Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module THEO3721: The Globalisation of Christianity

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO3721: The Globalisation of Christianity

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • To engage students in an informed and critical manner with the history of the expansion of western Christianity around the globe from the fifteenth century to the present day.
  • To enable students to analyse and critique key historical debates about the expansion of Christianity, its causes and its consequences, and to assess the interaction between religious, political and social change.
  • To build on students’ prior knowledge of the history of Christianity.
  • To equip students to write concisely, effectively and pointedly in analysing primary sources and in debating contentious issues.


  • This module examines the processes by which Latin Christendom spread from being an exclusively western European religion in the fifteenth century to being a global one today, and assesses how this came about, its effects, and why this expansion took the course it did. In order to make the subject navigable, the module is divided into six study units. 1: Catholic mission in the age of empire. 2: The beginnings of Protestant mission in the 17th and 18th centuries. 3: Slavery, the slave trade, mission and abolition. 4: Christianity in Africa during the imperial age. 5: Christianity in China from the 19th to the 21st century. 6: The global impact of Pentecostalism and renewalist religion.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the key events, actors, ideas, disputes and contexts for the global expansion of Christianity, and of the key academic debates about this process, its causes and its consequences.
  • In-depth knowledge of a series of selected key primary texts and of their contexts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Advanced skills in the handling of primary texts and secondary sources, with an in-depth appreciation of the associated problems.
  • Advanced skills in the application of historical methods.
Key Skills:
  • Skills in structuring and presenting evidence-based arguments in concise form, both orally and in writing.
  • Skills in analysis and concise, contextualised comment on selected texts.
  • Skills in independent researching, thinking and working.

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

  • Each of the six study units comprises three whole-class ‘lectures’, timetabled for two hours each. The first begins with a traditional lecture providing an overview of key aspects of the subject and exemplifying approaches to the topic, followed by a student-led question-and-answer session in which students may explore issues arising from the lecture or other aspects of the module which are of concern to them. The second is a whole-class workshop on the primary sources set for the study unit, structured in response to specific extracts which students will nominate for discussion, which deepens subject-specific knowledge while also modelling and training in analysis of texts. . The third is a whole-class essay workshop built around assessed presentations, in which each student’s presentation is subject to questioning and constructive critique by students and staff. This also extends subject knowledge while providing intensive training in skills of presentation and argument.
  • Formative assessment: at the end of each teaching term, all students hand in a portfolio consisting of (1) a 250-word comment on a set extract from one of the set texts studied in that unit and (2) either one or two 1000-word essays formatted as exam answers. These exercises will train students in formulating concise arguments and in applying their knowledge to specific questions in a focused manner. (Students submit one essay in the term they make their assessed presentation; two in the other term.)
  • Summative assessment: summative oral presentations develop 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 oral form. The examination assesses students’ knowledge and understanding, their ability to handle texts and sources historically, and their ability to formulate effective arguments drawing on their wider reading.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 1 per week (with breaks), MT weeks 1-6, 8-10, EpT weeks 1-6, 8-10, ET week 1 (revision class) 2 hours 38
Preparation and Reading 162
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 10 minutes + 10 minutes Q&A 100%
Component: Final Examination Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Three short, examination-style essays. Two ‘gobbet’ answers

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