Students will gain an appreciation and understanding of the symbolic and theological meaning of icons. This is a practical unit where emphasis will be placed on the "writing" of icons as an important method of transforming the sacred invisible into the visible image. Students will study the important role of sacred art in Coptic culture and its role in liturgical life. Finally, students will develop skills and techniques required for writing icons such as preparation, design, colouring and gilding.

Unit code: DL8410A

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Liturgy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate the role of icons in the Church.


Appraise the theological world view from which icon writing emerged.


Evaluate the symbolic meaning of the iconic forms, of the materials and of the processes involved.


Develop the technical skill of icon writing, such as design, gilding and colouring.


Create key theological principles in iconographic representations.


Combination of pre-recorded lectures, guided reading, and practical face to face classes.

Indicative Bibliography

Anderson, David (trans.). St. John of Damascus: On the Divine Images. New York: SVS Press, 2000.

Atalla S, Nabil. Coptic Icons I & II. Cairo: Lehnert and Landrock, 1998.

Badawy, Alexander. Coptic art and archaeology: The art of the Christian Egyptians from the Late Antique to the Middle Ages. London: MIT Press, 1978.

Evdokimov, Paul. The Art of the Icon: A Theology of Beauty. New York: SVS Press, 1990.

Margaret Jensen, Robin. Understanding Early Christian Art. USA: Routledge, 2013.

Nouwen, Henri J.M. Behold the beauty of the Lord. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1996.

Ouspensky, Leonid. Trans. Anthony Gythiel. Theology of the Icon. New York: SVS Press, 1992.

Ouspensky, Leonid, Vladimir Nikolaevič Losskij, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. New York: SVS Press, 1982.

Tsakiridou, C. A. Icons in Time, Persons in Eternity: Orthodox Theology and the Aesthetics of the Christian Image. London: Ashgate Publishing, 2013.

Vrame, Anton C. The Educating Icon: Teaching Wisdom and Holiness in the Orthodox Way. Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1999.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Visual Art Work

Visual art work (sketch) and accompanying write-up. Equiv. 3000 words.

Visual Art Work

Visual art work (icon) and accompanying write-up. Equiv. 4000 words.


Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 14 Oct, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-10-14 15:22:58 +1100