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Study information

Religion in the Modern World

Module titleReligion in the Modern World
Module codeTHE1076
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Jonathan Hill (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module, you will develop an informed and questioning approach to religion (including the meaning of ‘secularism’ and ‘post-Secularism’, challenges to the freedom of religion, whether the state should be neutral regarding religion, and other points of contact between religion and politics) in the modern world. When addressing the meaning of ‘religion’ you will engage with key texts, and from this theoretical basis consider more contemporary social questions about religion in Western societies today including: ‘What is religion?’ and ‘How can religion become a potent force for healing in today’s world?’ The module is suitable for students from a range of disciplines.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to

  • Introduce you to the modern phenomenon of religion
  • Introduce key issues pertaining to religion in the modern world, e.g., whether the state can and/or should be neutral regarding matters of religion; selected debates about secularisation in the UK and Western Europe; and new models of religious pluralism
  • Help you to develop in an informed and questioning approach to religion in the modern world

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate basic knowledge and understanding of major concepts and issues of modern debate surrounding religion, secularisation and religious pluralism, and to be aware of recent developments in the field
  • 2. Demonstrate basic knowledge and understanding of how debate about religion has affected selected political theory in the twentieth century
  • 3. Show some ability to analyse, with guidance, the multidisciplinary issues raised by modern debate about religion

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate awareness of the multi-faceted complexity of religion in the modern world, and in particular some aspects of the relationship between the Abrahamic faiths in Britain today
  • 5. Begin, with guidance, to recognise and analyse core methods used in the modern study of religion
  • 6. Demonstrate awareness of how personal and communal identities and motivations are shaped by religion, how this has both constructive and destructive effects in societal life

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Undertake directed work within clear guidelines
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to summarise information accurately and fairly
  • 9. Make use of selected written sources, with clear guidance
  • 10. Participate appropriately in a learning group
  • 11. Communicate clearly in written form
  • 12. Discuss sensitive issues with appropriate generosity

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introductions, including Church and State
  • What is Religion?
  • Reason and Freedom: The Challenge of Relativism
  • Exploring Secularism
  • Religious Liberty: Public Neutrality and the Challenge of Reasoning in a Democracy
  • Judaism in Britain Today
  • Must Democracy Be Religiously Neutral?
  • Islam in Britain Today
  • Law and Religion: Rowan Williams on Sharia Law
  • New Possibilities for Multifaith Relations

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities11Seminars (11 x 1 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2Small group tutorial
Guided independent study126Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
One draft essay 1000 words1-9, 11-12Peer feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay402200 words1-9, 11-12Written
Team work project102500 words or equivalent1-11Written
Examination501 hour1-1Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9, 11Referral/Deferral period
Team work projectTo be arranged with module convenor1-11Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-12Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Roger Trigg, Religion in Public Life: Must Faith be Privatized? (OUP, 2007)
  • Meredith McGuire, Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life (OUP, 2008)
  • Peter Berger, Grace Davie, et al., Religious America, Secular Europe? (Ashgate, 2008)
  • Thomas Banchoff, Ed., Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism (OUP 2007)
  • Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Belknap Press, 2007).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Where possible, we shall visit local religious sites and meet practising members of Abrahamic faith communities

Key words search

Religion, secular, scripture

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date

March 2014