MA Philosophy and Religion

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Comments about MA Philosophy and Religion - At the institution - Kensington and Chelsea - Greater London

  • Objectives
    Aims of the Degree -To provide a foundation in reflective study of philosophical and theological questions relating to religious belief -To provide the conceptual tools necessary for a critical and evaluative grasp of certain fundamental questions of philosophy of religion and theology -To appreciate some aspects of the history of philosophical and theological approaches to religious questions and how that history has influenced contemporary approaches -To provide a foundation in fundamental Christian ethics, with particular attention paid to its social applicability in a context of cultural pluralism -To provide an opportunity for students to apply general ethical principles of theory and method in particular situations -To provide an opportunity for students to appreciate the diverse ways in which different religious traditions have approached fundamental religious questions -To provide an opportunity for students to explore the relationship between religious faith, reason and practical living. Objectives By the end of the programme, each student should have: -An appreciation of some aspects of the history of philosophy of religion and theology and how that history has influenced contemporary approaches -A critical and evaluative grasp of a representative range of contemporary approaches and issues in philosophy and theology -A demonstrably competent knowledge of critical areas/issues in the related disciplines -A clear understanding of the relevance of the various disciplines for issues arising in contemporary society -The capacity to carry out personal research and produce formal written work within the subject area
  • Entry requirements
    The course is suitable for those engaged in the study or practice of religion, teachers or anyone who wishes to gain a deeper understanding of religious belief.
  • Academic title
    MA Philosophy and Religion
  • Course description

    Core Modules

    Philosophy of Religion

    This module examines the bedrock of religious belief.  What does it mean to talk of God or to say that God exists?  How are attributes of God such as omnipotence and omniscience to be understood?  How can we use human language to talk about a transcendent God? (Includes a discussion of analogy, metaphor, and approaches stemming from Wittgenstein).  Can God act in the world?  Can miracles happen?  Can God answer prayer?  What does it mean to have eternal life?  Why does a good God allow suffering?  The module is challenging and does not argue for any single view – leaving participants to make up their own minds.

    Twentieth Century Religious Thought
    This module examines how selected 20th Century religious writers think of the relation of God to human experience.  Areas covered include: Emmanuel Levinas on ethics, Torah and revelation; Rabbi Shapira on the Holocaust and divine suffering; Martin Buber on I-Thou relations; Karl Barth’s doctrine of humanity’s election in grace; Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan on God’s presence in relation to the human mind; Simone Weil on love of God and affliction; von Balthasar on divine self-emptying.

    Two modules to be chosen from the following:

    Principles of Christian Ethics
    This module provides an introduction to some major themes in Christian ethical theory and areas of contemporary debate.  Because Christians in this country are living and reflecting in a multicultural society, where contentious moral questions are often decided by legislation, the module will also give an initial understanding of how this context affects moral debate.

    Ethical Issues Today
    This module introduces students to current debates about a range of contemporary ethical issues, including environmental ethics, media ethics, penal ethics and professional ethics and helps them to acquire a personal understanding of the value of the Christian approaches in addressing these issues.

    Medical and Sexual Ethics
    This module will enable students to apply the principles of moral theology to various moral problems in the medical and sexual sphere, such as euthanasia, gene therapy, divorce and second marriage, homosexual activity, transplants and abortion.

    Selected themes in European Philosophy
    This module explores a number of the themes that have emerged from the fascinating and challenging history of European philosophy.  Areas to be covered include: theories of explanation; God and morality; truth and language; philosophy and science.  The module will draw on the thought of a long line of renowned thinkers: from Plato, Aristotle and Late Antiquity, to medieval thinkers, through the Enlightenment period to Nietzsche, and 20th century philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Heidegger.

    The Franciscan Spiritual Tradition: Faith, Reason and Spirituality
    This module will explore the spiritual and theological tradition that originated with St Francis of Assisi.  It firstly examines the spiritual writings of Francis and Clare of Assisi and then moves on to see how their experience was reflected upon and developed for a wider audience in the theological and spiritual writings of the early Franciscan writers,  Bonaventure, and John Duns Scotus.  The module will finally consider how the Franciscan tradition provides insights for issues of contemporary spirituality, including the Spirituality of Beauty and the Integrity of Creation.

    Individual students, subject to interview, may take options from the MA  Christianity and Inter-religious Dialogue, which is presently undergoing  Programme Development.  Modules on offer might include:

    -Religions in the Modern World
    -The Islamic Tradition in a Modern Context
    -Indian Religions - history and culture
    Unity and Diversity in Islamic Thought Year 2009-2010
    This module aims to explore the main historical events and theological issues of beliefs and practices in Islam and its internal diversity. It will cover historical background to the rise of Islam, the life & career of the Prophet Muhammed, Classical & modern approaches to the Qur'an, creeds & theological schools, Shari'a and ethical issues, reason & revelation, and (Sufism) mysticism.
    The course will illustrate the internal diversity of Muslim interpretations of their faith and its manifestation.


    Students must choose one option from Michaelmas Term and one option from Lent Term.

    In choosing their options, students have a Pathways option –

    1. The ethics pathway (Principles of Christian Ethics followed by either Ethical Issues Today or Medical and Sexual Ethics – Principles of Christian Ethics is a prerequisite for the later options.)

    2. The philosophic pathway (Selected Themes of European Philosophy followed by The Franciscan Spiritual Tradition: Faith, Reason and Spirituality [integration of religion and philosophy]

    This Degree is taught with a module rotation schema.  This will work as follows:

    -The Core Modules, Philosophy of Religion and Twentieth Century Religious Thought, will be taught every year.
    -The optional modules Principles of Christian Ethics, Ethical Issues Today and Medical and Sexual Ethics will be offered every year. 
    -The optional modules Selected Themes in European Philosophy and The Franciscan Spiritual Tradition will be taught in alternate years.

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