Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the principle theologians and trends associated with Ressourcement Theology (French, "return to the sources"), also known as la nouvelle theologie.
  • To critically engage the issues raised by the ressourcement theologians.
  • To enable students to apply this work to a number of contemporary issues ranging from modernity, liberalism, psychology, and art.


  • The astonishing influence of the French post-war ressourcement theology continues to be felt both inside and outside Catholicism, from the driving reforms of Vatican II, to the politically charged work of the Radical Orthodoxy movement. This module address the historical situation which gave rise to it, and introduces a number of the key theologians associated with it such as Maurice Blondel, Henri de Lubac, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar, and Karl Rahner.
  • Students will also be introduced to a number of key theological concerns addressed by these authors: is theology (and in particular that of Thomas Aquinas) an exercise in deductive reasoning from divinely revealed truths, or about faith and existential commitment? Where does the primacy of Catholicism lay, in its authority or its sacramental and spiritual ways? And what are the sources of theology? For example, what role, do patristic and medieval modes of figurative, typological and spiritual exegesis have alongside today's biblical historicism? Students will explore these issues, as they related to the political concerns of the day, as well as developing a theology that meets the challenges of our present age.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Historical awareness of ressourcement theology within the broader sweep of historical theology.
  • The characteristics of ressourcement theology; its key issues, and the individual theologians associated with it.
  • The theological adaptation of traditional sources for doing theology.
  • Both the critical challenges ressourcement theology offers the present age, as well as the criticism made of it.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to critically engage a number of Catholic theologians.
  • An ability to identify the relations between these theologians and their sources.
  • The ability to evaluate the significance of their work in the light of each other as well as wider concerns.
  • The ability to apply their thought to a range of issues in biblical, theological, or religious studies.
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop their communicative skills; their process of reasoning through verbal and written means; ability to construct sophisticated arguments supported by the sources, in a clear, concise and convincing manner; be able to critically engage texts and interact with the ideas and arguments of others.
  • Students will develop advanced research skills, including the ability to locate, evaluate, and summarise key sources, both in print and online, and to employ recognised standards of annotation.
  • By engaging historical sources and contemporary issues, students develop inter-disciplinary skills.

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

  • Lectures provide students with a historical and theoretical framework to understand the material discussed, providing an overview and point of departure for work, introducing subject specific knowledge and demonstration of subject specific skills.
  • Seminars provide students an opportunity to discuss subjects and issues, present their work in dialogue with students and staff, and evaluate these results promoting the development of subject specific skills and key skills.
  • Tutorials give students the opportunity to present and discuss plans of work, receive feedback on formative work, and one to one learning, developing subject specific skills and key skills.
  • Formative Essays develop subject-specific knowledge and understanding, and the skills of written presentation, which are formally assessed in a summative essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 1 per term 2 4
Tutorials 4 2 per term 1 4
Seminars 8 4 per term 2 16
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