Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)


Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To familiarize students with key features of Thomas Aquinas’s thought and its context.
  • Through the work and influence of Aquinas, enable students to critically reflect on key theological issues, such as the relation between theology and philosophy, creation, salvation, the understanding of God and the human person, the Christian life of virtue.


  • This module will offer an in-depth exposition of key aspects of Aquinas’s theology, such as, for instance, how Aquinas conceives of Sacra Doctrina and its relation to philosophy; the divine attributes and the Trinitarian understanding of God; theory of analogy; creation; the human person as made in the image of God; the Christian life of virtue; salvation in Christ; the active and contemplative lives; sanctification). It will also consider the sources, influence and legacy of Aquinas’s theology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A systematic understanding of key aspects of the thought of Aquinas, through exposure to primary texts and engagement with relevant secondary literature.
  • A critical evaluation of the achievements and limitations of Aquinas’s thought in light of our contemporary theological concerns and issues.
  • A broader understanding of the development of Christian thought in the medieval period (and scholasticism in particular), and of the way that Aquinas’s thought is shaped by its historical context (including his Dominican calling and setting in the world of universities).
  • An insight into the influence of Aquinas’s thought on subsequent Christian thinking.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to read, interpret and evaluate critically the thought of Thomas Aquinas on the basis of primary and secondary sources.
Key Skills:
  • Development of analytical insight, the ability to engage critically with philosophical and theological arguments.
  • Ability to grasp, summarize, and critically evaluate concepts, arguments and knowledge in written form.

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

  • Seminar-style lectures so as to enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding through engagement with primary texts, promoting awareness of different approaches and hermeneutical perspectives, improving skills in the analysis of texts, concepts and arguments.
  • Summative essays assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding by engaging carefully with primary texts and secondary literature.
  • Formative presentation to enable students to summarize, evaluate, and present key topics from Aquinas’s thought.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture/Seminars 10 1 per fortnight 2 hours 20
Preparation and Reading 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (Epiphany term) 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will be asked to give an oral presentation of about 25 minutes.

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