Religion, Philosophy and Ethics BA

   
   
  

Fact file - 2018 entry

Qualification
Religion, Philosophy and Ethics | BA Jt Hons
UCAS code
86V4
Duration
3 years full-time
A level offer
AAB (or BCC via a foundation year)
Required subjects
none  
IB score
34  
Course location
University Park  
Course places
15
 

Overview

This course will introduce you to our history’s most influential, powerful thinkers and their texts and enable you to analyse the profound questions which lie at the heart of religion, philosophy and ethics.
Read full overview
Our joint honours degree in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics draws on the combined expertise of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Department of Philosophy to offer one of the broadest humanities degrees, which is of the utmost relevance to the contemporary world. The political and social importance of religion in today’s society cannot be overestimated. Meanwhile, the world faces profound questions of human identity and ethics, which the philosophical and theological traditions tackle in many different ways.
This course will introduce you to our history’s most influential, powerful thinkers and their texts - from Plato, Augustine and Aquinas, to Kant, Marx and Freud. It will enable you to analyse the profound questions which lie at the heart of religion, philosophy and ethics: What is justice? Why care for the environment? Is there such thing as ‘duty’? What is ‘the good’? Is the universe created? Is there a human nature? What is ‘the mind’? Do I have a soul? Can we speak of God? Why pray? Do we have a natural desire for God? Does human life have purpose?  
 

Year one

Core modules in year one will introduce you to a wide range of issues in philosophy, religion and ethics from a variety of philosophical and theological perspectives. You may choose to focus on either philosophy or theology and religious studies in your choice of optional modules or combine the two.

Year two

Core modules are offered in Explaining Religion, Normative Ethics, and, Presentations: Great Religious Debates. Optional modules are chosen from those on offer in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, allowing you to develop your interests in areas studied in year one or study something new. 

Year three

In year three you will have the flexibility to focus on either philosophy or theology and religious studies, with a wide range of modules on offer in both departments, or you may choose to give equal weighting to both.
You will have the option of writing a dissertation, which will allow you to develop your interest in a particular subject through independent research.
 

Entry requirements

A levels: AAB
This course may also be accessed via a foundation year for which the entry requirements are BCC at A level, find out more here.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE), which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English. Successful students can progress onto their chosen degree course without taking IELTS again.

Alternative qualifications

We accept a broad range of qualifications. Please contact us to discuss your particular qualifications.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.     
 

Modules

Typical year one modules

Compulsory

Philosophy for Theologians

In this module you’ll be given an overview of the most important philosophical ideas, theories and arguments and their relation to religion and theology. You’ll begin by studying the Greek ‘natural theology’ of the pre-Socratic thinkers and end with the postmodern ‘turn to religion’ of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. For this module you’ll be taught through a combination of two hours of lectures each week and a seminar every other week.

 
Theology and Ethics in the Modern World

This module introduces the development of Western Christian theology from the Enlightenment to the present. It surveys the challenges posed to Christian faith by modernity and a range of theological responses to these challenges. In this way you’ll deal with central theological and ethical questions arising in the work and historical context of key thinkers such as Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard and Barth. You’ll be taught through two hours of lectures each week and a seminar every other week.

 
Introduction to Judaism
This module introduces Judaism from the beginnings of its formation to modernity. You’ll study major texts from the Second Temple period and Late Antique Judaism, the major developments of medieval Jewish culture under Islamic and Christian rule, and key topics in early modern and contemporary Judaism. There will be an emphasis on textual strategies of Jewish readings of the Bible and the Bible’s importance as a central religious symbol, particularly in terms of the foundation of the state of Israel. For this module you’ll have a lecture and a seminar each week.
 
Introduction to Islam

This module examines the narrative and textual foundations of the Islamic tradition including the Qur'an, the prophetic tradition and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. You’ll also look at the development and structure of Islamic society, law, doctrine and spirituality through the classical period, and Muslim responses to challenges posed by modernity including questions of gender and the nation state. You’ll have two hours of lectures each week and a seminar every other week.

 
Self, Mind and Body

In this module you’ll be introduced to the important central issues in philosophy of self, mind and body which continue to be debated to present day. You’ll examine Descartes’ Meditations focusing on his thoughts on dualism and mind-body interaction, comparing these with other related topics. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.

