Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module THEO40430: The Public Understanding of Science and Religion

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO40430: The Public Understanding of Science and Religion

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • To introduce students to the way that the dialogue between science and religion is represented, enriched and diminished in the media, education and public discourse.
  • To explore through a series of substantive topics and case studies representing the public understanding of the dialogue of science and religion, the nature of science and its relationship to religious thought in the public sphere.
  • To engage critically with a number of key popular movements, authors, films and television programmes alongside key texts concerning the nature of science, religion, education and the media.
  • To equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to undertake doctoral work in this area.

Content

  • This module explores the new and important area of the dialogue of science and religion in the public arena. The last 30 years have seen an extraordinary growth in texts and courses looking at the relationship between science and religion, with Christian theologians, historians, social scientists, philosophers and 'scientist-theologians' making major contributions. More recently, a new movement in theology has begun to engage with pop culture, studying the nature of the media and assessing how religious questions are presented in genres such as film and television.
  • This module brings these two movements together in order to explore how the dialogue of science and religion is presented, enriched or diminished in the media and in education. A foundation of understanding is first built in the nature of science and religion, and second in the nature of media communication. Case studies will look at Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and the Intelligent Design movement, not only to see how they deal with the dialogue of science and religion but also how this is presented in different forms of media. The important context of education presents both challenges and opportunities for science and religion, which can be illustrated through a study of recent controversy over creationism in schools.
  • The public understanding of the success and failures of science and technology raises key questions for scientific advances and in particular our care for the environment. These issues are not always worked out in logical argument but are presented in the narratives of science fiction, from The Matrix to Star Wars. The module critiques the use of such narratives as models of good communication of both science and religion.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights in the area of research into the dialogue of science and religion, the public perception of the relationship between science and religion, and the history of current public debate concerning science and religion.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Informed critical engagement with contemporary presentations of science and religion in a variety of public contexts.
Key Skills:
  • advanced research skills, including the ability to locate, evaluate, and summarise key sources, both in print and online, and to cite them to a professional standard
  • advanced communication skills, including the ability to construct a sophisticated argument, supported by the sources, in a clear, concise and convincing manner

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This web-based module offers interaction with students and staff through message board based discussion forums and real time chat in order to promote awareness of different viewpoints and approaches.
  • Specific reading material posted on DUO through documents and external links, supplementing the set reading, provides the stimulus for discussion and learning.
  • Student led seminars enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding both through preparation and presentation.
  • On line tutorials provide feedback on student work and the opportunity to discuss specific issues in detail, enhancing student knowledge and key skills.
  • Formative essays develop subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in the acquisition of information through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of information in written form.
  • Summative essays assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in the acquisition of information through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of information in written form.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
On line tutorials 4 as required 1 hour 4
On line class discussion 18 weekly 1 hour 18
Seminars 5 as required 1 hour 5
Preparation & Reading 273
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of 5000 words.


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University