Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to introduce and use gender theory - especially in the work of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler - for understanding how Christianity imagines bodies - their sex and gender - in relationship to one another and to God
  • to explore the complex relations between Christian understanding of the sexed body and prevailing cultural and intellectual understanding of the body.


  • Introduction to the ideas of sex and gender and their distinction; introduction to the modern making of sex (Thomas Laqueur); introduction to the modern making of homo and heterosexuality (Michel Foucault); introduction to previous sexual identities (Mark Jordan, Bernadette Brooten); introduction to performativity (Judith Butler); study of the history of Christian desire in relation to God (from medieval use of the Song of Songs to Hans Urs von Balthasar); study of the change from early Christian celibacy to the modern Christian ideology of marriage).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • knowledge of gender theory (constructivist and performative)
  • understanding of Christian constructions of the sexed body and its desires and of Christian symbolics with regard to the desiring body as a site for spiritual meaning and encounter
  • knowledge of the sexing and gendering of God in Christian theology and devotion
  • understanding of the role of Christian theology in the invention of 'homosexuality' and 'heterosexuality'
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the ability to use gender theory for understanding Christian constructions of the body
  • the ability to analyze gender ideologies in theological discourses
  • the ability to synthesize gender theory and theology
  • the ability to analyze and construct theological arguments
Key Skills:
  • advanced research skills, including the ability to locate, summarise and reference 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

  • Seminar classes allow the module leader to provide an overview of the subject, across the module and for particular classes, offering guidance on the readings that form the basis for discussion. But they also allow for that discussion in which students can engage directly with the material and with one another. Subject specific knowledge and key skills will be fostered through this interaction.
  • Formative essays develop subject-specific knowledge and understanding, and the skills of written presentation. These skills and the knowledge and understanding they serve are assessed in the summative essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 12 fortnightly 2 hours 24
Preparation and Reading 276
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