Theological Ethics

Department of Theology and Religion, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion

College of Arts and Law


Code 21389

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 20

Semester 1+2

Pre-requisite modules None

Other pre-requisites None

Module description

This module will introduce you to the nature, methods, insights, and contested dynamics of contemporary Christian ethics. For example, is there anything distinctive about Christian, as opposed to other kinds of ethics? What are some of the norms and principles that might inform such ethics? In what ways might theology, the Bible, common reason and the life of the church help to shape Christian ethics? Why do Christians using the same sources seem to come to very different conclusions about ethical issues? How does Christian ethical thinking and practice relate to other kinds of moral reasoning and practice in the contemporary world? How do and might Christians contribute to contemporary moral debates and issues?

After looking at some main theories and methods in ethical thinking you will go on to apply your theoretical knowledge by evaluating and analysing the place of Christian ethical approaches and insights in relation to a variety of social and personal issues in contemporary Western society. For example, how should Christians respond to world poverty? Are the poor really blessed? Can Christians support waging war or the creation and use of weapons of mass destruction? Is life sacred when it comes to foetuses or to murderers? Should criminals be punished or forgiven? Should people be allowed to end their own lives if they wish to do so? Should scientists be allowed to alter the genetic structure of human and non-human organisms? Do animals have rights? Should we all be vegans? Is sexual intercourse something that should only happen within marriage? Should gay people be condemned and excluded from the church until they repent and change their ways?

This module will help you to think and argue better, and it will require you to contribute fully to complex discussions of issues so it will help you to speak more confidently and cogently, too. Some of your most treasured assumptions about norms and values are likely to be called into question as you engage with some of the most contentious and interesting issues of our time. Ethics is about dynamic discussion, disagreement and argument about the nature of reality and of God and moral norms. This means that this module will involve your full participation, both orally and in writing. You may not be a morally better person when you have finished it, but you should be more aware of the complexity of contemporary ethical debates and assumptions, and you should be better able to hold your own in a complex and sensitive ethically-related discussion.

Teaching and learning methods

Tutor presentations, tutor facilitated seminars, student led presentations and seminars, student groupwork, individual study and between-session tasks.