Module VPR-1105:
Ethics: Religious Perspectives

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Eryl W Davies

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of the module is to enable students to appreciate the origins of ethical thought in the ancient world and to appreciate the similarites and differences between the moral outlook of the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and to consider its relevance for the moral perspectives later adopted in the Jewish, Christian and Buddhist traditions. Its purpose is also to illuminate the intimate association between religion and ethics and to consider the extent to which ethical norms form a part of religious teaching. To this end it will consider versions of the ‘divine command theory’ and how this theory is viewed by theists and non-theisits.

Course content

The module will begin with a discussion of the origin of ethics and will examine some of the relevant survivng materials relevant to the subject from the great civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt (including the stories about heroes who exemplified the kind of virtues most admired, and the legal codes which defined acceptable and unacceptable conduct). The module will then examine the ethical values of the Jewish religion, as reflected in the Old Testament, and the ethical values of the Christian tradition as reflected in the New Testament. This will be followed by an overview of ethical concerns in the Buddhist tradition. The module will conclude with an examination of the ‘divine command’ theory of ethics and will consider to what extent the moral good should be identified with God’s will or God’s command.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

D- - D +. Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows:

  • Generally accurate but with omissions and errors.
  • Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning.
  • Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions.
  • Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.

good

Good C- - C +. Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: - Good structure and logically developed arguments. - At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. - Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and sound reasoning. - Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.

Very Good B- - B+. Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: - Very good structure and logically developed arguments. - Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. - Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning. - Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.

excellent

A - - A*. Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways: - Has originality of exposition with the student’s own thinking being readily apparent. - Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study. - Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.

Learning outcomes

  1. the ability to interpret, in translation, some of the primary texts from Mesopotamia and Egypt, and those in the Old Testament and New Testament relating to ethical values

  2. the ability to analyse the origins of ethical values as reflected in some of the religious traditions of the world

  3. the ability to compare and contrast the main ethical emphases of the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism

  4. the ability to examine critically the strengths and weaknesses of the ‘divine command’ theory

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Case Study 50
Essay 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

Lectures two hours a week for 9 weeks

24
Private study 176

Transferable skills

  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Courses including this module