 
Introduction to Ethics
This module introduces you to some of the main ethical questions studied by philosophers. The first part focuses on some contemporary moral problems (for example, the justification of punishment). The second part of the course looks at some normative ethical theories and concepts that provide ways of approaching such moral problems. The third part of the course considers some challenges to the idea of systematic moral inquiry (such as relativism, egoism and emotivism). You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
 
Reasoning and Argument: An Introduction to Philosophical Method

In this module you’ll learn a series of key skills needed to follow critical methods of philosophical inquiry. The aim is to help you understand the structure and nature of arguments of others and improve your reasoning ability to assist you in your further studies during your course. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on other weeks throughout the semester.

 
Elementary Logic

This module provides an introduction to modern logic including technical vocabulary required to aide your understanding of modern philosophical work. You’ll discuss the symbolism of modern logic, the theory of the structure of thought and practice translation between symbolism and English. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.

 

Optional

Great Religious Texts 1 or 2

In this unique module you’ll read and discuss a wide range of important religious works including scriptural, philosophical, theological, and mystical texts. The aim is to explore the scope of the discipline of theology and religious studies and become familiar with a range of central questions as well as the processes of debate and critique. You’ll study primary texts from the Bible, the Qur’an and the Bhagavad-Gita as well as extracts from the work of Plato, Augustine, Anselm and Julian of Norwich, among others. Teaching is carried out through weekly seminar discussions led by your tutor for the module.

 
or
The Existence of God

This module will examine the basic philosophical issues that concern the existence of God. The lectures will cover such topics including: Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Design Argument, and the Problem of Evil. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.

 
Applied Ethics
 What is the moral status of animals? What are the limits of free speech? What are the moral issues when discussing abortion? Is affirmative action unjust? In this module you will be looking at these and other issues that arise when we try to put ethics into practice. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
 
Appearance and Reality

In this module you’ll examine some of the central themes surrounding the work of John Locke, one of the first philosophers who sought to integrate philosophy with our modern scientific worldview. Topics covered include: empiricism and science, perception, justification and scepticism and the nature of objects among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures and on some weeks an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on other weeks throughout the semester.

 
Issues in Feminist Philosophy

This module will provide an introduction to some of the issues discussed in contemporary feminist philosophy, considering a range of sometimes opposing feminist views on topics including: pornography, feminine appearance, and gender roles within the family and in the workplace. You’ll also examine the ways in which feminist writers have shown that matters not traditionally considered political do in fact have political significance. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.

 
The Bible in Music, Art and Literature

The Bible is one of the bestsellers and its influence on Western culture is unparalleled. This module explores the way in which the Bible is drawn upon in art, music and literature ranging from Jewish synagogue mosaics and early Christian iconography, to contemporary secular films and music. You’ll be encouraged to engage with case studies of works of art and critically consider the way in which art, music and literature function as biblical interpretations. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week for this module.

 
Plato 

This module will discuss a number of problems tackled by Plato. Attention will be given to the development of the theory of the forms, but we will be working towards an understanding of the motivations for the development of this theory which may be found in his moral/political philosophy. You’ll have two hours of lectures for some weeks and a hour-long lecture in others with an hour-long seminar throughout the semester.

 

Christian Thought and Culture to 1600

In this module you’ll learn about the lives and works of some of the main theologians ranging from the first Christian thinker in the 2nd century, up to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation movements of the 16th century. You’ll study figures such as Augustine, Aquinas and Luther, looking at their ideas but also placing them in their broader historical and ecclesiastical context. For this module you’ll have a combination of two hours of lectures and a one hour seminar each week.

 
History of Western Philosophy

Through considering some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived, you will become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas which have shaped western analytical philosophy. You will understand how and why these ideas arose and the context in which they were developed. The thinkers which could be covered include: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, St Augustine, St Aquinas, Hume, among others. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.

 
History, Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Bible

In this module you’ll be introduced to the literature, history and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. You’ll consider the biblical text as history, literature and scripture in both the Jewish and Christian Traditions. For this module you’ll have a two hour seminar each week.

 
Introduction to the Study of the New Testament

In this module you’ll gain an overview of the texts that makes up the New Testament and cover central methods, topics and issues in studying them including: the formation of the New Testament canon; the Roman, Greek and Jewish background to the New Testament; the development of historical criticism of the Synoptic Gospels; the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, and the authenticity of Paul’s letters. You’ll have a total of three hours of lectures each week for this module.

 

Islam and Gender

This module examines different approaches to the study of Islam and gender. We will look at texts of women and gender relations in the Qur'an, the Hadith and Islamic law. We will also consider the lived experience of gender and the development of Muslim feminist theology and critique, especially in 20th and 21st century Egypt and Iran. Topics will include Islamic marriage and family, Muslim women's rights and culture, sexuality and veiling (including recent European discussions), the gendering of space, and homosexuality. You’ll have two hours of lectures each week for this module.

