You will study one core module - Research Methods - and choose five optional modules from a range which includes:
Bible and Sacred Space
This module will examine spatial concepts within biblical texts (primarily the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, with some reference to other Second Temple and early Christian literature) 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 examing biblical space in light of contemporary political conflicts (Israel/Palestine and Jerusalem in particular).
Christian-Muslim Relations: Origins and Issues
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 will explore 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. Legal case studies affecting the diasporic Sikh community; Kirpan and Turban will be looked at. The consequences of the play Behzti will be considered. The new religious, ethical and moral issues confronting Sikhs, e.g. abortion, homosexuality will be looked at.
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.
Feminism in Islam
The course explores the development of feminism in the Muslim world, in particular the feminist movements active in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Iran, considering the aims and objectives and methodologies of these movements. Different perspectives and ideological narratives and discourses are explored, such as Muslim secular feminism and the development of Islamic feminism. Particular feminist writers and scholars are critically evaluated within these movements, such as Nawal Al-Sadawi, Fatimah Mernissi and Amina Wadud. The impact of feminism on Muslim societies is explored and evaluated during the course.
Historical and Contemporary Debates on the Holocaust
The module introduces students 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 conceptualised 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.
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 radical Islamism 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 in Contemporary Politics I
This module provides you with an advanced 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.
- Classic Problems in the Philosophy of Religion
- Islamic Philosophy
- The Dead Sea Scrolls: Texts and Context