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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PRHS3300 Religion and Mental Health

20 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Tasia Scrutton

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications


Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Because this module explores religion and mental health, we will cover issues throughout which are sensitive and could be potentially re-traumatising for some students. Examples of such topics are: in-depth discussion of specific mental health conditions, and religious accounts such as sin and demonic interpretations of mental health. If you are unsure whether this module is suitable for you, please contact the module leader for more details before choosing this module.How do different people, including people from various religious traditions make sense of the experiences mainstream western culture calls ‘mental disorder’ or ‘mental illness’? How do different interpretations of mental illness affect the experience of mental illness? For example, how might regarding depression as a result of sin, demon or jinn possession make the experience different from seeing it as a sign of holiness or closeness to God, as a purely biomedical condition, or as an opportunity for spiritual and religious transformation? Or how might regarding hearing voices as part of a calling to mediumship rather than psychosis affect the experience and its prognosis? And how might these interpretations affect the illness’ prognosis, and the range of treatments people will undertake? How might the interpretations religious communities give to people’s experiences of mental illness intersect with other aspects of people’s identities, such as gender and sexuality? Is it ok to be critical of certain interpretations of mental illness, and, if so, how should we evaluate them? And, on the other hand, what therapeutic resources do religion and spirituality offer? This module brings theology, philosophy and Religious Studies into debate with psychiatry, psychology, sociology and medical anthropology to discuss key questions relating to religion and mental health. It will be relevant to philosophers, theologians, Religious Studies scholars who wish to develop their expertise in relation to real-world concerns. It will also be relevant to prospective mental health professionals, responding to the fact that psychiatrists and psychologists often report feeling they have insufficient Religious Studies education to deal with their clients’ religious beliefs. Finally, it will be relevant to people thinking of becoming involved in pastoral work, such as religious ministry, who will often be the first port of call for people experiencing mental health problems, and who will seek to advise people wisely.


To familiarise students with various religious interpretations of mental illness, the impact these interpretations have on people's experiences, and the way they interesect with e.g. gender and sexuality and relate to broader socio-political issues.

To enable students to understand and critically appraise methodologies for analysing and/or evaluating religious interpretations and beliefs (philosophical, theological, clinical, sociological/socio-political, etc).

To facilitate awareness of and critical engagement with pastorally-and clinically-relevant therapeutic resources from religious traditions.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students will be able to:

1. Show an understanding of the way religious and other (including medical) interpretations of mental health and illness affect the quality (or phenomenology) of the experience of mental illness, the prognosis, and the range of treatments people will undertake.

2. Critically reflect on different ways of analysing, evaluating or critiquing different interpretations of mental illness (and
different religious and other beliefs more generally) – e.g. philosophical, theological, clinical, socio-political.

3. Demonstrate awareness of how different relevant disciplines (philosophy, theology, sociology, anthropology) might go about
analysing or engaging with religious beliefs.

4. Analyse religious interpretations of mental illness with respect to gender, sexuality, and wider socio-political issues (such as socio-economic ones)

5. Reflect on different (medical, religious and other) categories relating to healing and health (e.g. salvation, human flourishing,
wellbeing, mental health). Reflect on whose categories they are, what criteria they presuppose, and how they might relate to one another

6. Show familiarity with some of the potentially therapeutic resources religious traditions can offer – and theories about why
these might be therapeutic.

Skills outcomes
Ability to employ concepts and methods of argumentation specific to religious studies and philosophy


Representative topics may include: the relevance of interpretation to experience; theologies that view mental illness as a sign of sinfulness or lack of faith or demonic or jinn possession; psychological distress and the Dark Night of the Soul; the wounded healer and potentially transformative models of depression; passibilism and impassibilism;
God, Christ and the saints as fellow sufferers; holy fasters and anorexia; hearing voices and mediumship; biomedical and social models of mental illness in religious thought

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours178.00
Private study hours0.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparation for seminars
Preparation for essay

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be given the opportunity to discuss essay plans and drafts with me during my office hours throughout the module. They will also have the option of submitting a 1,000 word essay plan/draft.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 3,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:19:43


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