This programme includes one core module:
Research Methods in the Study of Theology and Religion
This module consists of a series of formal discipline-specific sessions taught by members of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion. The main purpose of this module is to train, equip, and inform students concerning the methodological diversity and variety of concerns within Theology and Religion. You will also have an opportunity to discuss and analyse the "craft" of Theology and the study of Religion in order to help you to conduct your own research in competent and imaginative ways.
You will also choose two optional modules from the following:
Bible and Sacred Space
This module will examine spatial concepts within biblical texts and critique them using spatial-critical theory. There will be an emphasis on the original settings of the texts and related archaeological findings, and also on the history of their interpretation in different contexts, with a focus on contemporary interpretation (including virtual sacred space). Key spatial themes may include, but will not be limited to: land, temple, city, country/agricultural space, and empire. The module will also deal with the ethics of examine biblical space in light of contemporary political conflicts.
The module comprises weekly seminars divided between the development of mutual attitudes between Christians and Muslims in the early centuries of the Islamic era and the legacy of historical attitudes as reflected in present-day relations.
Contemporary Issues in Sikhism
This module explores the workings of the Sikh religion in the contemporary world with particular reference to Sikhs in the Diaspora and in the Punjab. Examples of issues to be discussed include: attitudes towards caste, dowry and arranged marriages; questions of adaptation and dialogue in a new environment with particular emphasis on second and third generation Sikhs; and changing traditions.
Contemporary Sufism; origins and issues
This module aims to examine the diverse beliefs and practices of contemporary forms of Sufism. It will examine the historical and cultural antecedents of Sufism, discussing various interpretations and understandings of Sufi origins and practice and will focus on how these are expressed in differing contexts in the contemporary world. The module will particularly focus on Sufi tariqas, examining the social and theological formulations of the different traditions, such as the Naqshabandiyya, Shadhiliyya, Qadiriyya and Mawlawiyya, as well as more heterodox orders such as the Bektashiyya. Consideration will be given to the different methodological approaches to the study of these tariqas, such as the ethnographic and sociological, in both Islamic and Western contexts, and how these approaches might be applied to other mystical and esoteric traditions.
Goddess Spirituality and Thealogical Embodiment
This module introduces the pioneering and subsequent thinkers for this relatively new field of study and explores critically its key themes and its theoretical concerns. The module maps thealogy’s critical engagement with history, philosophy and theology, assessing its alternative concepts. It explores the connections between thealogy and embodiment, particularly its engagement with contemporary issues such as environmental destruction, weight-reducing diets, menstrual taboos, women and labour, female sexuality. The module problematises the predominant association of this field of study with women, assessing the contribution of male scholars to date and discussing the value of thealogical thinking for all genders.
Historical and Contemporary Debates on the Holocaust
The module introduces you to a range of historical and contemporary debates on the Holocaust. The focus is methodological, focusing on how this historical period is conceptualised, interpreted and studied, both as events were unfolding and subsequently. The module begins by considering when these events began to be spoken of and conceptualized as ‘the Holocaust’; the range of possible definitions of ‘the Holocaust’ (e.g., in relation to the experience of non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution), and issues relating to language, terminology and the naming of these events. Consideration will be given to evaluating the range of possible perspectives and sources (often conceptualised as those of ‘victims’, ‘survivors’, ‘perpetrators’, ‘bystanders’, etc.), and whether it is possible to construct an ‘integrated’ history of the Holocaust. We will explore some ongoing controversies relating to the history and memory of the Holocaust relating to the identity and motives of the perpetrators (both German and non-German), the nature and extent of resistance, the role of survivors and their testimony in Holocaust-related trials.
