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Individual undergraduate modules

Course length
  • Not available to study full-time
  • 15 credit modules: one term. 30 credit modules: two terms part-time
  • At least one A level (or equivalent) or relevant work experience
Summary

Join us in September 2016 for an undergraduate module. Choose from over 70 fascinating topics in Philosophy, Theology, Religion and Ethics. These modules can be studied as short courses with 1 two-hour lecture per week. 15 Credit modules are taught over 1 term. 30 Credit modules are taught over 2 terms.

The timetable for these modules will be published soon.

15 Credit modules

Anthropology of Religion

This module explores the contribution made by anthropology to the study of religion.

Students will examine issues related to religion in both historical and contemporary society. It uses as its focus examples of the myriad facets of religious culture within differing global contexts. Topics studied may include: Religion, culture and the environment, God and mankind … the historical and cultural perspective; Religious traditions in a global context; Traditional religions and creation 'myths'; Symbolism, classifications/representations; Religious identity and Gender issues; Ritual :its manifestations and categories; Shamanism, Witchcraft and the evil eye.

Beliefs & Practices of Buddhism

This module introduces students to the traditions, key beliefs, and practices of Buddhism. Students will study the major schools of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Topics studied may include: the life and teaching Shakyamuni Buddhi; Mahaayana philosophies; the historical spread and variants of Buddhism in Asia; Tantric Buddhist beliefs and practices; Tibetan and Zen traditions; contemporary developments of the reception of Buddhism in the West and Engaged Buddhism.

Bioethics

This module explores in detail various ethical dilemmas (as well as proffered solutions) that arise in regard to numerous procedures encountered in the world of medicine. 

Topics considered include:  human gene therapy; genetic screening and counseling; reproductive technology; euthanasia and the prolongation of life; transplants; research and experimentation and resource allocation 

Christian-Muslim Relations

This course will examine how Christians and Muslims perceived and interacted with each other since the rise of Islam until the present day.

The topics which are going to be covered are as follows:

  • History of Christian - Muslim relations.
  • Jesus and Mary in the Qur’an.
  • Muslim perceptions of Christianity.
  • Christian perceptions of Islam: Muhammad and the Qur’an.
  • Contemporary Christian – Muslim dialogue.
Contemporary Moral Issues

This module examines a range of contemporary problems such as (i) what is a moral response to climate change?; (ii) justice and remuneration; (iii) advertising and its effects; (iv) aspiration, ambition and greed; (v) the ethics of finance and debt; (vi) bribery and corruption; (vii) the ethics of journalism; (viii) the ethics of water use; (ix) charities and public benefit.  The content will take account of the latest moral issues in the public domain at the time of delivery of the module.

Contemporary Philosophy of Religion

This 15-credit module focuses on key developments in 20th and 21st century Philosophy of Religion. We will consider both personal and impersonal ways of conceiving of the divine (which may include, for example, the developing God of the Process theologians, the all-encompassing God of panentheism, and Hick’s conception of ‘The Real’), and different ways of understanding religious truth (including both non-realist and pragmatist interpretations), and we will examine the writings of philosophers from all of the major world religions (including, for example, Rosenzweig, Iqbal, and Radhakrishnan). Teaching is by means of interactive lectures, and a range of resources are provided on the Helios module page. The assessment tasks are a 2,000-word essay and a two-hour examination. 

Early Christian Worship

The foundations of Christian worship developed in the patristic age (c.100–700).

This period remains an essential point of reference for any discussion on liturgical practice and theological reflection upon it. This module will convey a broad knowledge and understanding of Christian worship in late antiquity and the early middle ages, including its cultural, social and political contexts. The course will include a study of selected sources, with a focus on the Eucharist and on Christian initiation.

