The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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 the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
Reading, Writing, Speaking Religion
This module mingles seminars on texts outside the Jewish-Christian-Islamic traditions with lectures on study, reading, writing, note-taking, presenting, and referencing skills. It is a core component of your Year 1 and a crucial part of getting up to speed with the techniques and methods required to being a successful student of theology and religion.
Interpreting the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
In this module you’ll be introduced to the literature, history and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. You’ll consider the biblical text as history, literature and scripture in both the Jewish and Christian Traditions.
Interpreting the New Testament
In this module you’ll gain an overview of the texts that makes up the New Testament and cover central methods, topics and issues in studying them including: the formation of the New Testament canon; the Roman, Greek and Jewish background to the New Testament, and the literary relationship among the Gospels and the ‘sayings’ material of Jesus.
The Bible in Music, Art and Literature
The Bible is one of the bestsellers and its influence on Western culture is unparalleled. This module explores the way in which the Bible is drawn upon in art, music and literature ranging from the Byzantine era to contemporary secular films and music. You’ll be encouraged to engage with case studies of works of art and critically consider the way in which art, music and literature function as biblical interpretations.
Building the Christian Church
In this module you’ll learn about the lives and works of some of the main theologians ranging from the first Christian thinker in the 2nd century, up to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation movements of the 16th century. You’ll study figures such as Augustine, Aquinas and Luther, looking at their ideas but also placing them in their broader historical and ecclesiastical context.
Christianity and the Crisis of Modernity
This module introduces the development of Western Christian theology from the Enlightenment to the present. It surveys the challenges posed to Christian faith by modernity and a range of theological responses to these challenges. In this way you’ll deal with central theological and ethical questions arising in the work and historical context of key thinkers such as Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard and Barth.
This is an introduction to Jewish life, religion, and culture, from its origins in the ancient Near East to its impact on contemporary popular culture. Attention will be paid to the development of Judaism over many centuries and in a range of locales, emphasizing the diversity and creativity of the Jewish experience. The aim here will be to introduce the manifold aspects of Jewish history & religion, Judaism's foundational narratives as they are expressed & addressed in its historical development, and the diverse forms of self-understanding on display in the Jewish tradition.
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
In this module you’ll be introduced to the basics of reading Biblical Hebrew. You’ll gain the ability to understand and translate basic sentences into English by the end of the module.
Introduction to Biblical Greek
In this module you’ll be introduced to the Greek language as used in the New Testament. You’ll gain the ability to understand and translate basic sentences into English by the end of the module.
Philosophy for Theologians
In this module you’ll be given an overview of the most important philosophical ideas, theories and arguments and their relation to religion and theology. You’ll begin by studying the Greek ‘natural theology’ of the pre-Socratic thinkers and end with the postmodern ‘turn to religion’ of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida.
This module examines the narrative and textual foundations of the Islamic tradition including the Qur'an, the prophetic tradition and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. You’ll also look at the development and structure of Islamic society, law, doctrine and spirituality through the classical period, and Muslim responses to challenges posed by modernity including questions of gender and the nation state.
This module examines different approaches to the study of Islam and gender. We will look at texts of women and gender relations in the Qur'an, the Hadith and Islamic law. We will also consider the lived experience of gender and the development of Muslim feminist theology and critique, especially in 20th and 21st century Egypt and Iran. Topics will include Islamic marriage and family, Muslim women's rights and culture, sexuality and veiling (including recent European discussions), the gendering of space, and homosexuality.
Prophets and Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible
In this module you’ll examine the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible, considering the nature of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible and in the wider ancient Near Eastern context. You’ll examine biblical prophetic texts as literature such as: Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel as well as the narratives about the prophets in the Pentateuch/Torah, historical books, and Latter Prophets.
Faith and Practice: Ethics in the Hebrew Bible
This module will examine a range of ethical issues in the Hebrew Bible, considering the nature of ethical thought in ancient Israel and its relationship to surrounding ideas in the Ancient Near East, as well as the ongoing use of these texts as a moral resource right up to the present day. Topics for specific study include those such as the justification of violence and warfare, sexuality and gender issues, and ideas of social justice.
