Religion, Philosophy and Ethics BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons Religion, Philosophy and Ethics
UCAS code
3 years full-time
A level offer
AAB (or BCC via a foundation year)
Required subjects
IB score
Course location
University Park  
Course places


This course will introduce you to our history’s most influential, powerful thinkers and their texts and enable you to analyse the profound questions which lie at the heart of religion, philosophy and ethics.
Read full overview
Our joint honours degree in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics draws on the combined expertise of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Department of Philosophy to offer one of the broadest humanities degrees, which is of the utmost relevance to the contemporary world. The political and social importance of religion in today’s society cannot be overestimated. Meanwhile, the world faces profound questions of human identity and ethics, which the philosophical and theological traditions tackle in many different ways.
This course will introduce you to our history’s most influential, powerful thinkers and their texts - from Plato, Augustine and Aquinas, to Kant, Marx and Freud. It will enable you to analyse the profound questions which lie at the heart of religion, philosophy and ethics: What is justice? Why care for the environment? Is there such thing as ‘duty’? What is ‘the good’? Is the universe created? Is there a human nature? What is ‘the mind’? Do I have a soul? Can we speak of God? Why pray? Do we have a natural desire for God? Does human life have purpose?  

Year one

Core modules in year one will introduce you to a wide range of issues in philosophy, religion and ethics from a variety of philosophical and theological perspectives. You may choose to focus on either philosophy or theology and religious studies in your choice of optional modules or combine the two.

Year two

Core modules are offered in The Philosophy of Religion, Atheism, and Nihilism,  Abraham’s Children: Religion, Culture, and Identity, and Normative Ethics. Optional modules are chosen from those on offer in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, allowing you to develop your interests in areas studied in year one or study something new. 

Year three

In year three you will have the flexibility to focus on either philosophy or theology and religious studies, with a wide range of modules on offer in both departments, or you may choose to give equal weighting to both.
You will have the option of writing a dissertation, which will allow you to develop your interest in a particular subject through independent research.

Entry requirements

A levels: AAB
This course may also be accessed via a foundation year for which the entry requirements are BCC at A level, find out more here.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications

We accept a broad range of qualifications. Please contact us to discuss your particular qualifications.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.     


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.

Typical year one modules


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. 


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.


Interpreting Islam

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.


Interpreting Judaism

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.


Reasoning, Argument, and Logic

This module teaches you practices of good reasoning, argument, and logic, as well as other skills relevant to philosophical study. Topics might include: philosophical essay writing; how to identity, produce, and assess arguments; forms of argument; fallacies and other standard errors of argument; conceptual analysis; basic philosophical vocabulary; the use of thought experiments.


Mind, Knowledge, and Ethics

This module covers issues in ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. topics might include: the mind body problem, the nature of persons, perception, knowledge, free will, the nature of ethics, normative theories, the problem of moral motivation, and the nature of ethical judgements.



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 year one and a crucial part of getting up to speed with the techniques and methods required to being a successful student of theology and religion. 

The Existence of God

This module will examine the basic philosophical issues that concern the existence of God. The lectures will cover such topics including: Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Design Argument, and the Problem of Evil. 


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. 


Metaphysics, Science, and Language

The module will cover topics from each of Metaphysics, Epistemology and the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of language. Indicative questions include: metaphysics – why is there something rather than nothing?; Does it make sense to talk of a telos, or purpose, to the universe? Is the universe deterministic, or is there chance; philosophy of science – is science the guide to all of reality? Is there a scientific method; philosophy of language – what is truth? Is truth relative? Does language create reality?


Philosophy of Religions

In this module you’ll examine some of the central themes surrounding the work of John Locke, one of the first philosophers who sought to integrate philosophy with our modern scientific worldview. Topics covered include: empiricism and science, perception, justification and scepticism and the nature of objects among others. 

Philosophy and the Contemporary World 

This module addresses issues of contemporary concern, arising from unattractive features of human life in its current forms. Topics might include: the purpose of education; is there a right to higher education; who should pay for higher education; free speech *why value free speech; censorship and pornography, hate speech and safe spaces; identity and prejudice (race and racial politics; homophobia; transphobia; intersex; class, disability; representation of religion in politics; psychology of bias); civic responsibility (animals and the environment; ‘bullshit’, truth, and post-truth politics; suffrage; media culture); global justice (war; terrorism; world hunger; migration and refugees); ethics and technology (human enhancement; drugs and sport; artificial intelligence).