Early Modern Christianity

This module aims to convey a broad knowledge and understanding of the history of Christianity during the early modern period (c.1450-1700), with attention to the theological controversies as well as the social, cultural and political that which have shaped early modernity. Topics will include an overview of the situation of western Christianity in this period, Renaissance humanism and Conciliarism, the Reformations on the Continent and in England, the Counter-Reformation, new religious orders, confessionalism and social legacies, global Catholicism. 

Ecclesiology & Ecumenism

“Jesus came preaching the Kingdom”, wrote Alfred Loisy, “and what arrived was the Church”. 

Ecclesiology and Ecumenism looks at some of the most sensitive questions in the structural development of the church and the doctrines that have emerged in regard to it from its biblical origins to present-day global and contextual ecclesiologies.  The historical and theological emergence of ecumenism and its practical application today balance this course which is both theoretical and solidly practical.

English texts: Book of Judges

This module enables students to work critically with an extensive text in English. 

With the aid of commentaries, students will study themes such as violence, displacement, the treatment of women, and 'deliverer' figures, focusing in particular on the stories of Deborah-Barak, Gideon-Abimelech, Jephthah and Samson.  

Epistemology

This module aims to deepen students’ understanding of issues discussed in the Introduction to Epistemology or Knowledge and Reality.

Typical topics are: the analysis of propositional knowledge; the nature of epistemic justification; theories of perception; and sceptical arguments and replies including contextualism. 

Fundamentals of Revelation

Fundamentals of Revelation: Is Revelation Fundamental?

‘God has taken the initiative through a process of self-disclosure, which reaches its climax and fulfilment in the history of Jesus of Nazareth.’ This sentence of Alasdair McGrath summarizes the modern consent – Protestant and Catholic – that the concept of self-revelation (or ‘self-disclosure’) might be considered as the basic principle of Christian theology. However, the concept of self-revelation it is anything but biblical in origin. How did modern theologians come to adopt this concept?

This module aims at a critical introduction to the foundations of Christian theology. Particular attention will be paid to the spiritual and ecclesial foundations of the Christian tradition, as recalled by the Second Vatican Council: on the living encounter with Christ and on the remembering and understanding of the spoken and unspoken in what was once spoken. In the light of this starting point, it will also discuss the question to what extent the concept of self-revelation prevents us from overcoming the dualistic features of our modern mind-set, such as the dualisms between spiritual practice and theoretical reflection, faith and reason, theology and philosophy. The module will conclude with an introduction to the Christian form of life that focuses on the Eucharist as source and summit of Christian spirituality.

Further Issues in Moral Psychology & Metaethics

This module asks about the nature of morality and how people actually function in moral contexts, considering a few central issues in greater depth than the introductory module (Introduction to Moral Psychology & Metaethics). The introduction can be taken on its own, but this module can normally only be taken if the introduction has been done first.                        

How is it that we make the everyday moral decisions that we do? How do we justify our choices and actions? Why do people act in morally good or bad ways? How do we develop morally? And cutting across all of these, what is the importance and role of reason, emotion, intuition, or situation? These questions about real-world moral behaviour are the domain of empirical moral psychology, but are also of intense interest to philosophers and ethicists who find here helpful constraints on their theories. Students will study both the theories and methods of empirical moral psychologists, and philosophical theories about the nature of morality, in particular, questions of metaphysics (is morality objective?) and epistemology (how can we know what is right?). Wherever possible, the course will make connections between the psychological and philosophical approaches. Historically empirical psychology has been naive to some important philosophical concerns, and philosophers have often returned the compliment by replacing systematic empirical investigation with mere speculation! An inter-disciplinary partnership is clearly required, and these two half modules reflects the fact that in recent years potentially fruitful partnerships have begun to expand and develop.

Hebrew Texts: Isaiah 1-6

This short but challenging portion of the text is a rewarding introduction to the distinctive language, style and content of 'First Isaiah' and the Book of Isaiah as a whole.

