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Study information

Religion in the Modern World

Module titleReligion in the Modern World
Module codeTHE1076
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr David Tollerton (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 ‘religion’ and ‘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 do religion and politics relate to the diverse experiences of varied communities?’ 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 in writing awareness of the multi-faceted complexity of religion in the modern world, and in particular experiences of the Abrahamic faiths in Britain today
  • 2. Demonstrate in writing a basic knowledge and understanding of debate about religion and politics
  • 3. Show some ability to research, 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 in writing a 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
  • 5. Begin, with guidance, to analyse key texts used in the modern study of religion
  • 6. Demonstrate in writing 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 written work within clear guidelines
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to summarise information accurately and fairly
  • 9. Communicate clearly in written form, making use of selected textual sources and addressing sensitive topics with appropriate generosity
  • 10. Demonstrate an awareness of the module as a learning community by listening to the viewpoints of others, contributing sensitively to discussion, and critically reflecting on the learning process 

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:

  • What is Religion?
  • Church and State
  • Religion and Freedom of Expression
  • Exploring Secularism
  • Judaism in Britain Today
  • Islam in Britain Today
  • Debates on Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism

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 Teaching2211 x 2-hour lectures (asynchronous)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1111 x 1-hour seminars (synchronous)
Guided Independent Study117Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan500 words1-9Oral

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
Essay501800 words1-9Written
Blog piece40800 words1-9Written
Participation 10In-class participation 10Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9Referral/Deferral period
Blog pieceBlog piece1-9Referral/Deferral period
Participation 30 minute 1-1 tutorial 10Referral/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

  • Rex Ahdar and Ian Leigh, Religious Freedom in the Liberal State (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Grace Davie, Religion in Britain: A Persistent Paradox (Hoboken: Wiley, 2015).
  • Gordon Lynch, The Sacred in the Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto, Religion and Change in Modern Britain (London: Routledge, 2012)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


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