Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module THMN45160: Dissertation

Department: Theology, Ministry and Mission

THMN45160: Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to V60707


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To produce a sustained piece of theological reflection on contemporary digital culture, digitally mediated Christianity, or similar.


  • The subject of the dissertation must be the subject of a written proposal and be formally agreed by the Course Director of the appropriate institution and the Board of Studies for the institution.
  • The subject of the dissertation should be related to the interface between digital culture/technology and Christian theology and practice.
  • A separate Handbook is provided on the practicalities of formulating a dissertation proposal and also for rulings about the relationship between the dissertation and other elements of the course.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Upon successful completion of the module the students should:
  • Demonstrate a depth and range of detailed knowledge in a specialised topic which is related to the interface between digital culture/technology and Christian theology and practice which is informed by research at the current limits of understanding.
  • Demonstrate conceptual understanding which enables the absorption and evaluation of a complex literature and body of research results. This will include the recognition of the apparent contradictions and ambiguities in the fields of practical theology and digital theology and the identification of areas in which further research is necessary.
  • The ability to integrate theology and digital theology with the practice of ministry which involves a developed, systematic and critical understanding of and ability to deploy a variety of methodologies in the discipline of practical theology. This includes critical use of a variety of disciplines, particularly human sciences to understand and describe a range of situations. It also requires the engagement in theological reflection.
  • A systematic understanding and in depth knowledge of theological and philosophical approaches to digital culture and technology including the practice of Christianity in an online context at the personal, ecclesial and societal levels. This also includes key aspects of Christianity on line and the role of digitality in personal identity and experience.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module the students should have developed:
  • Integration of different elements of learning which form part of the MA and key components in the fields of digital and practical theology including the capacity to critique existing theory and practice 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 fields of digital theology, practical theology, mission and ministry, and identify areas for further research and to contribute themselves (by pursuing their research to its conclusion) to debate at the current frontiers of knowledge, notably in the field of digital theology
  • Skills in identifying and utilising an appropriate methodology for the research topic.
  • A developed systematic and critical understanding of and capacity to deploy a variety of advanced methodologies in the disciplines of digital culture, theological reflection and associated disciplines in theology and ministry, particularly in the investigation of new problems.
  • The capacity to modify established techniques in theological reflection where appropriate and to develop, as required, innovative methods.
  • Skills in the use of specialist resources in the fields of digital culture, technology and theology in order to identify source material, compile bibliographies and inform research
Key Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
  • Make professional and academic judgements which may involve others and which recognise the limits of their own competence and the rights of informants, including the capacity to observe professional and academic codes of conduct and to confront ethical issues appropriately and with due respect.
  • Communicate research findings (in a clear and orderly way), that include complex information and detailed argument
  • Develop the skills of research, study and reflection required in a sustained piece of writing.
  • Deploy 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

  • A one day workshop on key skills in research, IT and presentation skills.
  • Normally four supervision sessions of one hour with a supervisor appointed by the Course Director.
  • 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
Staff-led Seminar/Workshop 5 1.5 hours 7.5
Supervisions 4 1 hour 4
Independent Study 288.5
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 15,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Dissertation Proposal: 1500 words, including: how the research question is to be pursued, an attempt to set this within the broader field of study and an account of the methodology to be adopted and a justification of its appropriateness, an identification of key texts and further reading.

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