It includes the 'Temple Vision' of chapter 6, and other influential passages. Through a careful study of the Hebrew text we examine the relationship of these chapters to the rest of the Book of Isaiah, the possible historical background(s), the nature of prophecy and the prophetic books, the power of symbols and metaphors, etc.  

Hellenistic Philosophy

Greek philosophy made progress after the death of Aristotle (322).

The Stoics devised an ethics of endurance and a new logic and cosmology, the Epicureans worked out a non-deterministic physics and the Sceptics developed a combination of doubt and acceptance, which they found practical for both epistemology and for every-day life. All three of these Hellenistic schools thought philosophy should lead to peace-of-mind and tranquility but not to complacency. This half-module will examine their arguments and consider their contemporary relevance. 

Hermeneutics and Religion

This module introduces students to the historical development of hermeneutics.

Students will examine the contribution of the main figures in the study of hermeneutics, including Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Ricoeur, Bultmann, Tracy and Jeanrod. Key themes include philosophical hermeneutics, hermeneutics and ideology, theological hermeneutics, liberation and feminist hermeneutics, reader response and reception theory, hermeneutics of religious language, and postmodernity.  The module also focuses on the importance of philosophical hermeneutics to the study of religion, theology and interpreting religious texts.

Interpersonal & Sexual Ethics

This module examines the ethical issues which arise in regard to interpersonal relationships, including sexual relationships. The topics considered and analysed include: truth telling and lying; promise keeping; fidelity in relationships; confidentiality; the appropriateness or otherwise of various kinds of sexual activity within different kinds of relationships; divorce and second marriage and the demands of special relationships.  

Introduction to Moral Psychology & Metaethics

This module, along with (Further Issues in Moral Psychology & Metaethics) ask about the nature of morality and how people actually function in moral contexts. This first module is introductory, while the second considers a few central issues in greater depth. The introduction can be taken on its own, but the follow on module can normally only be taken if this one has been done first. 

How is it that we make the everyday moral decisions that we do? How do we justify our choices and actions? Why do people act in morally good or bad ways? How do we develop morally? And cutting across all of these, what is the importance and role of reason, emotion, intuition, or situation? These questions about real-world moral behaviour are the domain of empirical moral psychology, but are also of intense interest to philosophers and ethicists who find here helpful constraints on their theories. Students will study both the theories and methods of empirical moral psychologists, and philosophical theories about the nature of morality, in particular, questions of metaphysics (is morality objective?) and epistemology (how can we know what is right?). Wherever possible, the course will make connections between the psychological and philosophical approaches. Historically empirical psychology has been naive to some important philosophical concerns, and philosophers have often returned the compliment by replacing systematic empirical investigation with mere speculation! An inter-disciplinary partnership is clearly required, and these two half modules reflects the fact that in recent years potentially fruitful partnerships have begun to expand and develop.

Israel at Worship

Many of the religious beliefs and practices of the Old Testament have been and remain of great importance. But how much do we really know about them?

Is the Old Testament's picture of the radical difference between Yahweh and the gods of Canaan quite as straightforward as it seems? What were the different attitudes to the Temple? Leviticus gives regulations regarding sacrifice, but were there accompanying prayers? In the Psalms we find texts which suggest liturgical action, but what form would this have taken? What was the role of women? Was there ever an ancient covenant renewal ceremony? What exactly was the Day of Atonement trying to achieve? By examining a series of selected texts in English, this module will offer you an opportunity to address these and related questions. 

Jewish-Christian Relations

This module focuses on the theological, social and political determinants of Jewish-Christian relations.

Students will gain an understanding of how each faith has responded to the other. Topics studied may include: First century Judaism; the parting of the ways; Jewish and Christian polemics; medieval Jewish-Christian relations; impact of the Holocaust; twentieth century scholarship and theology; Vatican II; Catholic-Jewish relations; Dabru Emet; Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Jewish-Muslim Relations

This module covers the theological, social and political determinants of Jewish-Muslim relations with a specific focus on how each faith has responded to the other.