Faith and Practice: New Testament Ethics
This module will examine a range of ethical issues in the New Testament in light of their cultural and historical context. Topics may include, for example, love of neighbour, martyrdom, and empire.
Women and Gender in the New Testament
This module explores the role of women and gender in the texts in and around the New Testament. The epistles, canonical gospels, and apocalypse will be examined alongside other contemporaneous evidence in order to construct a picture of not only the roles of female characters in literature and visual art, but also some of the socio-historical realities for real women. Students will learn about the special problems historians face when searching for the history of women in antiquity, and will practice using a variety of interpretive approaches, both historical and theological, to form their own careful scholarly analyses.
Intermediate Hebrew or Greek
This module builds on the year one introductory biblical language modules (i.e. Biblical Greek or Biblical Hebrew) and aims to develop your ability to handle the biblical text in its original languages. The basis of the module is the study and translation of individual texts with analysis of vocabulary, grammar and style. By the end of the module you’ll be able to read and produce a detailed exegesis of a range of biblical texts in their original language.
The Life and Teaching of Jesus
This module provides a historical introduction to the life of Jesus. It will involve a critical evaluation of the relevant sources for Jesus’ life, and discussion of the tension between the Christ of faith and the historical Jesus.
Identity, Discipleship and Community in Early Christianity
In this module you will focus on five early church documents (1 Thessalonians; The Didache; Mark’s Gospel; 1 Clement; and 1 Peter) to identify the varying patterns that emerged in early churches with regard to a) their identity as followers of Jesus; b) their understanding of the nature of discipleship; and c) their understanding of themselves as a specific community within history.
The Eucharist: An Historical Approach
The Eucharist has been known by many names over its history: the ‘Eucharist’, the ‘Agape’, the ‘Divine Liturgy’, the ‘Mass’, the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and ‘Holy Communion’. The variety of names suggests not only its significance for Christians but also the diverse ways in which it has been understood over the past two millennia. In this module you’ll discuss topics such as the practice and development of the Eucharist as well as central disputes and contemporary issues relating to it.
Theologies of Jesus Christ
At the heart of Christian theology lie a set of questions about Jesus: Who is he? What did he do? Why did he die? How do Christians understand him to be present in their lives today? This module will examine the answers that Christian theology has traditionally given to these questions, from the early debates about the humanity and divinity of Christ through to contemporary debates about the plausibility of the Resurrection. The module also serves as an introduction to Christian systematic theology as the rigorous intellectual examination of Christian beliefs and practices.
Religion and European Culture
In this module you’ll explore the way in which a wide range of literary texts engage in religious thought and the way they ‘perform’ or ‘do’ theology. Topics vary but can include investigations into God and the Gothic, the rise of the fantasy genre, Dante, and Holocaust literature.
Virtue Ethics and Literature
In this module you’ll be introduced to virtue ethics as an ancient form of moral practice, which has come back into prominence in recent years. Virtue ethics emphasises the lived experience of a tradition and is therefore narrative in character, offering itself naturally to literary embodiment. You’ll study key ancient Greek texts of the virtue tradition including Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics as well as works by Theophrastus, Cicero, Aquinas and contemporary reconstruals of the virtue tradition by Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. Virtue ethics will then be analysed in literary texts, such as Homer's Iliad, the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Graham Green's Brighton Rock.
Narrative and Theology
This module offers students a grounding in the various ways in which narrative shapes theological thinking, looking at the Yale School in particular and their promotion of 'narrative theology'. This will include questions about the tragic nature of the gospel, its 'realistic' character, the history of ways of reading scripture, and the relation of narrative and liturgy. It also looks at the ways throughout Christian history whereby narrative has been used to describe the religious life through autobiography (Augustine's Confessions) and lives of the saints. There will also be a comparative element in which we shall look at Jewish and Sufi story-telling as well as life-writing in Judaism and Islam and holocaust writings.
