Modules for course VV56 | BA/PHRE
BA Philosophy and Religion

This is a provisional list of modules to be offered on this course in the 2019–20 academic year.

The list may not be complete, and the final course content may be different.

You can also view the modules offered in the years: 2017–18; 2018–19.

Find out more about studying and applying for this degree.

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Year 1 Modules

Optional Modules

120 credits from:

  • VPR-1103: Existentialism (20) (Semester 1)
    The module will begin with an overview of the meaning of existentialism, its key themes and thinkers. The module is then divided into five parts. In part one we examine the philosophical groundwork that underpins existentialism as a theory. Here students will be introduced to such ideas as Sartre’s concepts of consciousness, being, nothingness, facticity and transcendence. In part two we explore the importance of freedom to the human condition, and the meaning behind Sartre’s famous slogans, ‘we are condemned to be free’, and ‘existence precedes essence’. Here we will examine the first of our contemporary films, The Truman Show, in order to demonstrate the validity of these ideas within society today. Part three then surveys the notion of the ‘absurd’ as a philosophical concept and identifies its trace in literature, art, and film. Students will examine a variety of responses to the absurd, including those outlined by Kafka, Camus, and Kierkegaard. We will then watch the film Ground hog Day with a view to identifying how these responses can be portrayed in contemporary film. Part four examines Sartre’s notion of bad faith, and the ease in which we fail to respond adequately to the demands of existentialism. Finally, part five considers the effect that others have on our existence and in our capacity to engage our lives authentically.
  • VPR-1104: Death of God (20) (Semester 2)
    The module begins by examining how the events of Nietzsche’s life and the cultural climate of his time are reflected in his writing style and the ideas he seeks to expound. Following this introduction, the module is divided into four parts. In part one we explore the philosophical context for why God’s death is deemed a necessity for Nietzsche. Here we look at his criticism of Christianity and Platonism, and examine his concepts of will to power, slave and master morality, bad conscience and ressentiment. In part two we examine the nature of God’s death, and by looking at a variety of Nietzsche’s writings, we piece together how God ‘died’. In part three, we begin to investigate the implications of the death of God for our understanding of morality, truth, and suffering. Here students are introduced to Nietzsche’s idea of a revaluation of values, and his famous conceptions of the Übermensch (or superman), eternal recurrence, and the relevance of Dionysus. Finally, in part 4 we revisit the key ideas that have been explored within this module to entertain a controversial yet coherent reading of Nietzsche’s philosophy—one that proposes the possibility of God’s return.
  • VPR-1105: Ethics: Religious Perspectives (20) (Semester 2)
    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.
    or
    VPC-1105: Moeseg: Agweddau Crefyddol (20) (Semester 2)
    Bydd y modiwl yn dechrau gyda thrafodaeth ar darddiad moeseg a bydd yn edrych ar beth o'r deunyddiau perthnasol i'r pwnc sydd wedi goroesi o ddiwylliannau mawr Mesopotamia a'r Aifft (yn cynnwys storïau am arwyr a ymgorfforai'r rhinweddau a edmygid fwyaf, a'r codau cyfreithiol a ddiffiniai ymddygiad derbyniol ac annerbyniol). Bydd y modiwl wedyn yn archwilio gwerthoedd moesegol y grefydd Iddewig, fel yr adlewyrchir hwynt yn yr Hen Destament, a gwerthoedd moesegol y traddodiad Cristnogol, fel yr adlewyrchir hwynt yn y Testament Newydd. Yn dilyn hynny ceir golwg gyffredinol ar faterion moesegol sy'n gysylltiedig â'r traddodiad Bwdistaidd. Daw'r modiwl i'w derfyn drwy edrych ar ddamcaniaeth foesegol 'gorchymyn dwyfol', a bydd yn ystyried i ba raddau y dylid uniaethu daioni moesol ag ewyllys Duw neu orchymyn Duw.
  • VPR-1106: Intro: Judaism & Christianity (20) (Semester 1)
    The module outlines of some of the basic tenets of the Jewish faith as reflected in the Old Testament and the Christian faith as reflected in the New Testament. Among issues considered will be the contribution to the Jewish faith by the rabbis and the controversies faced by Judaism over the centuries, culminating in a discussion of issues relating to the holocaust. Among Jewish philosophers discussed will be Maimonides and Martin Buber. The modules will then turn to the Christian faith and will examine some of the theological issues arising from the New Testament, with a particular focus on Paul’s theology and the Early Church Fathers, such as Origen and Eusebius. There will also be a discussion of a representative sample of major Christian thinkers over the centuries.
  • VPR-1109: Introduction to Islam (20) (Semester 1)
    Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion, yet for most people its beliefs and practice remain obscure despite having close religious connection with Judaism and Christianity. For this reason, this module has been designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to Islamic faith, philosophy and practice. The module will introduce students to the study of Islamic theology by exploring the emergence and development of Islam, from its origins in the seventh century to its modern revival. Therefore, the module will guide students through the following aspects of the study of Islam: (1) Introduce students to the history and development of early and modern Islam (against the background of social and cultural contexts); (2) Examine core Islamic beliefs and practices; and (3) Investigate the wider Islamic tradition by surveying Islamic law, philosophy and mysticism.
  • VPR-1110: Themes - Eastern Religion/Phil (20) (Semester 2)
    This module offers an introduction to the philosophical and religious development of key eastern religious traditions - Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Shinto – and provides a detailed overview of their origins, histories, doctrines and scriptures. In order to explore a wide spectrum of religious and philosophical beliefs, the following will be considered teaching priorities: (1) Survey of the beliefs and practices of six Eastern religions and philosophies; (2) understand the multifaceted religious heritage of the six Eastern religions – from the pre-modern era to contemporary religious practice; (3) Examination of the mutual influences and intersections of the Eastern religions and philosophies and how they interact with other elements of Eastern culture and society; (4) Deconstruct the East and West meeting points, focusing on the spread and influence of Eastern religion and philosophy in the West.
  • VPR-1300: Intro to Philosophy of Religio (20) (Semester 1)
    The module begins by clarifying the state of the analytic philosophy of religion at the turn of the 20th century, reflecting upon its inheritance of 19th century ‘modernity’. This is contrasted with some concurrent developments in the continental tradition (German Romanticism, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche). This is the context from which, and into which, Wittgenstein speaks. We will cover the early, middle, and late eras of Wittgenstein’s thought, and show the revolutionary impact that his thought had for the philosophy of religion. We track the various directions in which Wittgenstein’s influence was felt; for example, in A. J. Ayer’s verificationism, or those overtly ‘Wittgensteinian’ philosophers of religion such as D. Z. Phillips. The ‘meta-philosophy of religion’ is introduced throughout, as we tackle the question of how best to philosophise about religion.
  • VPR-1301: Introduction to Logic (20) (Semester 2)
  • VPC-1303: Cyflwyniad i Gristnogaeth (20) (Semester 1)
  • 20 credits may been taken in another School. For modules within College of Arts & Humanities, please attend module fair on Tuesday of Welcome Week. For other Schools see the On-line gazette for details.

