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Unit information: Religion: Contexts and Perspectives in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Religion: Contexts and Perspectives
Unit code THRS20214
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Gethin
Open unit status Not open




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


Religious traditions are shaped by particular cultural contexts; they also express particular cultural perspectives; these contexts and perspectives change and develop with time and place. This raises questions about the intellectual assumptions we bring to the study of religious traditions. Building on the first-year introduction to the study of religious traditions East and West, this unit will examine particular aspects of two (or more) religious traditions, at least one Judeo-Christian and one Asian, with a view to deepening students’ understanding of the manner in which contexts and perspectives may be unique or shared. Students will take two parallel sets of weekly lectures and seminars taught by two different members of staff. These will focus on examining and discussing specific themes characteristic of each religious tradition. Although each side of the unit will have its unique content and explore tradition-specific questions, the parallel consideration of different religious milieus and bodies of material aims at stimulating students to think beyond the received category of “religion”.

Students will be given the opportunity to engage with the unit’s themes through an optional 1000-word formative exercise and to receive feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of a body of religious material through critical reading and engaged discussion;
  2. demonstrate methodological skills in the study of religion and theology;
  3. identify and critically evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a coherent argument in written form appropriate to level I/5;
  4. critically discuss the category of religion with reference to aspects of more than one religious tradition.

Teaching details

2 x one-hour lectures and 2 x one-hour seminars per week.

Assessment Details

1 x 2-hour exam (100%) [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

  • Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: an alternative history (OUP, 2010)
  • Donald Lopez (ed.), Religions of India in Practice (Princeton UP, 1995)
  • Gavin Flood (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Hinduism (2003)
  • Elizabeth Harris & Paul Hedges (ed.), Twenty-'First Century Theologies of Religions: Retrospection and Future Prospects (Brill/Rodopi, 2016)
  • John Hick & Brian Hebblethwaite, Christianity and Other Religions (Oneworld, 2001)
  • Gavin D’Costa, Christianity and World Religions (Blackwell, 2009)