Compulsory modules (choose one of the following):
Dissertation (Theology and Religion) (40 credits)
This is a major piece of independent work for which a topic is identified and research is carried out with supervisory help to produce a 12,000-word essay.
6,000-word Dissertation (Theology and Religion) (20)
The 6,000-word dissertation is a piece of substantial independent research on a subject in Theology and/or Religion chosen by the individual student, but subject to approval by the Department.
Placement-based Dissertation (Theology and Religion) (40)
The placement-based dissertation is an extended piece of substantial independent research (9,000 words) on a topic in Theology and/or Religion linked to a specific placement context chosen by the individual student, but subject to approval by the Department. Students negotiate a placement involving a minimum of 100 hours in a setting of their own choice, subject to approval from the Department.
Philosophical Project (20 or 40 credits)
This module allows you to conduct independent research into and write on a particular philosophical issue of your choice, with assistance from a project supervisor with expertise in your chosen topic.
Dissertation (Politics) (40)
The dissertation is your chance to study a topic of particular interest to you. You decide on the topic which should have some relevance to politics or international studies.
The aim is to apply the knowledge (theory and techniques) you have acquired over the past two years. It gives you a chance to demonstrate your ability to work on your own, acquire knowledge about a specialised area of study, use your initiative in the collection and presentation of material, undertake a thorough review of the literature, draw appropriate conclusions and present a clear, cogent argument. The dissertation may involve the presentation of new knowledge or the use of primary sources, but this is not an expectation.
Example optional modules may include (depending on the credit value of the compulsory module selected, you will choose optional modules that bring your total for your final year to 120 credits. You will choose at least 20 credits from each group):
Group A (Theology and Religion)
Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust (20)
The module analyses a range of JRR, 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 (e.g., providence, covenant, election) are deemed inadequate and/or in need of radical reinterpretation;
c) Post-Holocaust responses (the 1990s ff) 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 (e.g., Ephraim Oshry, Elie Wiesel, Richard Rubenstein, Emil Fackenheim, David Blumenthal, Melissa Raphael) and the evolution of their thought, as well as on recurrent themes or controversies (such as the Holocaust as punishment for sin, the relevance of Kiddush Hashem or ‘martyrdom’ as a response during the Holocaust; Holocaust testimony as sacred text; how to appropriately memorialise the Holocaust within the Jewish calendar and the relationship between Jewish commemoration of these events and national and international Holocaust Memorial Days; the mythologization and ‘sanctification’ of the Holocaust, the Holocaust and civil Judaisms)
Politics in the Name of God (20)
This module reviews and evaluates the significance of religion in global politics and international relations and its intersection with domestic politics and public policy. Whilst recent analysis of religion and politics has generally focused principally on Islam, this module recognises the role of the major religions (defined as those faiths with a ‘world-wide’ presence) in the shaping of the politics of nation-states and the development of the international system. The module will survey the approach to religion adopted by major theories of international relations and discuss their most relevant insights, in order to understand contemporary political challenges, which include those of democratisation, political development, political violence, gender, the environment, economic affairs, humanitarian intervention, globalisation and other concerns that can intersect both with religious groups and ideas. The module will also look at the role of religion in various aspects of politics: institutions and structures, political parties, civil society and social movements, and economic development.
Thealogy: Transgressive Travels with the Goddess (20)
An introduction to key themes of thealogy, its thinkers, and its theoretical concerns. The application of thealogy to a postfeminist context is explored, particularly in relation to the reclamation of femininity, images of domestic and sexual ‘goddesses’, and the discourses of choice, power and agency.
Group B (Politics)
Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy (20)
The first semester surveys the history, institutions, and drivers of US policy. The second surveys some of the most pressing contemporary security challenges facing the United States, and the policies with which it has sought to address them. Topics include counterterrorism, military intervention, the changing nature of threats, and the challenge of rising powers.
European Union Foreign and Security Policy (20)
Current international events have intensified focus on the European Union's role in a globalised world. The standard view presents EU efforts to develop a united and coherent political identity as relatively unsuccessful. A contrasting view has emerged suggesting that the EU has gradually developed a distinctive identity in international affairs, predicated upon an increasing degree of unity on core European norms and values. From this perspective the EU is seen as developing normative power that compares favourably to the US's soft (and hard) power.
