Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module THEO3731: Theology, Nature, Environment

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO3731: Theology, Nature, Environment

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To broaden and deepen students’ understanding of the scope and tasks of Christian theology by means of an in-depth study of 'nature’ in theological perspective.
  • To develop a historical perspective on the way in which nature has been framed in the Western tradition.
  • To explore contemporary normative theological discussion about issues in ecology and environment.
  • To consider ways in which ecological and environmental discourse may be susceptible to specifically theological analysis.
  • To introduce students to the way in which theological perspectives may impact upon contemporary social and political discussion about environmental change and environmental responsibility
  • To build on students’ prior knowledge of Christian ethics, doctrine and historical theology acquired at levels 1 and 2


  • The module typically covers:
  • The relationship between ‘theology’ and ‘ecology’ as disciplines;
  • The history of ‘nature’ in the Western tradition;
  • Theological analysis of contemporary environmental and ecological debates;
  • Theological ethics of the environment and nonhuman life;
  • The relationship between nature and 'the sacred';
  • The place of human beings in the natural world;
  • The so-called 'wilderness debates' and 'the end of nature'.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of contemporary debates in theology about environment and ecology;
  • Knowledge of contemporary debates about environmental change and environmental responsibility and their theological implications;
  • Knowledge of how Christian traditions frame the natural world;
  • Knowledge of how theology relates to ecology as an instance of the theology-science interface.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Theological analysis and assessment of contemporary discourses in politics, science and ethics around nature and environment;
  • Critical reading of key texts and sources.
Key Skills:
  • Skills in the acquisition of information through reading and research;
  • Skills in structured presentation of information in written form;
  • Skills in group discussion and debate;
  • Skills in oral presentation.

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

  • Lectures convey knowledge in a structured way and exemplify an approach to the subject-matter, enabling students to develop a clear understanding of the subject and to improve their skills in listening, processing and recording information
  • Seminars enhance subject-specific knowledge and understanding both through preparation and through interaction with one another and with staff, promoting awareness of different viewpoints and approaches and developing skills of group discussion and debate
  • Written essays 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 written form
  • Oral presentation develops verbal communication and presentation skills

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Combined Lectures and Seminars 20 10 in Michaelmas Term and 10 in Epiphany Term 2 hours 40
Preparation 160
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Seminar Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar Presentation 20 minutes 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

2000 word essay

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