Islam in Britain
This module will study contemporary Muslim communities in Britain with a view to understanding the key sociological and theological dynamics of these communities in terms of how they interact and relate to each other and wider British society within the context of Europe. The module will explore the historical establishment and settlement of British Muslims, from the nineteenth century onwards; the cultural and theological dimensions to religious identity and engagement of British Muslims; issues relating to education, social provision and political involvement; the development of community services such as halal food and halal regulation, mosques and funeral services. The module will also explore particular issues relating to popular perceptions and media portrayal of Islam and the social, psychological and theological impacts on Muslim communities post 9/11. There will be a series of fieldtrips to mosques and Muslim organisations within Birmingham to help facilitate student engagement in discussion of issues raised on the module, with Muslims in the city.
Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust
The module analyses a range of Jewish responses to the Holocaust, both as events were happening and subsequently. These responses fall into three broad chronological and/or thematic groupings: a) Orthodox responses emphasise continuity with what has gone before; b) Holocaust theology emerged in the mid 1960s and emphasises discontinuity, interpreting the Holocaust as a radical challenge in the face of which traditional categories of meaning are deemed inadequate and/or in need of radical reinterpretation; c) post-Holocaust responses are characterised by chronological and geographical distance from events and explore the impact of the Holocaust, and the ways in which it has been interpreted, on Jewish identity and Jewish/non-Jewish relations, particularly attitudes towards the Palestinians. In the module we focus on the contribution of key thinkers and the evolution of their thought, as well as on recurrent themes or controversies.
The course is a detailed study and critique of the rise and development of political Islam or Islamism in the Muslim world and beyond. As such, it critically examines and evaluates the origins, roots, theory and history of Islamism. The course assesses the impact and effects of this trend on contemporary Muslim thought. Also, it investigates the causes that have led to the emergence of political Islam, its nature, agendas and role in domestic, regional and international politics. Special emphasis will be placed on the distinction between the worldviews of political Islam and moderate Islam. The course will be approached from three angles: governments and their Islamic oppositions, Islamism in power, and the global aspect of political Islam.
Problems of Religious Diversity
This module aims to focus on a range of key perspectives and models on inter-religious engagement taken from selected theologians/philosophers, thinkers from different world religions and some non-religious perspectives. There will be an evaluative overview of the structure of the presuppositions and worldviews underlying the various responses to religious diversity. Attention will be given to discussing the theology and philosophy of religions, models of dialogue, and contemporary issues facing the future of religion and dialogue.
Religion and Peacebuilding
This module provides you with an understanding of contemporary theories and practices in the area of religion and peacebuilding. A wide range of education programmes, non-governmental organisations, new forms of diplomacy, conflict resolution efforts and post-conflict reconstruction engage with religious actors, responding to the increased relevance of religious factors in national and international conflicts. Examples of leading scholars (e.g. John Paul Lederach, R. Scott Appleby, Volker Rittberger) will be analysed and case studies of diverse localities as well as of institutional settings (e.g. political institutions) will provide the contemporary background.
Religion in Contemporary Politics I
This module provides you with an advanced level understanding of the theoretical and conceptual debates about the role of religion in contemporary global politics. Traditionally the study of political science and international relations has framed the understanding of religion within the context of secularisation and the nation-state. This interpretation is being contested by the impact of globalisation and the rise of anti-secular movements. The module critically examines the secularisation thesis as applied to the ‘West’ (developed countries) and the ‘East’ (underdeveloped countries) and evaluate the impact of globalisation on collective religious identities.
Religion in Contemporary Politics II
This module examines the public policy responses to the global religious revival since 1989. Although traditionally organised religions have been viewed as the source of intractable political conflicts, of introducing a ‘cosmic dimension’ into normal political life, in the last decade there has been an increasing recognition of the need to manage religious differences, to utilise religious resources for conflict resolution. Theoretically and conceptually this departure is anchored in the inter-related debates on multiculturalism, pluralism and the need for religious dialogue among the world’s great religion.
Sikh Perspectives on Interreligious Relations
This module will begin by looking at key concepts within Sikhism: God, Guru, Gender Equality, Salvation and Liberation. These concepts will be considered in relation to attitudes to other religions and, what might be called ‘alien contexts’. There will be a special concentration on Sikhism in diasporic contexts, particularly in the British context.