Systematic and Philosophical theology for Newcomers: The Doctrine of God
This module is particularly intended for those who are entering the programme from disciplines other than theology and/ or philosophy. It may be a requirement of your admission that you take this module. Systematic and Philosophical Theology for Newcomers will introduce you to the language and method of systematic theology and philosophical theology through a study of key themes and texts. These will include portions of Plato’s ‘Republic’, Aristotle’s ‘Metaphysics’, St. Thomas Aquinas on theological language and Karl Barth on revelation and the Trinity.
Research Methods and Resources
This module introduces the skills and resources you will need for academic research, writing and oral presentation at postgraduate level, and introduces you to methodological and theoretical issues which arise in many areas of theology and philosophy. Topics to be covered may include IT skills, library resources, use of the web, the development of arguments, academic style and sensitivity to language, formatting and referencing, presentation skills, and the relationship between academic research and religious commitment. The primary assessment task for this module is an essay examining the development of a field of research over the last thirty years (for example, Christology). This module is optional and is particularly suitable for those wishing to hone their research skills, or whose academic background is in a discipline other than theology.
Christian theology naturally focuses on the person and work of Christ, otherwise known as Christology. You will study the development of the doctrine of Christ in the first six centuries of Christianity in some detail. This will involve reading a number of primary texts in translation, studying the ways in which Christian theologians developed a language which enabled Christians speak more clearly and coherently about Christ. You will then examine medieval, Reformation and modern understandings of Christ.
Aquinas and Thomisms
This module concerns the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) and the associated theological and philosophical school known as Thomism. Through a close reading of a range of primary texts, we will examine some key themes in Aquinas's work including the relationship between theology and philosophy, the doctrine of creation, theological ethics and the Trinity. This will lead to an examination of the most significant moments in the history of the interpretation of Aquinas, from Suárez (1548-1617) to the present day.
La Nouvelle Théologie
The New Theology’ is a pejorative term coined by the French Dominican theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1877-1964) to describe a new wave of twentieth century Catholic theology which offered a fresh interpretation of Aquinas and called for a return to the Church’s patristic and high mediaeval resources. This movement, which was a reaction against nineteenth century neoscholasticism, is also known as ‘ resourcement ’ theology – a theology which looks to the depths of the Church’s traditional theological resources to meet the intellectual and cultural challenges of late modernity. You will study the new theologians’ understanding of the Church, scriptural exegesis and the key issue in the debate concerning resourcement theology: relationship between nature and grace.
Reading Medieval Theologians from Anselm to Ockham
This module will examine a range of primary texts, in translation, that extend in time from Anselm (c.1033-1109) to William of Ockham (c.1285-1347). Moreover, the texts will also vary in genre from formal academic works to liturgical texts composed in the period. Through a close reading of these texts students will come to understand how Anselm’s theological method marked a break with the past; how the rise of the university affected theology; how the recovery of Aristotle and reception of Islamic thought affected theology; and how will look at some texts exhibiting the characteristics of ‘scholasticism.’
Earliest Christian Writings (Outside the Canonical Collection) to the Mid-second Century
The module will be a close reading of four or six of the earliest Christian documents of various lengths in their entirety. The concerns of each text will be given priority rather than viewing them as sources for other thematic concerns. This will lead to an examination of how these documents bring before us the history of the earliest churches, and exhibit both their theological concerns and styles of theology. There will be close attention throughout the module to how these texts have been used in theology in the past and how they can be used in theological understanding today .
Dante, Religion and Culture
This module offers students the opportunity to read most of the important Italian poet and lay-theologian Dante Alighieri’s works in translation, as well as his sources in medieval theology, philosophy and mystical writings. The cultural background in music, art and politics of the period will also be addressed. Primary texts will include the V ita Nuova (his poetic autobiography) Convivio (invitation to a philosophic banquet), Commedia (his journey to hell, purgatory and heaven) and Monarchia (political theory), and writings by Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Hugh of St Victor, Bernard of Clairvaux, Mechtild, Aristotle and Dionysius the Areopagite, as well as contemporary scholarship.
Faith and Reason
This module provides an opportunity to engage with key questions about the relationship between faith and reason in the modern world.The Department’s specialists in systematic and philosophical theology contribute to the module. Each unit addresses the issue of faith and reason in a very different way, for example through phenomenology, the thought of Aquinas or the understanding of philosophy as a spiritual exercise.
A student in conjunction with an appropriate supervisor will pursue a plan of guided reading. They will then write either one (20 credits) or two (40 credits) essays, on topic(s) agreed with the supervisor.
They will also submit a list of the works read as part of the Directed Reading programme. The area must normally be different from any of those covered by other Distance Learning MA modules, and also distinct from the area of the student's dissertation.
In consultation with members of staff, and with the approval of the MA course co-ordinator, students will select the subject area and title of the dissertation and submit a proposal for comment and approval.
A supervisor will then work with the student on completing a 12-15,000 word dissertation.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.