Topics studied may include: Islam and Judaism, Judeo-Arabic Culture, the Cairo Geniza, Islamic impact on Jewish philosophy and spirituality, polemical literature, contemporary Jewish Muslim relations, Israel-Palestine conflict.

Life and Afterlife

This module is an interdisciplinary study of beliefs about life after death/eternal life in a range of world religions, examining the topic from historical, exegetical, philosophical, psychological, and pastoral perspectives.

Topics may include:

  • Beliefs about life after death in Egypt, Greece and Rome
  • Existence after death in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • Intertestamental views of the afterlife
  • Eschatology in the New Testament
  • Jewish teaching about life after death
  • Islamic teaching about life after death
  • Dualist and modified dualist interpretations of life after death
  • Monist interpretations of life after death
  • Revisionist interpretations of eternal life
  • Reincarnation in Eastern and Western thought
  • The implications of parapsychology for beliefs about life after death
  • ‘Near-death experiences’
  • The pastoral implications of beliefs about life after death
Liturgy

Principles of worship, history of Christian liturgy including Jewish background, worship: the Reformation and the Catholic Reformation, the development of Anglican liturgy, the Modern Liturgical Movement, the significance of "Sacrosanctum Concilium", Roman Catholic Liturgy since Vatican II, liturgy and culture, liturgy and time, liturgy and music, liturgy and ethics, liturgy and sacred space.

Marx and Marxism

This module introduces students to Marx’s thought on Alienation, Religion, Critique, Analysis of Social Structure, Revolution, and History.

Reading of texts and lectures explore central themes in Marxism including Historical Materialism, Marxian Economics, Political Thought, Ideology and Morality. From twentieth century Marxism the contributions of Analytic Marxists to clarifying central questions are examined.

Neo-Platonist Philosophy

After Plato and Aristotle, the greatest philosopher writing in Greek, was the Alexandrian metaphysician Plotinus.  His Enneads offer a case for an elaborate philosophical system based on the triad, unity, intellect and soul. Plotinus had a number of students and successors including Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius who developed his thought. Despite Plotinus’ originality, it is instructive to examine his sources including the writings of the Middle Platonists and the Gnostics. This half-module will also consider modern responses to Neoplatonism in both European and analytic philosophy.      

Normative Ethics

How do we arrive at our moral judgments? Is there some “switch” in our brains that indicates right or wrong, or can reason itself constitute both an indication and a motivation for moral behavior? We will read and analyze Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, and Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason with a view towards understanding what role reason plays in establishing normative principles of morality. We will also read and discuss some related contemporary work in ethics.

Philosophy of Science

This course gets to grips with some of the most fascinating and central issues in the philosophy of science, including Hume’s problem of induction, Goodman’s new riddle of induction, Popper’s falsificationism, the paradox of the ravens (could a white shoe really confirm that all ravens are black?) scientific realism (are we justified in supposing electrons really exist?), Kuhn on paradigm shifts, theory and observation, and the distinction between science and pseudoscience (is astrology good science, bad science, or not really science at all?). 

Philosophy of Social Science

This module will provide an introduction to a range of issues concerned with the investigation of social phenomena such as society, culture, economy, and religion.

Through a philosophical engagement with the major intellectual traditions of social science in the English, French, and German speaking worlds issues such as the conflict in interpretations, multiple accounts of modernity, the status of truth claims, the sociology of knowledge, theories of society, and perspectivism will be investigated and analysed. Methodological, ontological, and epistemological/hermeneutical issues will be discussed in as far as they affect a philosophical understanding and interpretation of social phenomena. 

