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Unit information: Contemporary Ethics in 2016/17

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Unit name Contemporary Ethics
Unit code THRS10044
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. David Leech
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit students are introduced to several major contemporary rival ethical theories, religious and secular. The unit will focus on their differing treatments of ethical issues which are the subject of ongoing moral discussion. Through these students will develop an appreciation of the contended nature of contemporary ethical reflection and practice.


To provide an overview of the major contemporary ethical traditions.

To introduce students to a number of key issues in contemporary ethical thinking.

To develop critical interaction with primary and secondary materials.

To develop written presentation skills through the course assessment.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have

(1)developed a general knowledge of the history of philosophy of religion;

(2) acquired a basic understanding of current debates in the discipline, with respect both to theistic and non-theistic traditions;

(3) gained some familiarity with some central arguments in contemporary philosophy of religion and an ability to engage critically with them;

(4) developed skills in the researching, reading and presentation of complex material.

Teaching details

1 lecture + 1 seminar per week

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 1500 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 6 (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs (1) (2) (3). The coursework essay in particular will offer students the opportunity to demonstrate ILOs (4).

Reading and References

MacIntyre, Alasdair. A short history of ethics : a history of moral philosophy from the Homeric age to the twentieth century. London : Routledge, 2002.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the genealogy of morality: a polemic; translated, with notes, by Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen; introduction by Maudemarie Clark. Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Publishing, 1998.

The Cambridge companion to Christian ethics /edited by Robin Gill. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001.

MacIntyre, Alasdair: After virtue :a study in moral theory. 3rd ed. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

Singer, Peter, Practical ethics. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Taylor, Charles, Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.