Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop an advanced understanding of the interconnections between religion and global processes, and how relevant actors respond institutionally to them or are prompted to engage in socio-cultural dialogue;
  • To provide students with an opportunity to apply a selection of key theories of religion and globalisation to the analysis of a contemporary debate and to reflect critically on the process of application;
  • To engage students in critical reflection on academic and activist discourses and on the extent to which the public presence of religions in the contemporary world can contribute globally to promote justice and foster pluralistic forms of being together;
  • To provide a basis for more specialised exploration in the optional modules of the core concepts and issues on which the programme is based.


  • The module will focus on the interconnections between faith/religion and globalisation. It will explore the ways in which these interconnections can be divisive and cohesive for all identities involved, whether religious or non-religious. The module will analyse the relational dimension of constitution and transformation of those identities. It will also address the implications that relational and contingent identity formation has for an understanding of increasing social complexity and plurality, and their conflictive and dialogical outcomes.
  • How do religions respond to globalisation? How do religious and non-religious actors relate to each other in global arenas or around global issues? How do faith and non-faith traditions, values, practices and organisational resources face up to global challenges? What impact can these public religious responses have on the course globalisation? How have global trends reshaped religious thinking and practice? These are some of the questions that will be explored throughout the discussions and reflections of this module.
  • The debate will be informed by a polycentric, comparative approach to globalisation that will look into regions, issues or religions as unities of analysis. The European context, in particular, will be set against the background of non-European ones, such as Latin America, Africa, or the Islamic world. This will be done in an interdisciplinary way, through contributions from fields such as the social sciences, cultural studies, theology and religious studies. Empirical, conceptual, interpretive and normative issues will be analysed and evaluated, thus giving students a broad but informed entry point to this complex debate. • The underlying approach to religion adopted acknowledges that faith can be lived in experiential and/or intellectual ways, which can correspondingly take on religious and non-religious, diffuse and organised, formats. Institutionalised expressions of religion should then be considered alongside less bounded forms of faith and belief. Thus, both terms “faith” and “religion” are used here to convey these shades of meaning, but also to draw attention to their common interchangeability in learned and everyday discourses. The core module will focus on the institutional expressions of religion, while considering some relevant aspects of personal trust associated with faith.
  • The module will be organized in four sections, which will focus respectively on:
  • a) Some key theories of the relation between faith/religion and globalization;
  • b) The dynamics of convergence and conflict, exploring how religion operates as a global force but is also entangled in global processes;
  • c) Religious presence in the public realm in order to articulate demands or address global issues and their local repercussions;
  • d) How the classical connection of religion to culture and identity has increasingly been reinscribed in the discourse of “diversity” in contemporary societies, in tension with representations of faith/religion as prone to intolerance or violence.
  • Textual analysis of activist discourses will provide opportunity for applying the comparative perspective as a reading strategy, and the use of portfolio as a learning and assessment tool will entail a combination of taught, self-guided and collaborative study. • Group reflection and discussion on the main contributions of the module in view of the various specialised routes to be taken by students will be conducted in a final seminar.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • To identify and explain, demonstrating interdisciplinary awareness, key approaches to faith/religion and globalisation in the contemporary world;
  • To explain the double dynamics of convergence and conflict which relates faith/religion and globalisation, and the public expressions of religious responses to that dynamics;
  • To relate the theoretical and interpretive contributions of current research to specific debates or cases of engagement between faith/religious traditions and global processes/issues, and reflect critically on them.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • To identify, analyse and evaluate different academic approaches to globalisation and religion;
  • To appraise the importance of socio-cultural and historical context to understanding the various forms in which religion and globalisation may relate;
  • To apply some of the studied approaches to the analysis of a contemporary debate and to reflect critically on the process of application;
  • To formulate complex arguments through various written genres to high standards of academic practice.
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • To demonstrate an independent approach to learning, thinking (self-)critically and creatively, and problem-solving;
  • To use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management using an array of print and digital resources;
  • To participate in and reflect on collaborative group work;
  • To communicate orally in an effective way, using a range of media supports;
  • To compose and present written work to high editorial standards.

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

  • The module will be introduced by a presentation of its structure and contents, followed by an introductory lecture. The subsequent sessions will be fortnightly seminars or required tutorials. Readings, (pre- or post-seminar) notes, and formative comments will be available through DUO. The final seminar will prompt students to reflect on and discuss how the various addressed topics of the module may apply to their planned optional modular choices and dissertation topics.
  • Summative assessment will include an essay on theoretical approaches to the theme demonstrating awareness of interdisciplinary conceptual or methodological issues, and a showcase portfolio produced as a result of taught inputs, self-guided learning and team work, on a contemporary debate or case. The case or debate will need to address a public issue of global nature or repercussion, involving at least one faith/religious tradition and one non-religious social or political actor. The portfolio must show evidence of the interrelation of religion and global processes and of critical reflection on the process of application. It must include considerations of socio-cultural and/or historical context as appropriate. The portfolio will consist in six entries reflecting the student’s best work, including a 2,500-word research paper on the debate or case studied (in addition to the above-mentioned essay, which accounts for one half of the overall assessment); a sample of an oral presentation; a piece drawn from research into the chosen debate or case (such as graphic illustration of data; annotated bibliographies; reading notes; communication with scholars and/or practitioners; description of procedures for data collection or analysis; research diary notes); classroom team work assignments; reflections on the process of application; and self-assessments. Students will be responsible for the selection of their entries. Guidelines for preparing and evaluating entries and structuring the portfolio will be made available at the beginning of the module, and posted on DUO.
  • Formative assessment is intended to develop students' oral communication and academic writing skills, as well as effective time management. Students will be required to submit, for formative purposes, at the end of the Michaelmas term, an outline and sample 1,000-word piece of writing relating to any of the summative assignments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 1 2 hours 2
Seminars 10 fortnightly 2 hours 20
Tutorials 4 as required 1 hour 4
Preparation and reading 274
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay, at the end of Michaelmas term 2500 words 100%
Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio 6 entries 100%

Formative Assessment:

Seminar oral presentation; feedback on an outline and sample 1000-word piece of writing relating to any of the summative assignments.

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