Year 2 Modules

Optional Modules

120 credits from:

  • SXU-2002: Contemporary Social Debates (20) (Semester 1)
    There will be no set curriculum - rather this will emerge each time the module is taught depending on staff and student interests. The approach adopted will be to devote the first workshop to identifying themes and issues to be addressed, and to draw up the curriculum for that academic session in collaboration between staff and students. The workshop style of teaching and learning will allow emerging issues and contemporary debates to be addressed. Possible topics to be covered: Should drugs be legalised? Social control and the media Thinking critically about criminology Should there be a sociology of the environment? Exploring disaster capitalism Girls will be girls and boys will be boys – debunking the myth of gender. Exploring the relationship between inequality and capitalism Radicalisation, immigration, identity and racism. The Arab Spring Riots and civil liberties Thinking beyond the norm – the rationalization of ‘them’ and ‘us’
  • HPS-2008: Sociology of Religion (20) (Semester 2)
  • SXS-2035: Classical Social Theory (20) (Semester 1)
    The module introduces the classic contributions of Marx, Tocqueville, Tonnies, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel and the development of their thinking concerning modernity, capitalism, rationalisation and bureaucracy, and the question of moral and social order. The module then considers how the classic tradition has been transformed and new paths have been pursued in the contexts of Parsons' 'system theory', symbolic interactionism, critical theory and feminist social theory.
  • HTH-2163: Nazi Germany 1933-1945 (20) (Semester 1)
  • VPR-2202: Applied Ethics (20) (Semester 1)
    The module will begin with a brief outline of the various ethical challenges which face contemporary society. It will then consider the following issues: (a) world poverty (is it the responsibility of individuals or governments or both to alleviate world poverty?); (b) the arguments justifying an environmental ethic; ethical considerations to be considered in the case of voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia; the issue of abortion and the notion of reverence for human life; war and peace (the just war theory; ethics and nuclear weapons etc).
  • VPR-2203: Paradoxes of Self: Nietz./Jung (20) (Semester 1)
    We begin with a survey of how opposites have been construed within Western and Eastern philosophical traditions. Particular emphasis will be given to how they have been, and continue to be regarded as necessary postulates for making sense of the way we think and experience life, and also useful approaches for considering how we can enhance our lives and make them more meaningful. This introductory part of the module will recap some of the relevant themes studied in the Year One modules, ‘Existentialism’, and ‘Death of God’ (including metaphysics; truth; subjectivity; and freedom). Students will then identify these ideas within two contrasting models of opposites proposed by two iconic thinkers of twentieth-century philosophical and psychological thought: Friedrich Nietzsche and C.G. Jung. We shall explore their models side by side, drawing on their similarities and essential contrasts, and also drawing upon their key philosophical influences, whose ideas helped to shape their different models. (These include, Heraclitus, Aristotle and Plato, Schopenhauer, and Kant, and also Eastern philosophical traditions.) The implications of their different models of the nature and dynamics of opposites will be scrutinised in light of how they apply their theories to real life, and how they have different ideas about how oppositional thinking can be utilized and maximised in our own lives. To this end, students will explore their different ideas of the ideal human being who does just that: the Übermensch (or superman) of Nietzsche, and ‘the Self’ of Jung. The module will conclude with an analysis of the extent to which Nietzsche’s and Jung’s models of the union of opposites and their embodiment within their visions of an ideal human being can be regarded as viable, practical models for us to emulate. To this end, students will have the opportunity to see how Nietzsche and Jung themselves fare when compared to their own and each other’s ideal conceptions.
  • VPR-2219: Comp. Philosophy: East/West (20) (Semester 2)
