The Liberal Arts Curriculum
Medieval Universities

During the Middle Ages, the liberal arts curriculum prepared individuals for careers in the church, business, law and education. A liberal arts education also came to be synonymous with the idea of the well-round, well-educated person. Programatically,it came to be the standard for a university education for hundreds of years to come.

The term liberal, derived from the Latin liberalis, has its roots in the word meaning "free." A liberal education thus infers that the arts of the mind are different from the manual or mechanical arts. Furthermore, the underlying implication is that the discipline and enrichment provided by a liberal arts education "frees" individuals from the chaos of irrationality.

The course of study with its different disciplines that came to be adopted by medieval universities was derived from the Aristotelian models of Ancient Greece. This body of knowledge had been divided into separate categories known as disciplines, thus establishing a model of categorization and organization that still forms the basis of academic disciplines today.

In the medieval period, the liberal arts consisted of seven disciplines that were divided into the three verbal arts known as the trivium, and the four other subjects that were known collectively as the quadrivium.

Corpus Christi College, Oxford

The Trivium

Magdalen College,Oxford

The Quadrivium

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