Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2008/09 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the broad cultural landscape of Britain during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
  • To explore ways in which religion- both traditional religious groups and alternative religious movements- have interacted with this environment, drawing from historical, sociological and theological sources.
  • To reflect on how religion might develop in Britain in the future and how it might have a role to play in the construction of British identity, given past histories and present concerns.


  • This module explores the contours of religious movement in contemporary Britain, working from the Second World War onwards. Focusing on how religious phenomena are shaped by changing cultural contexts, we will address the state of British society in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, before examining how this context shapes the development of religious traditions movements and practices. Traditional world religions, such as Christianity and Islam, and more marginal developments such as the New Age, will be examined in relation to topics such as national identity, multiculturalism and the power of mass media.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students should be able to: Demonstrate a clear understanding of the major issues facing traditional and alternative religious groups in the contemporary British context.
  • Engage in a critical use of select theological, historical, and sociological sources in making sense of how religious movements interact with the British cultural context.
  • Compare and evaluate different scholarly attempts to explain or interpret the state of religious phenomena in contemporary Britain and build on the process in formulating their own arguments.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • Throughout the module, lectures will provide an opportunity for the module leader to impart to the students key theories and an outline of the major issues and questions surrounding the state of religion in contemporary Britain (objective 1). Seminar sessions will provide an opportunity for the module leader to clarify issues of knowledge in response to student questions, and will also allow opportunities for students to explore key texts and sources (objective 2), and apply and develop theory skills in argumentation and debate (objective 3). Occasional tutorials with individual students will provide a context in which detailed feedback on summative assessment can be given.
      • Students will submit two summative essays. Both will be expected to draw from key sources (objective 2) and demonstrate a capacity for independent thinking through coherent argumentation (objective 3). Written exam questions will demand a sound understanding of the themes and issues covered within the module (objective 1) as well as an ability to argue for a particular position drawing from relevant material (objectives 2 and 3).

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 22 One in weeks 1-3; 5; 7-8; 10-11; 13-19; 21 1 hour 22
      Tutorials 1 As required 1 hour 1
      Seminars 5 Once in weeks 4, 6, 9, 12, 20 1 hour 5
      Preparation and Reading 172
      Total 200

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Examination Component Weighting: 75%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      examination 3 hours 100%
      Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 25%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      essay relating to the topics addressed in parts one and two 3000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      One 2000 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