Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module THMN45030: Digital Theology: Theological Reflection on Digital Culture

Department: Theology, Ministry and Mission

THMN45030: Digital Theology: Theological Reflection on Digital Culture

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To enable students to reflect critically on the theological implications of digitality, focussing especially on theological anthropology, theological ethics, and philosophical accounts of technology and digital culture.
  • To provide students with an in depth understanding of relevant theological and philosophical voices on technology and digital culture.
  • To enable students to critically evaluate theological reflection on digitality, offering a critique of current theological practice and publication.
  • To enable students to reflect theologically on their personal experience of digital culture and that of their local church/community, and to relate this experience to the learning from the module.


  • The module will:
  • Trace the development of theological thinking concerning technology and digitality thinking from key historical philosophers and theologians, as well as from popular contemporary explorations.
  • Consider the implications of this for the contemporary Church at all levels.
  • Examine the ethical, political and anthropological questions raised by new technologies.
  • Explore different methods of critically evaluating contemporary theological exploration of digitality.
  • Below is an indicative summary of topics which may be included:
  • From Heidegger to Deleuze – a theological perspective
  • Bennett’s Aquinas on the Web, Conversatio and Digital Theology
  • De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life and digitality
  • Chardin’s ‘Noosphere’ to Hipps’ Flickering Pixels
  • Latour, ANT and Cult of the Factish Gods
  • Detweiler, Byers, Shneckcloth: iGods, Theomedia and Mediation
  • Baym and Papacharissi: The Networked Self
  • Stiegler, Derrida, Waters: From Epimetheus to the Posthuman
  • Being Human: Biblical, Theological, Biological and Digital Anthropology
  • Being Human: Case Studies from the Movies
  • Being Human: From Angels to Cyborgs
  • Being Human: A Fluid Approach to Human Identity?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Upon successful completion of the module the students should have
  • A depth and range of knowledge across one or more specialised areas of theology and ministry, which relate to digital theology based on a wide ranging, critical study of the relevant literature and which may be informed by research at the current limits of understanding.
  • A conceptual understanding which enables the absorption and evaluation of a complex literature and body of research results in the field of digital theology. This will include the recognition of the apparent contradictions and ambiguities in the fields of both practical theology and digital theology and the identification of areas in which further research is necessary.
  • A systematic understanding and depth of knowledge of theological and philosophical approaches to digital culture and technology including the practice of Christianity in an online context at personal, ecclesial and societal levels.
  • A systematic and in depth knowledge of the key methods in offering digitally cogent responses to major themes with systematic and practical theology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module the students should have:
  • The capacity to critique existing theory and practice in digital theology and plan for the appropriate, wise and imaginative development of mission and ministry in complex and unpredictable contexts, in church and society.
  • The capacity to evaluate and synthesise research findings in the field of digital theology, practical theology, mission and ministry and identify areas for further research.
  • The ability to reflect critically on the role of technology in the contemporary world and the theological questions raised by digitality. This will include both a comprehensive and critical account of various approaches to the practice of Christianity in an online context at the personal, ecclesial and societal levels.
  • The ability to reflect critically in a sophisticated, critical and rigorous manner on some key theological questions raised by the emergence of digitality.
Key Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module, students should have:
  • Acquired and synthesised information through reading and research and presented it clearly and effectively in written format.
  • Developed research based skills.
  • Effectively communicated orally complex theological and ethical ideas, the evaluation of practice in a clear, concise and engaging manner.
  • Deployed effective autonomous study, time and personal management skills and also work collaboratively with staff colleagues and peers.

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

  • Lectures provide content, a conceptual framework and a survey of approaches within Digital Theology that enable students to locate their learning in a wider context, to make connections with other disciplines, and to evaluate and apply their learning to different contexts.
  • Seminars offer students an opportunity to present, evaluate and apply their knowledge to specific reading contexts, and to engage with teaching staff and peers in debate and reflection.
  • Guided reading in conjunction with lectures and seminars encourages independent learning and underpins the knowledge and understanding gained in lectures and seminars.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1.5 hours 15
Seminars 10 1.5 hours 15
Independent Preparation & Reading (weekly) 15 6 hours 90
Independent Work on Assessments 1 annual 180 hours 180
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Critical Evaluation or Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Critical Evaluation or Essay 6,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students submit a 1,000 word proposal of the digital resource which includes a first draft of the resource. During the second teaching block, students will give a 20 minute presentation of the digital resource and will receive peer and staff feedback.

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