Dissertation Preparation (20 credits)
This module provides a structured framework enabling you to gain professional skills in presentation and teamwork, as well as identifying an appropriate dissertation area, research question and supervisor, and completing the initial planning and research for your dissertation.
The placement module allows you to spend time in a school, charity, or other situation in the UK or abroad for about two weeks and then to reflect critically on this in a written report in the light of your studies in Theology and Religion and your career aspirations.
Example optional modules may include:
Auschwitz in History and Memory (20)
This is an interdisciplinary module. Topics covered relating to Auschwitz in history include the evolution and multi-functionality of the site; the experience of non-Jews; gendered experiences; the nature of survival and of resistance in KL Auschwitz; the Sonderkommando; perpetrators and perpetrator texts. Topics covered relating to Auschwitz in memory will focus on the cultural and symbolic ‘afterlife’ of the site and include visual representations of Auschwitz (art, photographs, film); memorialisation of the site; the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim with particular reference to its evolution over time, and to permanent and national exhibitions there; Auschwitz as a site of mass/dark tourism, and as a site of pilgrimage and (contested) sacred space.
Biblical Hebrew Language (20)
This module is designed to help you to read and understand the texts of the Hebrew Bible at a basic level and as a foundation for further study.
This module will provide an overview of the Buddhist tradition, covering historical backgrounds and subsequent development; key concepts and teachings, including the Four Noble Truths, concepts of ‘no-self’, emptiness, rebirth and enlightenment; the diversity of traditions; and practice. Contemporary movements and issues will be explored, and there will be an opportunity to engage with Buddhist communities in the West Midlands.
Islam and the West (10)
The module explores the background and current interactions between Muslims and the Western world. It explores definitions of the terms ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’, and provides an overview of the historical contacts between the Muslim world and the West, assessing their contemporary relationship. The images of Islam and Muslims in the Western context will also be discussed. The module will focus on the impact of 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror and their implications for the relationship between the two cultural and religious contexts. The module will in particular explore contemporary developments in the Muslim world and their impact on future international relations, such as the rise of radical Islamist groups.
New Testament Greek (20)
This module aims to introduce students to New Testament Greek. A text-book will be followed which will offer an introduction to vocabulary and grammatical concepts based on passages from the New Testament. Students will be shown how to use standard reference works, such as dictionaries, to assist in understanding texts in the original language. The course will enable students to translate simple passages as well as increase their awareness of some of the challenges of biblical interpretation.
Religion and the Arts (10)
This module will assess the importance and significance of art in its many different forms as a tool for the communication, interpretation and critique of religious and theological ideas and ideologies. It will focus on a range of artefacts, including works of fine art, stained glass, sculpture, literature, film and music, and upon buildings and architectural features, offering an introduction to the development of religious art and seeking to read a range of works from the perspectives of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Students will learn how to read and appreciate such artefacts as theological resources as well as cultural ones, and reflect upon issues such as what it is that makes art religious and how cultural outputs and artefacts can have spiritual impact.
Religion in Contemporary Society (20)
This module aims to introduce students to current debates within the sociology of religion as they relate to religion and lived faith in the context of contemporary global society in general and British culture in particular, focussing most specifically on urban contexts. It will examine the broader contemporary social context in which religion and the construction of meaning takes place, as well as how religious groups are responding to contemporary social trends and pressures. The module will look at religious culture and traditions from a range of major UK faiths and explore how those faiths interact with each other, considering issues such as:
- the growth and ‘settlement’ of non-Christian religious communities
- transnational and translocal religious communities
- the spread and diversification of alternative spiritualities
- religion in welfare, education, media, politics and law
- theoretical perspectives on religious change
The module will focus on faith issues such as fundamentalism, identity and the nature of religious community, and engage with the exploration of cultural heritage across several religions and beliefs and cross-cultural comparisons of their practices, traditions and beliefs.
The module will provide an introduction to Sikhism and will cover its origins and fundamental beliefs as well as an analysis of religion and cultural issues facing Sikhs today. Particular attention will be paid to women and children, and to the Sikh diaspora. Subjects to be studied may include: the origins of Sikhism; fundamental beliefs in Sikhism; teachings of the Gurus and their applications, ie caste and dowry; women in Sikhism; Sikhism: adaptation and change in a new environment.
Special Study (20)
This module affords students the opportunity of detailed critical engagement with a specific issue in Theology & Religion in an independent study context working with a supervisor to be appointed by the Department.
Theological Ethics (20)
This module will introduce you to the nature, methods, insights, and contested dynamics of contemporary theological ethics. For example, is there anything distinctive about theological, as opposed to other kinds of ethics? What are some of the norms and principles that might inform such ethics? Why do members of the same faith communities, using the same sources seem to come to very different conclusions about ethical issues? How does theological ethical thinking and practice relate to other kinds of moral reasoning and practice in the contemporary world? After looking at some main theories and methods in ethical thinking you will apply your theoretical knowledge by evaluating and analysing the place of theological ethical approaches and insights in relation to a variety of social and personal issues in contemporary Western society.
Women in Islam (10)
The module examines the position of women in Islam, dealing in particular with their legal and social status and religious rights, by analysing the institutions of education, marriage, inheritance, divorce and family life, as well as political engagement. Special attention will be given to the different religious interpretations concerning Muslim women’s roles in private and public life, from a range of approaches, such as conservative, modernist and feminist perspectives. In particular, comparisons of practices and customs which affect the position and role of women in various Muslim societies will be explored and critically evaluated. Specific issues will be discussed during the module which affect Muslim women, such as domestic and societal violence against women, FGM, dress codes, forced marriage, and honour killings. The views of key feminist writers and scholars will also be highlighted.