Faith and Identity: Religion in 19th Century Britain
In this module you’ll explore nineteenth-century religious life and thought in Britain – a period that is often regarded as the last great age of Christian faith, and when Britain was at its height as a world power. You’ll gain an informed understanding of the world from which Christianity in contemporary Britain emerged and cover topics including the concept of church reform, the dynamics of the major Christian denominations, the expansion of the Jewish community, revivalism, worship, church buildings, missions, and education.
Culture and Change: Religion in 20th Century Britain
This module investigates religious life and thought in Britain over the course of the 20th Century allowing you to understand further the immediate context of religion in contemporary Britain. Topics covered include: the transition from the Victorian to the modern age; the birth of ecumenism; the impact of the two World Wars on religion; the Second Vatican Council, the secularisation debate, the growth of multiculturalism, the church-state relationship. The module addresses the changing fortunes of the established Churches, the Free Churches and Roman Catholicism, and the patterns of growth of other world religions.
Jewish Theology and Philosophy: From Philo to Levinas
The module provides an overview of the most important theological and philosophical ideas, theories and arguments that Jewish thought developed from the Hellenistic period of Philo of Alexandria to the postmodern times of Emmanuel Levinas. The method of instruction will combine historical and speculative approaches, using the perspective of the 'history of ideas'.
This module will present modern Jewish thought from a theologico-philosophical perspective as an interesting alternative to both Christian and secular models of thinking. Modern Jewish thought emerges from 'the crisis of tradition' (Gershom Scholem) which it tries to resolve in many different ways: either intrinsic to Judaism itself (e.g. Lurianic Kabbalah) or in dialogue with Western philosophy (from Spinoza to Derrida). The module will emphasize the creative impact of Jewish thinkers on the development of modernity by showing the various ways in which these thinkers renegotiate and redefine the most crucial opposition between Athens and Jerusalem, or, in their own rendering, between Yaphet and Shem.
Islamic Theology and Philosophy
This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. The module proceeds historically, beginning with early Muslim theological views and moving on to major philosophical developments in the medieval period that continue to frame much Islamic theological thinking today.
Islamic Ethics of War and Peace
Ibn Taymiyya was one of the foremost Muslim scholars of the medieval period, and he is well known today for inspiring movements ranging from violent extremism to Salafism and reformist modernism. Ibn Taymiyya campaigned for jihad against the Mongol invaders of Syria, and he landed in jail several times for challenging the religious and political status quo. He also wrote prolifically on law, theology, philosophy, spirituality, Christianity and Shi‘ism in an attempt to reform and commend the Islamic religion. This module examines Ibn Taymiyya’s life and thought and trace his legacy to the present, and it will ask how he is best characterised: as a jihadist, a theologian, or perhaps something else.
The Philosophy of Religion, Atheism and Nihilism
In this module you’ll explore significant problems in the philosophy of religion, such as the credibility of the existence of God, the relation between religion and science, the relation between religion and morality, the problem of evil, and the possibility of an after-life. There will also be discussion of significant themes such as the nature of being, of faith, of religious experience, of religious language, and of religious love. You will consider significant thinkers including Plato, Anselm, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud and Weil.
20th Century Theology
Examining the major theologians of the last century this module will ask – what is nature, and what is grace? Likewise, what is natural and what is supernatural? This module will explore how theologians (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) have articulated this division and the many profound consequences that have arisen from such attempts This module will trace the development of various heated debates that tackled the above questions and in so doing influenced the shape of twentieth century theology, the idea of secularism, the relation between philosophy and theology, and lastly, between theology and science.
The Philosophy, Theology and Science of Evolution
What is Darwinism? Is it metaphysics, a philosophy, or ‘merely’ science? Does it entail atheism? Could it even accommodate theism? This module will explore Darwin’s theory of evolution, outlining its historical development up to the present day and considering the various debates that shaped its formation. You’ll explore the theory’s application in terms of Social-Darwinism, Socio-biology, and Evolutionary Psychology and the consequences this might have for our own self-understanding, and for how we interpret the world. The module is taught by Conor Cunningham, whose book Darwin’s Pious Idea and BBC documentary on the topic have ignited much debate.