Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module THEO56730: Ritual, Symbolism and Belief in the Anthropology of Religion

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO56730: Ritual, Symbolism and Belief in the Anthropology of Religion

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


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.



  • This module takes the form of an exploratory conversation between theology and social anthropology on certain key issues of religious belief and practice.
  • Theological ideas concerning human nature, creativity and worship, for example, are related to anthropological theories concerning self, society, symbol and ritual, and the fundamental anthropological phenomenon of 'merit making', framed by social rules and reciprocity as a mode of human relationship, is discussed in relation to theological ideas of grace. Similarly, anthropological theories of embodiment, death and sacrifice are explored in relation to theological reflection on incarnation and salvation. Many epistemological and methodological questions are raised throughout this engagement of theological and anthropological themes, as are questions about the contextualising and decontextualising of religious belief, the relationship between systematic theology and the practical theology of church members, and the possibility and the nature of a practical or empirical theology which uses information derived from social scientific research. Particular attention will be paid to selected studies of Christian groups as a means of discussing these issues.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Preparation and Reading
      Total 300

      Summative Assessment

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

      Formative Assessment:

      One 5000 word essay

      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