    This module seeks to explore two distinct philosophical traditions: Eastern and Western. Framing the module in a comparative way enables students to identify key relationships and differences that relate to major philosophical themes. In particular, the module begins by defining the comparative philosophical approach, which will be used throughout the course as the means to study the East and the West. The vast majority of the module will be dedicated to examining different metaphysical and ethical concerns. The module will explore several key thematic notions: (1) Reason and Faith (ignorance, knowledge, causation, scepticism, revelation and divinity); (2) Reality (origins, existence, monism, dualism, pluralism and naturalism); (3) Virtue (tradition, divinity, rites, human nature and altruism); (4) Mind (enlightenment, emptiness, transcendence, introspection and immanence).
  • VPR-2300: Ancient Philosophy (20) (Semester 1)
    This module provides a broad overview of, and introduction to, ancient philosophy in the Western tradition. It will cover, mainly in chronological order, the entirety of the ‘ancient’ philosophical era, beginning with the pre-Socratics, moving through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and onwards to Stoicism, some key Roman philosophers, and Neo-Platonism. Emphasis will be put on the connections between ancient philosophy and later philosophical or religious developments, and on the influence that ancient philosophy has had on human thought generally. Historical narrative detail will be included where relevant (e.g., Socrates’ death, the Peloponnesian War, Aristotle and Alexander the Great, etc.) to provide context. Significant emphasis will be placed on the continued relevance that ancient philosophical schools can have for our modern lives, enabling us to overcome adversity and ‘live well’.
  • VPR-2301: 20th Century Phil of Religion (20) (Semester 2)
    The module begins by clarifying the state of the analytic philosophy of religion at the turn of the 20th century, reflecting upon its inheritance of 19th century ‘modernity’. This is contrasted with some concurrent developments in the continental tradition (German Romanticism, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche). This is the context from which, and into which, Wittgenstein speaks. We will cover the early, middle, and late eras of Wittgenstein’s thought, and show the revolutionary impact that his thought had for the philosophy of religion. We track the various directions in which Wittgenstein’s influence was felt; for example, in A. J. Ayer’s verificationism, or those overtly ‘Wittgensteinian’ philosophers of religion such as D. Z. Phillips. The ‘meta-philosophy of religion’ is introduced throughout, as we tackle the question of how best to philosophise about religion.
  • VPR-2302: Faith and Reason (20) (Semester 2)
    The module is composed of two parts, each looking at the interaction of ‘faith’ and ‘reason’. In the first part, I construct a narrative regarding the origins of our modern conception of ‘reason’, contrasting this with our conception of what it is to have ‘faith’. This narrative begins with Francis Bacon and (which is the more usual philosophical starting point) Descartes. I develop this through certain key thinkers of the modern period (Spinoza, Locke, Hume), concluding with the 19th century’s conception of ‘natural theology’. I press the case that a certain conception of ‘reason’ squeezed ‘faith’ out of the picture (along with a great deal of other meaningful dimensions of human life), prompting us to ask whether we must hold to the traditional conception of ‘reason’ at any cost. The second part of the module looks at contemporary examples of the interaction of ‘reason’ and ‘faith’, in the form of the interaction of science and religion. We consider examples of science being used to support religion (‘Intelligent Design’, the ‘Fine Tuning’ argument), and to debunk religion (evolution, the cognitive science of religion), and ask whether science and religion must necessarily be in conflict with each other. No prior philosophical or scientific knowledge is presumed. A brief introduction to quantum theory will be included.
  • VPR-2303: Immanuel Kant (20) (Semester 1)
    This module provides an introduction to the thought of Immanuel Kant. It covers his contributions to metaphysics and epistemology, by discussing his ‘transcendental idealism’. It covers Kant’s significant contributions to ethics, introducing the various formulations of his ‘categorical imperative’. It covers his contributions to the philosophy of religion, in particular his moral argument for belief in God. Throughout the module, I place Kant in the context of the history of philosophy, identifying those key aspects of philosophy to which Kant was responding (i.e., rationalism and empiricism), and those philosophers whose work was shaped by Kant’s legacy. Finally, we reflect on the place Kant’s thought holds in contemporary philosophy, particularly moral philosophy.
  • VPR-2305: Hinduism in the Modern World (20) (Semester 1)
  • VPC-2406: Crefydd yng Nghymru (20) (Semester 1)
  • VPC-2407: Yr Eglwys a'r Iddewon (20) (Semester 1)
  • VPR-2408: Religious Education (20) (Semester 2) or
    VPC-2408: Addysg Grefyddol (20) (Semester 2)