The proposed module will explore these debates over the EU's effectiveness as a normative power in its external relations with a number of strategically important areas of the world.
Topics in British Politics (20)
This module will allow students to develop a specialised interest in British politics. Students will examine key trends and 'topics' in British politics from an historical, conceptual and policy-related perspective.
The course opens with six lectures aimed at providing students with an overview of key developments in, and scholarship on, post-war British politics, prior to more focused seminar work on a range of topics.
The lectures cover key developments in postwar British politics, debates about state institutions and civil society in Britain and analytical approaches to studying topics in British politics.
In the seminars students will be asked to examine specific 'topics' in British politics through the lens of the key themes outlined in the lecture series. The topics are as follows: Political Change in Postwar;Britain; ‘Blairism’ and New Labour; Cameron and the Transformation of the Conservative Party; Constitutional Reform in Contemporary Britain.
These topics are designed to allow students to focus on a range of issues relating to the state and civil society in Britain. The course is aimed at equipping students with an overview of key developments in British politics by focussing on issues such as change & continuity, power, policy developments and institutional change.
Group C (Philosophy)
Being Good and Doing Right: Issues in Contemporary Moral Theory (20)
What is the good life? What moral requirements are there on us? Should we aim to do whatever our moral duty is, or should we aim to be good people? Questions like these are the subject-matter of moral theory. This module will examine issues found in recent work in moral theory, including some of the following:
- Should we think that the consequences of our actions are all that matters to the morality of those actions?
- If this view (consequentialism) is true, what form does the best version of consequentialism take?
- Is there a contemporary version of Kantianism that is a more plausible moral theory?
- Are there good objections to both consequentialist and Kantian theories, such as the objection that someone who lived the way those theories require would not be a good person, or would not have a good life?
- Can a Kantian or a Consequentialist be a friend?
- What philosophical account can we give of friendship and love, and how might these relate to ethics?
Global Bioethics (20)
This course introduces students to the increasing number of dilemmas in bioethics that cross national boundaries and transcend domestic regulation. Bioethical dilemmas, whether arising from scientific and technological developments or from the research practices of pharmaceutical companies, raise issues which cannot be effectively addressed at national or regional levels. Bioethics clearly calls for global solutions to what are global dilemmas and students will be introduced to some of the key bioethical issues which arise in the contemporary global context.
This module explores Nietzsche’s views on naturalism and normativity. We will consider questions like: Are all properties natural properties? Are the methods of the sciences privileged? Should philosophical inquiry be continuous with the sciences, and, if so, how? Are there any facts about what is morally right or wrong, or evaluatively good or bad? What are the origins of our normative views? How should our answer to this question affect what norms and values we should accept?
Prejudice, Race and Gender (20)
We take ourselves to be rational agents, going about in the world in a fairly rational manner. Even if we don’t always end up doing so, we assume that acting and judging rationally is within our reach if we try to do so. However, we also commonly recognise that our judgements and actions are sometimes prejudiced in various ways. This module is an investigation into the different faces of prejudice, its bearing on our conception of ourselves as rational agents, and its ethical and political implications. The guiding questions are whether the existence of prejudice undermines our capacity for rational judgement and action in significant ways, and what we might be morally required to do to address any shortcomings.
Topics in Philosophy of Religion (20)
This module is split into four parts:
- Is there a God? (We’ll examine contemporary arguments in natural theology such as up-to-date versions of the cosmological and teleological argument; as well as the problem of evil)
- Can you be justified in believing that there’s a God (examining, e.g., Flew’s presumption of atheism, contemporary theories from Plantinga concerning theistic belief and Pascal’s Wager)
- What would the world be like if there were a God (examining God’s alleged attributes, e.g. omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence etc., as well as whether He is in time or not; as well as examining whether we could make sense of God interacting with the world, say through miracles or petitionary prayer)
- What would the world be like if the God were the God of Christianity (can we make sense of Christian views about the afterlife? does it make any sense to say there’s only one God but three Divine People – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? does it make sense to say Jesus is God? does sin, original sin, or Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins, make any sense?)