 
 

Typical year two modules

Compulsory

Philosophy of Religion

In this module you’ll explore significant problems in the philosophy of religion, such as the credibility of the existence of God, the relation between religion and science, the relation between religion and morality, the problem of evil, and the possibility of an after-life. There will also be discussion of significant themes such as the nature of being, of faith, of religious experience, of religious language, and of religious love. You will consider significant thinkers including Plato, Anselm, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud and Weil. You’ll have two hours of lectures each week and a seminar every other week.

 
Normative Ethics

You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the main positions in contemporary normative ethics; their variations, strengths, weaknesses and historical precedents. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

 
Explaining Religion

This module surveys influential modern conceptions of religion and critically examines the theories of knowledge, interpretation, society and culture associated with them. It seeks to address forms of reductionism in the study of religion and to assess the role of religion in various aspects of society and culture. Among the approaches you’ll consider are neurology and evolutionary theories, Augustinian theology and Enlightenment scepticism, sociology, economics and Marxism. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture for this module. 

 

Presentations: Great Religious Debates

Great Religious Debates is part of a pathway - together with Great Religious Texts in the first year and the dissertation in the third year – that is intended to help you to develop your independent study skills and a range of transferable skills. Great Religious Debates develops the theological themes of the seminar-based Great Religious Texts module and is assessed by a presentation relating to one of the texts studied in the earlier module. You will have a weekly two-hour seminar for this module.

 

Optional

The Nature of Meaning

The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell, and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences. In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as `I', `now', and `here'. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

 
Freedom and Obligation

This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

 

 Twentieth Century Theology

Examining the major theologians of the last century this module will ask – what is nature, and what is grace? Likewise, what is natural and what is supernatural? This module will explore how theologians (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) have articulated this division and the many profound consequences that have arisen from such attempts. One central question will be how theology speaks of a creator and of creation, what their relation is, and how we are to understand the difference between them? Should we speak of an analogy of being – analogia entis, as Balthasar does or is such an idea idolatrous as Barth seemed to think it was, instead speaking of an analogy of faith? Is it theologically legitimate to posit a pure nature (natura pura) with its own independent telos or end to which grace is extrinsic, or is nature already imbued with a natural desire for grace? This module will trace the development of various heated debates that tackled the above questions and in so doing influenced the shape of twentieth century theology, the idea of secularism, the relation between philosophy and theology, and lastly, between theology and science. You’ll have two hours of lectures each week and a seminar every week.

 

Virtue Ethics and Literature

In this module you’ll be introduced to virtue ethics as an ancient form of moral practice, which has come back into prominence in recent years. Virtue ethics emphasises the lived experience of a tradition and is therefore narrative in character, offering itself naturally to literary embodiment. You’ll study key ancient Greek texts of the virtue tradition including Aristotle's Nichomachaen Ethics as well as works by Theophrastus, Cicero, Aquinas and contemporary reconstruals of the virtue tradition by Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. Virtue ethics will then be analysed in literary texts, such as Homer's Iliad, the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Graham Green's Brighton Rock. You’ll have a one hour lecture as well as two hours of seminars every week for this module.

 
Knowledge and Justification

This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as the following: the structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence; the justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification and the relation between your evidence and what you know, among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.

 
Money, Sex and Power: Religion and Critical Theory

This module explore the central questions such as ‘What is religion for?,’ ‘What interests does it serve?,’ and ‘Whether or not religion is 'true', may it be suspected of producing an illusory view of itself?’ You will be introduced to and explore three critical worldviews and their critiques of established religion: psychoanalysis (religion as wish-fulfilment); Marxian critical theory (religion as ideology); and Nietzschean scepticism (religion as will to power). You will examine the view of modern critical theories of religion that it is the drive of money, sex and power which govern the shape of life, and provide a framework for understanding all experience, including pre-eminently that of religion. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week for this module.

 
 

Typical year three modules

In year three you will have the flexibility to focus on either philosophy or theology and religious studies, or give equal weighting to both. Writing a dissertation is optional. Optional modules offered include:

Optional

Darwinism

What is Darwinism? Is it metaphysics, a philosophy, or ‘merely’ science. Does it entail atheism? Could it even accommodate theism? This module will explore Darwin’s theory of evolution, outlining its historical development up to the present day and considering the various debates that shaped its formation. You’ll explore the theory’s application in terms of Social-Darwinism, Sociobiology, and Evolutionary Psychology and the consequences this might have for our own self-understanding, and for how we interpret the world. The module is taught by Conor Cunningham, whose book Darwin’s Pious Idea and BBC documentary on the topic have ignited much debate. You’ll have two hours of lectures and an one hour seminar each week for this module.

