven is not yet available, but the course is based on one previously offered (link here).

Page updated on 22 July 2023 by DM.