Poetry and Human Thought

By exploring poetry with a particularly spiritual dimension, this course will draw comparisons between literature (on the one hand) and philosophy and theology (on the other), and in doing so, it will point up the differing stances each discipline takes to language and human experience. Close reading of poems and secondary texts provides a framework for thinking about how poets have engaged with themes in philosophy of mind, aesthetics, epistemology and metaphysics. The module is organised around the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop and Seamus Heaney. Some questions arising include:  Can poetry help us to investigate philosophical and theological problems? How does poetic form help to embody and reinforce meaning? Is poetry a way of ‘thinking with your feelings’ (Bishop)? In what way does poetry ‘…fortify your inner life, your inwardness’ (Heaney)?    

Political Theology

Political Theology seeks to explore how Christianity in particular and religious faith in general can be responsibly and appropriately mediated through social and political life.

This module will trace this as a historical theme, from Augustine’s City of God through medieval and Reformation thinkers. Modern political theology, which emerges from post-war Europe, is in some ways a first-world counterpart to liberation theology. Theologians such as J.B. Metz and J. Moltmann seek to challenge the ‘privatised’ and alienating understandings of the gospel which have left it adapted and domesticated by liberal capitalism. Other issues, such as religion and violence, and political theology in non-Christian traditions, will be explored.

Psychology of Religion

An introduction to psychology of religion, a psychological discipline contributing to religious studies and theology.  The module explores how different psychological approaches, (e.g. Freudian, Jungian, social, etc.), can enhance our understanding of religion and takes up selected issues in the psychology of religious belief and behaviour, including conversion, religious development and the association between religion and prejudice.

Religious Experience & Spirituality

This module explores areas within what can be called the spiritual dimension of human existence through a focus on the notions of religious experience and spirituality.  

Questions that will be addressed include: can we somehow step beyond the difficulties of trying to describe God in human language and experience God directly?  Are religious experiences simply the product of our upbringing, the community we live in, the books we read, and so on?  What do we understand by the term spirituality and in what ways might this be related to religious experience?  Can spirituality be understood in a non-theistic way and what might be the implications of this?  Can a theistic understanding of religious experience and spirituality be judged to hold any rational meaning for human life today?  What do religious experience and spirituality tell us about the nature of human identity?

Selected New Testament Texts in English: Epistles

One of two modules offering an opportunity to consider important and interesting texts of the New Testament, building on the understanding gained from the Biblical Studies introductory module. This module, on the Gospel of John, offers you an opportunity to look at the central themes and theology of the gospel through the lens of a close reading of selected elements of the text in English. 

Selected New Testament Texts in English: the Fourth Gospel

The second module, at present, introduces you at some depth to Paul’s letter to the Philippians, a letter which does not always receive the attention it is due. This text based course gives you time to dwell on the setting and social world of the letter, the situation within the Philippian assembly implied within the text, along with its central theology, including the famous ‘Christological hymn’ of Chapter 2.

Sociology of Religion

This module explores the relationship between religion and society, both historically and in the present day. 

It offers an introduction to sociological theory for theologians, and reflects on how sociology both challenges and illuminates pastoral practice.

Special Moral Theology

The module aims to enable students to identify, understand and critically engage specific ethical issues which arise in the spheres of intepersonal, sexual, medical and social ethics. 

It aims to enable students to understand the teachings of the Roman Catholic Magisterium on these issues, to compare, intelligently discuss and evaluate the approaches of different schools of thought, and to apply the principles and arguments learned in the foundation module (Christian Ethics).  This is a pastorally oriented course, so the module also aims to enable students to develop pastoral strategies when faced with cases.

The Sacraments

The origin and development of Christian sacraments, Sacraments today, sacraments and symbols, the relationship between scripture and sacrament, the development of Eucharistic theology, contemporary approaches to the Eucharist, sacraments and the Trinity, sacraments as rites of passage, sacraments of initiation, the sacrament of ordination and priesthood, sacraments of healing, sacraments and liturgy.