Year 3 Modules

Compulsory Modules

Semester 1

Semester 2

Optional Modules

80 credits from:

  • SXS-3003: Theorizing Society & Politics (20) (Semester 1)
    This module explores the origins, nature and significance of sociological theories and concepts developed in the 20th and 21st century. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of such approaches as critical theory (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse et al) structuralism and neo-structuralism (Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Bourdieu), and feminist standpoint theory. It considers a range of theories which seek to address knowledge, power and subordination in terms of gender divisions and differences of class, race or sexuality. The module seeks to ask questions about the relationship between social theory, social action, sociological research and everyday life. This in turn encourages students to reflect on their own position as participants in social interaction.
  • HPS-3008: Sociology of Religion (20) (Semester 2)
  • HTH-3163: Nazi Germany 1933-1945 (20) (Semester 1)
  • VPR-3205: Hinduism in the Modern World (20) (Semester 1)
  • VPR-3302: Applied Ethics (20) (Semester 1)
    The module will begin with a brief outline of the various ethical challenges which face contemporary society. It will then consider the following issues: (a) world poverty (is it the responsibility of individuals or governments or both to alleviate world poverty?); (b) the arguments justifying an environmental ethic; ethical considerations to be considered in the case of voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia; the issue of abortion the notion of reverence for human life; war and peace (the just war theory; ethics and nuclear weapons etc.)
  • VPR-3303: Paradoxes of Self: Nietz..Jung (20) (Semester 1)
    We begin with a survey of how opposites have been construed within Western and Eastern philosophical traditions. Particular emphasis will be given to how they have been, and continue to be regarded as necessary postulates for making sense of the way we think and experience life, and also useful approaches for considering how we can enhance our lives and make them more meaningful. This introductory part of the module will recap some of the relevant themes studied in the Year One modules, ‘Existentialism’, and ‘Death of God’ (including metaphysics; truth; subjectivity; and freedom). Students will then identify these ideas within two contrasting models of opposites proposed by two iconic thinkers of twentieth-century philosophical and psychological thought: Friedrich Nietzsche and C.G. Jung. We shall explore their models side by side, drawing on their similarities and essential contrasts, and also drawing upon their key philosophical influences, whose ideas helped to shape their different models. (These include, Heraclitus, Aristotle and Plato, Schopenhauer, and Kant, and also Eastern philosophical traditions.) The implications of their different models of the nature and dynamics of opposites will be scrutinised in light of how they apply their theories to real life, and how they have different ideas about how oppositional thinking can be utilized and maximised in our own lives. To this end, students will explore their different ideas of the ideal human being who does just that: the Übermensch (or superman) of Nietzsche, and ‘the Self’ of Jung. The module will conclude with an analysis of the extent to which Nietzsche’s and Jung’s models of the union of opposites and their embodiment within their visions of an ideal human being can be regarded as viable, practical models for us to emulate. To this end, students will have the opportunity to see how Nietzsche and Jung themselves fare when compared to their own and each other’s ideal conceptions.
  • VPR-3319: Comp. Philosophy: East/West (20) (Semester 2)
    This module seeks to explore two distinct philosophical traditions: Eastern and Western. Framing the module in a comparative way enables students to identify key relationships and differences that relate to major philosophical themes. In particular, the module begins by defining the comparative philosophical approach, which will be used throughout the course as the means to study the East and the West. The vast majority of the module will be dedicated to examining different metaphysical and ethical concerns. The module will explore several key thematic notions: (1) Reason and Faith (ignorance, knowledge, causation, scepticism, revelation and divinity); (2) Reality (origins, existence, monism, dualism, pluralism and naturalism); (3) Virtue (tradition, divinity, rites, human nature and altruism); (4) Mind (enlightenment, emptiness, transcendence, introspection and immanence).
