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Module VPR-2401:
God and Government

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Joshua Andrews

Overall aims and purpose

Throughout this module, students will be introduced to the dynamic relationship that exists between religion and politics on both a national and global scale. In particular, students will explore the distinct institutional patterns through which religion can influence contemporary political debate in the UK, focusing on historical examples such as the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion and contemporary issues such as same-sex marriage. Equally, students will analyse the way in which politics can affect religion, focusing on issues such as freedom of expression and education, in order to evaluate how the interaction between religion and politics affects contemporary society. The module will then examine the role of religion in party politics, assessing how specific political ideologies have been understood by different religious traditions, in particular, examining how the Church of England has historically responded to governmental decisions made during the Thatcher and Blair administrations. Students shall then address the impact of multiculturalism on British politics, analysing how the increase in the number of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs across the United Kingdom has altered the political demography of Great Britain. The course will finally examine the relationship between religion and politics on a global scale, examining the role of Islam and Judaism in Middle Eastern politics and also the rise of political Hinduism in India,

Course content

Students will study:

• The role of religion in establishing the British political system: Students will explore how changes in religious affiliation have changed the attitude of society as to who should possess political authority. In particular, we will examine how the growth of Protestantism gave rise to modern forms of democracy.

• The relationship between religion and Party Politics: Students will explore how the Thatcher and Blair admirations were influenced by the religious landscape of the UK. Analysing the criticisms that the Church of England made of Thatcher’s policies and then how Blair distanced himself from the established Church in an attempt to modernise the political structure of the United Kingdom.

• Religion and contemporary society: The module will evaluate how the interaction between religion and politics has influenced contemporary society with particular focus on laws relating to abortion, homosexuality and freedom of expression.

• Political ideologies and religion: Students will assess the relationship between religion and specific political ideologies, examining how the Church of England, Western Buddhism and specific Hindu movements have responded to conservativism, socialism and capitalism.

• Religion and global politics: Students will examine the political roles of the Jewish and Islamic traditions in the Middle East and the rise of political Hinduism in India.

Assessment Criteria


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.


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.


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.

C- to C+

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.

Learning outcomes

  1. Evaluate the political impact of religion in different historical periods and in different social or geographical settings.

  2. Demonstrate critical comprehension of the political, social and ethical expressions of Christianity and at least one other religion.

  3. Demonstrate awareness of and critical assessment of religious contributions to debate in the public arena concerning, for example, values, truth, law and identity.

  4. Apply different theological and philosophical concepts, theories and methods to the analysis of political ideas, actors, institutions and behaviour.

  5. Critically analyse a diversity of primary and secondary sources, including materials from theology and religious studies and where appropriate from related subjects such as political philosophy or social sciences.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Students will sit a two-hour examination. They will be required to complete two essay style questions from a choice of six.


Students will be required to complete one 3000 word essay. Students will be given a choice of six essay questions and will need to choose one of these as the basis for their assignment. All essay questions will link to the first four learning outcomes for this module.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


There will be a one-hour seminar held every week. Seminars will enable students to take an active role in their own learning by employing a range of student centred activities, which encourage them to develop a host of transferable skills while they critically engage with topics discussed in their previous lectures. In particular, students will be invited to analyse specific case studies to help them apply the theoretical knowledge discussed in their previous classes to contemporary political issues. Seminars will utilize both group and individual activities to ensure that students are able to develop both their independent learning skills, but also skills such as teamwork and effective communication.

Private study

Students will be given directed reading to complete each week, these readings will be linked to specific topics that will be discussed in their subsequent lectures and seminars. Students will also be required to undertake in detailed research in order to complete their written assignment, being encouraged to access a range of online publications and library resources. A selection of documentary films will be made available to them and it will be expected that students watch these during within a specified time frame.


There will be two hours of lectures each week.


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.


Reading list

Grace Davis, Religion in Britain, (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2015)

Paul Weller, Religious Diversity in the UK, (London: Continuum, 2008)

Linda Woodhead and Rececca Catto (eds),Religion and Change in Modern Britain, (Abingdon:Routledge, 2012)

Courses including this module