Theology of Liberation

This module will introduce the distinctive challenge and contribution made by liberation theologies from Latin America and elsewhere. Liberation Theology represents a major paradigm shift in modern theology: faith seeking, not just understanding, but transformation. Christian truth is to be articulated from the determinative experience of those who are suffering poverty and injustice; they are set at the forefront of the theological agenda. Theology is seen as ‘critical reflection on historical praxis’, undertaken on behalf of the poor in situations of oppression and injustice. (G. Gutiérrez). We will look at the some of the main themes and writings of Latin American liberation theology, and those of other related movements of theology, such as Black and Asian theologies of liberation and, especially, Feminist, which similarly seeks to do theology from the ‘margins’- namely, from women’s experience of being marginalised and subjugated by religious traditions and institutions. This module is independent of ST308 Political Theology, but can be taken in conjunction with it.

Theology of Literature

This interdisciplinary module will explore the rich and complex conversations between the study of (primarily) English literature and theology, as two related but autonomous ways of articulating spiritual transcendence.

It will identify the ways in which theology and literature have at times been in alliance in testifying to truth, while at other times have come across as ‘rivals’, with one substituting or compensating for the other. The conversation will be followed through such topics as: hermeneutics; the Bible and literature; Renaissance. Romantic and modernist understandings of the role of the poet as ‘priest’; Shakespeare and religion; the radical tradition of Milton and Blake. Two literary genres will be specifically examined for their relevance to this topic: devotional lyric and tragic drama.

30 Credit modules

19C German Philosophy

The module begins with Hegel on sense-certainty and perception, self-consciousness, the Absolute and idealism. We then move to Schopenhauer on the self, epistemology, value and pessimism. Finally we consider Nietzsche on perspectival seeing, the will, eternal recurrence and the sources of morality.

also available as a 15 credit module
Belief and Unbelief
Beliefs & Practices of Islam

The module aims to present a comprehensive introduction of beliefs and practices of Islam and its internal diversity from its origins to the contemporary period.

The course will also show the diversity of Muslim interpretations and approaches to the sources of Islam. It will cover: the rise of Islam, the life and the role of the Prophet Muhammad, the main sources of Islam (the Qur’an and the Sunna), creeds and the schools of Kalam (theology), Sufism, Islamic law and current issues in Muslim societies. 

Beliefs and Practices of Judaism

This module examines the central themes of Jewish theology and major features of Jewish religious life and practice.

Students will also explore the impact of modernity and the Shoah on modern Jewish life. Among the topics covered: Monotheism, creation, revelation, covenant, Torah, land, people, Messianic hope, diversity in Judaism, liturgy and prayer and the impact of modernity. 

Biblical Foundations

Biblical Foundations offers students an introduction to Biblical Studies by studying texts in their context, at the same time introducing a number of methodological approaches.

Currently the module covers Ancient Near Eastern texts and historiography, the Deuteronomistic History, Wisdom literature and Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible section, and selected material from Paul and the Gospels from the New Testament.

Biblical Hebrew

An introduction to grammar and biblical texts in Hebrew.

This module will introduce you to the fundamental rules of Hebrew grammar while providing the basics for understanding the language syntax and building up an extent vocabulary. This should give you the tools for further exegetical work in the Hebrew Bible and should enable you to read it in Hebrew with the aid of a dictionary.

Biblical Theology in the Making

In this module, students are given an opportunity to build on earlier work in Biblical Foundations or an equivalent in order to learn skills in the close reading of key Biblical texts in English. Currently these texts consist in material from Psalms, Isaiah, Romans and Matthew, focusing on themes of Creation, Grace and Eschatology.

Canon Law

A general introduction to issues arising from the code of Canon Law (1983): how law should be interpreted; how it has developed; the relationship between canon law and ecclesiology; how canon law applies to the sacraments and to marriage; and the relationship between canon law and rights in the church.

Christ, God & Salvation

This course covers central issues and themes in systematic Christology and Trinitarian Theology.

Students will explore the Bible, the early church, and varied other elements in human experience and thought. An example topic from the Christology part of the course is historical judgement concerning Jesus and faith perspective. In the Trinity part of the course students will explore several key themes, including different ‘models of the Trinity’, ‘the image of God’ and ‘trinitarian ideas of the Cross as a response to the question of evil.

Christian Ethics

An exploration of issues in the relationship between morality and Christianity, such as: basic approaches to ethics, and how far Christianity might be thought to influence these; law, human rights, and conscience; personal goodness and objective rightness.  

Concept of God

The first half of the module examines the question of God in its historical development. How did God become a question, a question mark for thought? Think about how traditional philosophers – from the Pre-Socratics to Kant – thought about God and whether and to what extent there is a difference between the way we think about God conceptually and the way human beings name God from experience.The second half of the module will think about two dimensions of the modern problem of God: (1) the meaning and coherence of divine predicates and (2) the relation between the divine and the world, especially and most importantly, with respect to human freedom and agency.

Contemporary Philosophical Problems

This module introduces students to a number of topics at the forefront of research in contemporary philosophy. Students will explore a number of important topics. Topics may include Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, Simon Blackburn on Quasi-realism, John McDowell on the epistemological role of perceptual experience, and the Paradox of fiction.

Creation, Grace & Resurrection
Experience, Thought & Revelation

This module examines issues linked with a question: ‘If it can occur that people – maybe you – receive some knowledge of God, or revelation, how does this happen?’ Is it just by inferences or hypotheses? Does one count on statements by an authority: perhaps Jesus or the Bible or the Church? Again, are your own experience or consciousness key? Concerns emerge to do with how experience links with language, concepts and social context. And what about growth? On some outlooks, once can advance through one’s own resources. But how God graciously acts and relates to people, and Jesus’s role, may be held vital. There is study of selected pages in texts by John Henry Newman, Karl Barth, Karl Rahner, George Lindbeck and Basil Mitchell: and emphasis on discussion, and development of students’’ own personal thought. The term ‘Theology of Revelation’ applies to the field explored. 

History of Christianity

The course covers almost two millennia of Christian history, in a chronological sequence.

The course consists of three parts:

  • From the origins of Christianity to c. 600, with special attention being given to the doctrinal and institutional developments of this period.
  • From c. 600 to c. 1450, with special attention being given to the Church and society in Medieval Europe.
  •  c. 1450 onwards, with special attention being given to the Church in the early modern period (Protestant Reformation and Tridentine Reform, global expansion of Christianity).
Intermediate Latin

This module completes the study of Latin grammar and syntax commenced in Latin for Beginners.

The module is open to students who did not take Latin for Beginners but learnt basic Latin before coming to Heythrop. Around the middle of the Michaelmas Term we shall proceed to an original text or texts – the choice of text depending on the students’ ability and interests. The content of the set text will be discussed, but the emphasis will be on developing reading skills.

Latin for Beginners

This module covers the main elements of Latin grammar and syntax.

Having successfully completed it, a student will be able to work directly on original texts in Latin, from any period in the history of the Christian tradition, from Augustine through Aquinas to Vatican II. The course presumes that the student has already a grasp of grammatical vocabulary (‘the accusative case’, ‘the second person plural’, and the like); those who do not should consult the teacher in the summer term, who will inform them how to learn this vocabulary over the long vacation.

Love, Sex, Death & God

Philosophers and theologians have made a distinction between different kinds of love - eros, agape, and philia.

How are we to understand the  nature of these loves? Are they really distinct? What is their philosophical, moral, and religious significance? And what bearing do they have on our nature as human beings? We shall approach these issues by looking at some of the classical sources (Plato, St Paul, Aristotle), and shall then move on to the contemporary philosophical debate. 

New Testament Greek

An introduction to New Testament Greek using a set textbook and the study of selected short passages from the Greek New Testament. 

