Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module THEO1191: Introduction to Christian Theology

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO1191: Introduction to Christian Theology

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To equip students with a basic grasp of the history of Christian theology.
  • To provide students with a comprehensive map of the major figures, ideas and debates which function as a minimal context for intelligent work in Christian theology.
  • To introduce students into the method of thinking theologically, by habituating them in the thoughts of leading theologians.


  • The module provides a fundamental map of the major developments, thinkers and texts that have shaped Christian theology from the Apostolic Fathers through to the twentieth century. The module focuses on no more than eight representative primary texts, with two or three lectures and a seminar dedicated to each text. The lectures will place the text in its historical and philosophical context, and draw out the key critical themes and issues. The texts will be related to one another, with attention drawn to patterns of continuity or discontinuity, agreement and conflict. In this way, students will be trained to integrate conceptual and historical skills when reading classic theological texts. The module will be framed by a number of introductory and overview lectures, facilitating a synoptic view that will assist the in depth reading.
  • Below are some sample reading suggestions for each term, giving an idea of the sort of texts that might be appropriate (in some cases the work will not be read in its entirety, but in substantial selections). Three or four of these texts will be selected for each term, depending on staff availability in that year.
  • Michaelmas Term:
  • Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Oration
  • Augustine, Confessions
  • Cyril of Alexandria, On the Unity of Christ
  • Anselm, Proslogion
  • Bonaventure, Journey of the Mind to God
  • Thomas Aquinas, selections from the Summa Theologiae
  • Epiphany Term:
  • Luther, The Freedom of a Christian
  • Pascal, Pensees
  • Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone
  • Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith
  • Barth, selections from Church Dogmatics
  • Guttierez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation
  • Schussler-Fiorenza, In Memory of Her

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To provide a knowledge of the underlying concepts, doctrines and principles of Christian theology.
  • To provide a basic map of the history of Christian theology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Skills in the evaluation and interpretation of classic theological texts with historical sensitivity, and critical rigour.
  • An ability to identify the deep source of theology disagreements, and to understand what is at stake in a range or debates.
Key Skills:
  • Skills in the acquisition and interpretation of information through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of ideas in both written and oral form.
  • An ability to read complex and multivalent texts with intellectual nuance, and a sensitivity to context and genre.

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

  • Lectures convey information and exemplify an approach to the subject matter, enabling students to develop knowledge and a clear understanding of the subject, and to improve their skills in evaluating iformation.
  • Examinations access subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in the structured presentation of information in written form under time constraints

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 13 7 in MT, 6 in EpT 1.5 hours 19.5
Seminars 6 3 in MT, 3 in EpT 1.5 hours 9
Revision Class 1 Easter Term 1.5 hours 1.5
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written exam 2 hours 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Review of a single book from a prescribed list 1500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

EpT: one take-home exam in teaching week 15.

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