 
Issues of Indeterminism 

This module explores the significance of indeterminism for such matters as counterfactual dependence and our sense that the future is open, causation, explanation, law and chance. It is grounded in seminal papers by one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers—namely, David Lewis. In these papers Lewis tries to show that counterfactual dependence, causation, explanation, law and chance all conform to the fundamental doctrine he calls 'Humean' supervenience. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.

 
The Spirit of Utopia: Critical Theory, Politics and Religion

In this module you’ll trace the development of Critical Theory from its beginnings in the original Frankfurt School, through its American offspring and its German continuation (Habermas, Honneth, Sloterdijk), up to its influence on French deconstruction (Derrida). The name of the module derives from the early work of Ernst Bloch, The Spirit of Utopia, which for the first time fused Marxist and Freudian ‘theories of suspicion’ with the Messianic idiom. You will explore the way that Critical Theory, far from being ‘atheistic,’ is, in fact, deeply influenced by a certain form of religious narrative deriving mostly from the sources of Jewish Messianism. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture for this module.

 
Environmental Ethics

Environmental ethics addresses the issue of how human beings should interact with the non-human natural world. This module will cover a range of topics from contemporary philosophical literature on environmental ethics. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.

 
Religion of Fantasy

This module offers an investigation into the rise of the fantasy genre at the precise point at which religion in the western world was challenged by the rise of rationalism, materialism and historical criticism. You’ll analyse a range of literary fantasies and fantastic tales as apologies, theodicies or critiques that seek to address these challenges. Authors studied include George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien's and C.S. Lewis. You’ll have three hours of seminars each week for this module.

 
Philosophy of Art

This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current view on expression and representation, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.

 
Sex, Violence and God: Ethics in the Hebrew Bible

This module will examine a range of ethical issues in the Hebrew Bible, considering the nature of ethical thought in ancient Israel and its relationship to surrounding ideas in the Ancient Near East, as well as the ongoing use of these texts as a moral resource right up to the present day. Topics for specific study include those such as the justification of violence and warfare, sexuality and gender issues, and ideas of social justice. The module is taught through a two hour seminar each week.

 

Modern Jewish Thought

This module will present modern Jewish thought from a theologico-philosophical perspective as an interesting alternative to both Christian and secular models of thinking. Modern Jewish thought emerges from 'the crisis of tradition' (Gershom Scholem) which it tries to resolve in many different ways: either intrinsic to Judaism itself (e.g. Lurianic Kabbalah) or in dialogue with Western philosophy (from Spinoza to Derrida). The module will emphasize the creative impact of Jewish thinkers on the development of modernity by showing the various ways in which these thinkers renegotiate and redefine the most crucial opposition between Athens and Jerusalem, or, in their own rendering, between Yaphet and Shem.

 
Jewish Philosophy and Theology: From Philo to Levinas

The module will provide an overview of the most important theological and philosophical ideas, theories and arguments that Jewish thought developed from the Hellenistic period of Philo of Alexandria to the postmodern times of Emmanuel Levinas. The method of instruction will combine historical and speculative approaches, using the perspective of the 'history of ideas'. The module reflects the way that Jewish thought has not developed in isolation, but in intense dialogue with the surrounding Christian, Muslim and secular cultures throughout the ages. You’ll have two hours of lectures each week and a seminar every other week.

 

God and Money

This is a module in the philosophy of political economy. It explores the tensions between earlier visions of society where obligation, personal fulfilment, trust, and the common good were understood primarily in religious terms, and a modern society where these are understood primarily in economic terms. 

 
 

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

 
 

Careers

A degree from The University of Nottingham is highly sought after among graduate employers. Studying in the Departments of Theology and Religious Studies and Philosophy will equip you for a variety of positions that require the analysis of texts and complex issues, reasoned decision-making and problem-solving, sensitivity to cultural and religious diversity, and the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively. 
In addition, the influence of religion on society, whether in faith communities or elsewhere, is such that you will be in a position to make a valuable contribution across a range of careers. Recent graduates work in areas such as law, teaching, journalism and publishing, politics, and the charity sector.
 

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 94% of first-degree graduates in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £18,154 with the highest being £30,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates, 2014/15.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students. 

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.

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Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 40 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.

 
 
 

Key Information Sets (KIS)


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Assessment

This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment. 

How to use the data

Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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