The module introduces students to a basic understanding of text critical issues in order to provide a foundation for future study and to move on to exegetical papers in the following year.  Completion of the module will allow students to have achieved a level of competence in reading and translation sufficient to prepare them for further work in New Testament exegesis; appreciate and enjoy the challenge of a rigorous introduction to a skill valuable in any serious biblical study; understand the importance of studying ancient texts in the original languages and appreciate that all translation involves interpretation.

Philosophical & Religious Ethics

This module aims to introduce students to some of the main components of philosophical and religious ethics.

It will familiarise students with some of the ethical concepts and ideas that are specific to Jewish, Islamic and Christian thought. It will also enable students to explore some of the main components in philosophical ethics theory, including deontology, virtue ethics, cultural relativism, divine-command theory and Natural Law. Students will then use these different ethical approaches to assess specific themes in selected areas, such as bioethics and social/political ethics.

Psychoanalysis & Philosophy

The course will be divided roughly into three sections: (1) a study of psychoanalytic theory, including Freud, object relations, and ego psychology; (2) a philosophical critique, focusing on the nature and scientific status of psychoanalytic explanations, and modern developments; and (3) implications for philosophy, including personal identity, moral psychology, and aesthetics.

Quranic Arabic

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the basics of Arabic grammar and to enable them to read and understand selected parts of the Qur’an.

Arabic is the language of the divine revelation; the Qur’an. Therefore studying Arabic is essential to acquire a deep understanding of Islam. The module will cover essential features of Classical Arabic grammar in a clear and logical way.  Moreover, the module will enable the students to read and translate various texts extracted from the Qur’an and prophetic tradition. 

Quranic Texts: Early Meccan Chapters

This module aims to:

• introduce students to the early Meccan chapters and their distinctive characteristics.
• enable the students to appreciate the relationship between language, sound and meaning.
• engage students in an exegetical study of these texts by using various commentaries.
• enable students to develop study, library and research skills including effective oral and written skills

Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation

The module presents the main features and the roles of the foundational scriptures of each religion (The Tanakh, the New Testament and the Qur’an).

It will also examine the hermeneutical traditions and the impact of historical-critical methods on each religion. The module will cover Revelation and Scripture, origins of the sacred texts and canon formation, Torah-piety and Jewish schools of exegesis, schools of Qur’anic interpretation, Reformation debates on scripture and Church and the impact of historical-critical approaches to scripture. 

Selected texts from Gospels in Greek

This module are for those who want to get their teeth into a major New Testament work without too much distraction.

Normally these modules are offered on a two year cycle – so Pauline and Gospel texts alternate from year to year. Each of these, in its own way, provides a precious chance to engage in the Greek texts with serious exegetical concentration, with time to reflect on issues of translation, text criticism, interpretation and application. Small classes are the norm here, and interaction between students is as important as careful preparation and commitment to the task.

Spirituality & Mysticism in the Abrahamic Faiths

This module will introduce major development in the spiritual and mystical traditions of the Abrahamic faiths focusing on primary textual sources.

Topics to be covered: Temple and Psalter, Rabbinic spirituality, medieval Jewish Pietists and Hasidism, Christian monasticism, patterns of following Christ, divine ineffability and mystical experience, Spanish 16th Century mysticism, purification of the soul in Islam, spirituality of pilgrimage and fasting, Sufi traditions, Song of Songs, modern post-religious spirituality. 

Wittgenstein

This course introduces the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the most influential 20th Century philosophers.

Wittgenstein’s ideas about philosophy are radical. Questions with which we will grapple include: What breathes life into these squiggles and gives them meaning? What is the mind? Is it, as philosophers have tended to think, something hidden away inside us, necessarily inaccessible to others? Could a robot have a mind? What is involved in following a rule? We will examine both the early and later philosophy of Wittgenstein, though we will focus particularly on the later work (and especially Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations). The course also includes an examination of Wittgenstein’s thinking on the nature of religion.