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Module VPR-2217:

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Farhaan Wali

Overall aims and purpose

The threat posed by religious fundamentalism has become a major issue effecting global peace and security. Students will be introduced to the broad frame of religious fundamentalism, its history, ramifications and impact on relations between peoples and societies. It will specifically look into the different models of responses that different religious traditions have taken to face up to the challenges of fundamentalism. The historical contexts of fundamentalism will also be examined. The course will review issues relating to fundamentalism and its foundations in different religious traditions. Thus, students will be introduced not only to the theory of religious fundamentalism, but also to case studies of religious fundamentalism.

Course content

Today people across the world are struggling to counteract the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, creating a growing interest around this phenomenon. With this in mind, the module will examine: (1) the nature of fundamentalism, detailing its historical background and manifestation in Islam, Christianity, and other world religions; (2) the relationship with scripture will be examined; and (3) The module will explore a variety of vivid case studies – from the Wahhabis in the Islamic world, the Christian coalition of the United States, to the Hindu nationalists of India - in order to provide a much-needed window into fundamentalism. These case studies will provide insight into the various social structures, cultural contexts and political environments in which fundamentalist movements have emerged around the world.

Assessment Criteria


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 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. Analyse theories that underpin the theory of fundamentalism and opposing theories to it

  2. Understand the dimensions of fundamentalism and its relationship with religious scripture and practice

  3. Be familiar with the debates on fundamentalism

  4. Identify the concepts of religious fundamentalism, the relationship with the individual and society; and to provide a framework for discussion of the main problems and issues in the modern world

  5. Present sound written and oral argument of source material

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

1 hour lectures x 11 weeks

Lecture 24

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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

Optional in courses: