Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module PHIL2071: SCIENCE & RELIGION, 1780-1914

Department: Philosophy

PHIL2071: SCIENCE & RELIGION, 1780-1914

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • At least one module from the following: Ethics and Values (PHIL1011), Knowledge and Reality (PHIL1021), Reading Philosophy (PHIL1041), History and Theory of Medicine (PHIL1051), Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science (PHIL1081).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To investigate the subtle and complex historical interactions of science and religion (organised and personal) and their dependence upon individuals and circumstances.


  • The metaphysical commitments of scientific, philosophical and religious communities
  • The historical and cultural relevance of natural theology and the philosophy of religion
  • The institutionalisation of science and its impact on religious and secular conceptions of matter, evolution, cosmology and human origins.
  • The interaction between philosophies of science and personal beliefs
  • The different forms of print and visual culture used to convey scientific information.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have knowledge and understanding of:
  • the different methods (philosophical, sociological, theological, etc) used to approach the interaction between science and religion.
  • the contextual, biographical and cultural factors that shaped intellectual arguments and evidentiary claims during the long nineteenth-century.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • grasp, analyse, evaluate and deploy subject-specific concepts and arguments
  • locate, understand, assess and utilise pertinent philosophical (and, where appropriate, historical) sources
  • interpret and criticise relevant texts.
Key Skills:
  • express themselves clearly and succinctly in writing
  • comprehend complex ideas, propositions and theories
  • defend their opinions by reasoned argument
  • seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information
  • tackle problems in a clear-sighted and logical fashion.

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

  • Lectures deliver the content of the module via the use of illustrations (powerpoint), handouts, discussion diagrams and terms written on the blackboard.
  • Discussion groups explore a set question and sources relevant to the module's aims and content. Each one begins with a brief presentation in which a student orally offers an answer to the set question. Once this is done, the other students are asked to respond to the presentation based on set sources they have read in advance of the meeting.
  • Informal appointments made by the students with the lecturer allow them to discuss their essays in advance of writing them.
  • The essays allow the students to test their research and composition skills. Here they are given a set historical source and they are then invited to answer a question relevant to the aims of the module. This approach provides the opportunity for them to test their understanding and knowledge of the module content, and their ability to present and critically evaluate relevant arguments and interpretations, uninhibited by the demands of summative assessment.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Discussion groups 9 fortnightly 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 3000 words 50%
Essay 2 3000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

One 2000 word essay submitted in Michaelmas

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