Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module THEO2401: Christ and the Human Mystery: Imaging God

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO2401: Christ and the Human Mystery: Imaging God

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop knowledge of central theological ideas introduced at level 1. In particular to build up conceptual and historical insight into the issues involved in the following doctrinal areas: the nature and identity of God with a particular focus on the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, and the theology of the human person.
  • To equip students with the critical interpretive skills and analytical tools needed to undertake a dissertation in the final year.
  • To strengthen students’ ability to reason coherently and with some sophistication about complex conceptual schemes, drawing insightfully on both classic formulations of these religious ideas as well as modern and contemporary contributions to the state of the question.


  • By focusing on a range of essential theological questions, including the doctrine of God, Christology and theological anthropology, the module develops an awareness of some of the essential questions and momentous debates that have shaped the history of Christian theology. This module immerses students in these fundamental issues, not only to deepen critical understanding of them but to engage them creatively as case studies in the constructive tasks and methods of theological reflection. Students investigate the theological visions that have resourced chief developments in belief, led to adaptations in theological imagination and language, and engendered the spiritual and theological quest of faith in search of understanding. In order to advance students’ own skills in theological interpretation, each unit within the module will explore both the landmark thinkers who have defined the discussion of each topic, as well as key modern and contemporary developments in each question. The module will focus on the particular themes listed above in thinkers such as Irenaeus of Lyon, Origen and Athanasius of Alexandria, the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine of Hippo, Dionysius, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Calvin, Schleiermacher, Newman, Kierkegaard, Barth, Rahner and Balthasar.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A detailed and coherent understanding of the following fundamental topics in the development of Christian theology: the doctrine of God, Christology; theological anthropology (with a particular emphasis on the theology of disability).
  • A detailed awareness of the intersection and mutual interaction of these teachings, and the range of approaches to each question that have been adopted by definitive thinkers. Students will also develop a reasonable sophistication in their awareness of the creative vision and interpretive insights at play in the tasks of theological reflection.
  • An awareness of how the key debates in these core areas of Christian doctrine influence contemporary belief and practice including the field of moral theology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to interpret and critically analyze the major approaches in Christian theology, and to evaluate the strengths and liabilities of each. This ability will be developed particularly with reference to the fundamental doctrines of God, Christ and the human person.
  • A self-reflective awareness of one’s own theoretical presuppositions regarding fundamental questions, and a capacity to work constructively with the tools and methods of theological reflection.
  • An ability to think theologically about a range of issues in historical and contemporary context including the nature of God, the identity and work of Christ and the nature and value of the human person.
Key Skills:
  • Skills in the acquisition of information through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of information in written analysis and argument.
  • The ability to analyse primary texts from a range of periods in Christian history both critically and sympathetically.
  • Capacity to analyze conceptual complexes and problems, making fine distinctions regarding the use of image, metaphor, logical argument, and other important rhetorical features in proposing large-scale theoretical claims.
  • The ability to work creatively with multiple traditions and cultural assumptions.

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 a clear understanding of the material and to improve their skills in interpreting and evaluating information.
  • Seminars enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding both through preparation and through interaction with students and staff, promoting awareness of different viewpoints and approaches, as well as affording developmental opportunities for skills in theological reflection. They enhance skills of primary text analysis.
  • Examinations assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in the structured presentation of information in written form under time constraints.
  • Summative essays assess subject-specific knowledge and understanding, along with student skills in the acquisition of information through reading and research, and in the structured presentation of information in written form.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 Weekly 1 Hour 22
Seminars 7 3 in MT; 3 in EpT; 1 in EasT (revision) 1 Hour 7
Preparation and Reading 171
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Essay 2000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
May/June exam period 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

2000 word coursework. Essay on a topic not to be covered in the summative essay. This is formative for both the research essay and the examination.

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