  • VPR-3330: Ancient Philosophy (20) (Semester 1)
    This module provides a broad overview of, and introduction to, ancient philosophy in the Western tradition. It will cover, mainly in chronological order, the entirety of the ‘ancient’ philosophical era, beginning with the pre-Socratics, moving through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and onwards to Stoicism, some key Roman philosophers, and Neo-Platonism. Emphasis will be put on the connections between ancient philosophy and later philosophical or religious developments, and on the influence that ancient philosophy has had on human thought generally. Historical narrative detail will be included where relevant (e.g., Socrates’ death, the Peloponnesian War, Aristotle and Alexander the Great, etc.) to provide context. Significant emphasis will be placed on the continued relevance that ancient philosophical schools can have for our modern lives, enabling us to overcome adversity and ‘live well’.
  • VPR-3331: 20th Century Phil of Religion (20) (Semester 2)
    The module begins by clarifying the state of the analytic philosophy of religion at the turn of the 20th century, reflecting upon its inheritance of 19th century ‘modernity’. This is contrasted with some concurrent developments in the continental tradition (German Romanticism, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche). This is the context from which, and into which, Wittgenstein speaks. We will cover the early, middle, and late eras of Wittgenstein’s thought, and show the revolutionary impact that his thought had for the philosophy of religion. We track the various directions in which Wittgenstein’s influence was felt; for example, in A. J. Ayer’s verificationism, or those overtly ‘Wittgensteinian’ philosophers of religion such as D. Z. Phillips. The ‘meta-philosophy of religion’ is introduced throughout, as we tackle the question of how best to philosophise about religion.
  • VPR-3332: Faith and Reason (20) (Semester 2)
    The module is composed of two parts, each looking at the interaction of ‘faith’ and ‘reason’. In the first part, I construct a narrative regarding the origins of our modern conception of ‘reason’, contrasting this with our conception of what it is to have ‘faith’. This narrative begins with Francis Bacon and (which is the more usual philosophical starting point) Descartes. I develop this through certain key thinkers of the modern period (Spinoza, Locke, Hume), concluding with the 19th century’s conception of ‘natural theology’. I press the case that a certain conception of ‘reason’ squeezed ‘faith’ out of the picture (along with a great deal of other meaningful dimensions of human life), prompting us to ask whether we must hold to the traditional conception of ‘reason’ at any cost. The second part of the module looks at contemporary examples of the interaction of ‘reason’ and ‘faith’, in the form of the interaction of science and religion. We consider examples of science being used to support religion (‘Intelligent Design’, the ‘Fine Tuning’ argument), and to debunk religion (evolution, the cognitive science of religion), and ask whether science and religion must necessarily be in conflict with each other. No prior philosophical or scientific knowledge is presumed. A brief introduction to quantum theory will be included.
  • VPR-3333: Immanuel Kant (20) (Semester 1)
    This module provides an introduction to the thought of Immanuel Kant. It covers his contributions to metaphysics and epistemology, by discussing his ‘transcendental idealism’. It covers Kant’s significant contributions to ethics, introducing the various formulations of his ‘categorical imperative’. It covers his contributions to the philosophy of religion, in particular his moral argument for belief in God. Throughout the module, I place Kant in the context of the history of philosophy, identifying those key aspects of philosophy to which Kant was responding (i.e., rationalism and empiricism), and those philosophers whose work was shaped by Kant’s legacy. Finally, we reflect on the place Kant’s thought holds in contemporary philosophy, particularly moral philosophy.