Francis Adam, Theology and Religious Studies BA
"Don’t presume that you will be learning purely about the past, you can walk out of a lecture and see something you've learned applied in society, in real time."
Why Theology and Religious Studies?
"I've always been involved in religion and my family is quite religious, yet even just within my family there are different ways of practising religion. I’d wonder why does my auntie worship one way and mother another?
I was in between studying theology and studying the social sciences, the fact that I could explore both of these within the theology degree was something that made it stand out to me.
I followed the advice to do something you're interested in, and something you're good at."
It's a very broad subject that touches on a lot of areas and opens you up to a lot of ideas and understandings about people. We’ve covered philosophy, history, media, literature, law and international relations. If you love thinking and to present arguments, sharing your views and challenging other people’s then I’d encourage you to study Theology and Religious Studies.
What have been your favourite modules?
"One of the modules I'm doing currently is called Women and Warfare in the Hebrew Bible, and that is interesting because we're looking at how gender is represented in the Old Testament, and do these ideas still exist in society today? Did these ideas have a positive or negative impact on the women? And why would it be presented in this way? What is missing from these narratives and how do they inform understanding someone?
Also I very much enjoyed Virtue, Ethics and Literature, which looks at applying religious ideas but to literary text and the real world. We covered a wide range of texts from Plato and Aristotle to Iris Murdoch. It’s a great module to help discuss theology with students outside the discipline as everyone has an understanding of morals and ethics and access to books.
Religion, Media and Ethics was another great module which looked at the application of theology to contemporary media, such as should the media be held accountable for how they report? Is there such a thing as journalism ethics? Or are they just, like, telling stories therefore they don't have control of how that's interpreted?"
"My career aspirations are an ongoing process. At uni I’ve been involved in being a course rep and The Education Network which has given me the opportunity to look at how you can make the educational experience better, which has led me to consider teaching.
I like the idea of spending time at uni learning something that you find really interesting, and then being able to share that with hundreds of people on a daily basis, to curate their world interest and encourage people to ask questions.
As it's a humanities subject you literally get to stop and think and understand people in a whole new way. I don't think we do enough of this as a society which goes a long way in explaining why there were so many different tensions in the world currently.
I would also quite like to go into politics or PR, because as an extrovert I enjoy working and engaging with people. I think what I've learned on my degree so far - such as focussing on understanding why people believe what they believe and how that informs their behaviour - would be very useful for that."
Unusual inspiration for a dissertation
"Recently I’ve been watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix and I’ve found it fascinating how the show is built on the premise of subverting Christianity. It’s interesting how their religion is presented as something in its own right but that it also needs Christianity to co-exist. This would give me the opportunity to combine themes from my two of my favourite modules: Virtue, Ethics and Literature; and Religion, Media and Ethics. There's a lot going on in terms of Jewish representation in the show and I’d love to unpack that."
Any staff shout-outs?
"Alison Milbank is amazing, she’s so approachable and very friendly and always willing to help. Whenever I’ve been in touch she was more than happy to help. She's one of the people who helps make Theology feel very friendly.
Dr Sara Parks is very, very energetic and again is very friendly and approachable and always offering to help.
The staff have been great. Whenever I’ve had an issue (whether it be course based or not) I can write them an email and often within 20 minutes I’ve had a reply. This isn’t something I expected especially coming from school where it can take days for a teacher to reply."
Working as a mentor
"I worked with IntoUniversity in part of their mentoring scheme where you get paired with a school pupil. You meet (usually online) and help them focus on what their targets are and how they can achieve them. I found it really beneficial because it was nice to interact with Nottingham as a community in a wider sense and also to get in touch with what and how young people are thinking and feeling."
Building a community through the Students' Union
"I’m the Public Relations Officer for the One Heritage society which was set up to create a space for marginalised students so they could educate themselves on their history, heritage and culture. Also to encourage and empower each other, but also this society exists to act as a type of bridge to establish relations within, and outside the university.
For Black History Month we organised an event called The Exhibition which was an art exhibition promoting Black art created by students where we could meet with other students, former students and students from another university.
Another event we've got coming up is called Be Connected which looks at helping young black students and other minority students get ahead in terms of the career ladder.
I’m also a member of the African/Caribbean Society which I joined because I wanted to meet more students who came from a similar background. Also I knew, being a Theology student, it wouldn’t be surprising if I was the only minority student in the classroom. Sometimes that’s not a problem at all as people are very accepting, but it can feel isolating. So joining the ACS was important to help me access those communities and support."
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