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Module VPR-1300:
Intro to Philosophy of Religio

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Toby Betenson

Overall aims and purpose

The philosophy of religion, in its broadest sense, tackles questions relating to God, religion, and religious belief. Does God exist? What properties or attributes does God have? Is it rational to believe in God, and are there any good arguments for or against either theism or atheism? Is there such a thing as a soul, an afterlife, or personal immortality? This module will provide a general introduction to the contemporary philosophy of religion in the analytic tradition by covering some of the archetypal attempts to address these questions. We will look at the best (and worst) arguments for (or against) the existence of God. We will also reflect on some broader issues in the philosophy of religion, such as whether or not religious propositions can be considered ‘true’, whether there are viable alternative conceptions of God, and the nature and purpose of interreligious dialogue. Finally, we will consider the meaning of life.

Course content

The course attempts to introduce the philosophy of religion by examining some key examples within it, including the most commonly cited arguments for and against belief in God, the contributions of Wittgensteinian philosophers of religion, and discussions relating to conceptions of the divine and the divine attributes (e.g., various forms of theism, deism, pantheism, etc.). It will also cover other standard issues within the discipline such as questions relating to the existence of a soul, an afterlife or immortality, and the meaning of life.

Assessment Criteria


Shows some knowledge of key areas of the module with acceptable presentation of arguments.


Shows comprehensive and very detailed understanding of the material covered in the module, with considerable analytic ability or originality.


Shows detailed knowledge of key areas covered in the module with the arguments presented in a logical and coherent way.

Learning outcomes

  1. To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the major thinkers, themes, and arguments within contemporary philosophy of religion.

  2. To analyse, research, and construct a sustained argument applicable to the content of this course.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay 50
EXAM Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 22
Private study 178

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • 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.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • Articulacy in identifying underlying issues in a wide variety of debates.
  • Precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems.
  • Sensitivity in interpretation of religious and philosophical texts drawn from a variety of ages and/or traditions.
  • Clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts.
  • The ability to use and criticise specialised religious and philosophical terminology.
  • The ability to abstract and analyse arguments, and to identify flaws in them, such as false premises and invalid reasoning.
  • The ability to construct rationally persuasive arguments for or against specific religious and philosophical claims.
  • The ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing relevant and irrelevant considerations.
  • The ability to consider unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking, and to examine critically presuppositions and methods within the disciplines of philosophy and religion.


Courses including this module