Introduction to Jewish Studies

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

College of Arts and Law


Code 24788

Level of study First Year

Credit value 10

Semester 1

Pre-requisite modules None

Other pre-requisites None

Module description

This module introduces and evaluates a number of competing narratives (or accounts/explanations) of the nature of Judaism, Jewishness and Jewish history and explores how they relate to each other. Considerable attention is paid throughout the module to questions of definition and methodology, paying particular attention to Second Temple Judaism and/or the modern and contemporary period.

In particular we will (a) identify and analyse key points in Jewish history which impacted on Jewish self-understanding, with particular reference to Second Temple Judaism and/or the modern period; (b) explore a number of key themes and preoccupations within historical and/or more modern and/or contemporary Judaism(s), for example, what constitutes a Jewish sacred text and how such texts are interpreted, the range of understandings of ‘who is a Jew’, the role of women in Judaism, the nature of sacred space etc.

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be delivered principally through interactive lectures, which will provide a broad range of information and ideas and also afford students the opportunity of exploring aspects of this material in more detail through group discussion and interaction. WebCT will be used to support these teaching and learning activities where appropriate. This course will, as far as possible, adhere to the chief principles of the University’s current Learning and Teaching strategy.