History of Philosophy: Ancient to Modern

This course offers an introduction to a range of figures, topics, and traditions in the Western philosophical tradition. These might include: conceptions of the good life in ancient Greek ethics; the relation of reason and tradition in classical Islamic philosophy; Renaissance humanism and the rise of science; the education of mind and character; philosophies of gendered, racial, and caste oppression; philosophy and the colonial experience in Afro-Caribbean philosophy; and existentialism and the authentic life.


Gender, Justice, and Society

Proposed topics include: what is justice? What is gender justice? What would a just organization of labour and resources look like? How does the gendered distribution of labour and resources affect this? What is autonomy? How does gender affect the way we understand autonomy? What is culture, and why does it matter? How should the state respond to cultural differences? What should feminists say about this? Is violence justified? How can we make sense of gender-based violence? Should there be a distinction between the public and the private? Does it make sense to think of our personal lives as ‘political’?


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.


Islam and Gender

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. 

Typical year two modules


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. 

Normative Ethics

You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the main positions in contemporary normative ethics; their variations, strengths, weaknesses and historical precedents. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.


Abraham’s Children: Religion, Culture, and Identity

This is a core module for Year Two students which addresses theories of religion, historicizing ‘religion’ as a category, theologies of the other, interactions of religion with culture and philosophy, as well as relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.



The Nature of Meaning

The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell, and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences. In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as 'I', 'now', and 'here'. 


Topics in Asian Philosophy

The world is increasingly ‘looking east’, and this module introduces you to major themes in the philosophical traditions of several Asian cultures. We will focus on texts like the Analects and Bhagavad Gita and range across Chinese, Indian, and Japanese thought. The themes might include the relationship between ethics and etiquette, the nature of the good life, the role of virtue in political life, and the nature of ultimate reality. This course is taught through small-group study of classical Asian texts.

Freedom and Obligation

This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. 


 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. 


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 Nichomachaen 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. 

Knowledge and Justification

This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as the following: the structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence; the justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification and the relation between your evidence and what you know, among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.

Typical year three modules

In year three you will have the flexibility to focus on either philosophy or theology and religious studies, or give equal weighting to both. Writing a dissertation is optional.


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. 

Issues of Indeterminism 

This module explores the significance of indeterminism for such matters as counterfactual dependence and our sense that the future is open, causation, explanation, law and chance. It is grounded in seminal papers by one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers—namely, David Lewis. In these papers Lewis tries to show that counterfactual dependence, causation, explanation, law and chance all conform to the fundamental doctrine he calls 'Humean' supervenience. 

Environmental Ethics

Environmental ethics addresses the issue of how human beings should interact with the non-human natural world. This module will cover a range of topics from contemporary philosophical literature on environmental ethics. 

Philosophy of Art

This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current view on expression and representation, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks. 


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. 


Modern Jewish Thought

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.

Jewish Philosophy and Theology: From Philo to Levinas

The module will provide 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'. The module reflects the way that Jewish thought has not developed in isolation, but in intense dialogue with the surrounding Christian, Muslim and secular cultures throughout the ages. 


God and Money

This is a module in the philosophy of political economy. It explores the tensions between earlier visions of society where obligation, personal fulfilment, trust, and the common good were understood primarily in religious terms, and a modern society where these are understood primarily in economic terms. 



A degree from The University of Nottingham is highly sought after among graduate employers. Studying in the Departments of Theology and Religious Studies and Philosophy will equip you for a variety of positions that require the analysis of texts and complex issues, reasoned decision-making and problem-solving, sensitivity to cultural and religious diversity, and the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively.

In addition, the influence of religion on society, whether in faith communities or elsewhere, is such that you will be in a position to make a valuable contribution across a range of careers. Recent graduates work in areas such as law, teaching, journalism and publishing, politics, and the charity sector.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 93.2% of undergraduates in the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,205 with the highest being £38,000.*

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students. 


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment. 

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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Department of Theology and Religious Studies

School of Humanities

University of Nottingham

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