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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

THEO3280 Religion, Politics and the Future

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Stefan Skrimshire

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module looks at the relationship between religious beliefs and major themes in western politics. In particular, it will analyse the ways in which Jewish and Christian ideas about history and the future informed many concepts that shape our philosophical, cultural and political world to this day. We will learn about the historic developments in the relationship of these ideas through the analysis of core texts in theology and philosophy.In addition, the seminars will allow us to probe their relationship with contemporary political life, including our own engagement with it: Why do we think of history as a 'narrative' or 'story'? What does 'progress' mean in a climate of global recession? Why do environmental discourses engage with 'apocalyptic narratives'? What do protesters believe when they believe 'another world is possible'?.


On completion of this course students will be able to critically understand the religious / theological foundations of some major themes in western political thought, and in particular Judaeo-Christian concepts of history and the future. Thus students will be able to engage theologically with ‘secularised’ political expressions such as: progress and providence; messianism; millennium; revolution. They will have good understanding of core texts from political, philosophical and theological traditions related to these themes. They will also be able to critically assess the continued role of religion and theological concepts in contemporary global political issues.

Learning outcomes
Appreciation of the complex relationship between religious and political ideas in western thought.
Ability to locate, and critically engage with key theological and philosophical sources in the history of political thought.
Critical understanding of current debates in political theology.
Detailed understanding of historical and contemporary sources that are key to understanding 'religion in public life'
Methodical assessment of the validity of a secularisation thesis today.

Skills outcomes
By taking this module, students will:

Develop critical analytical skills in discerning the relationship between theological and political beliefs.
Contribute more broadly to an interdisciplinary methodological approach to the study of religion, ethics and politics.
Develop advanced skills in reading philosophical and theological texts
Develop a critical awareness of the influence of theological and philosophical ideas in contemporary political and social life.
Be able to comment on current debates in political theology.
Advance their skills in communication and confidence
Advance independent research skills, especially integrating scholarly research with current public discourses.


The course begins with an introduction to the 'secularisation thesis' and the challenge of thinking about the relationship between religious and political beliefs in the light of the European enlightenment’s claim to have separated the two. The course will then outline major themes in the development of political ideas from religious sources in western history, with an emphasis on the invention of 'history' and teleological narratives; providence and capitalist progress; eschatology and the ‘end of history’; messianism and secular revolutionary theory; millennialism, fascism and totalitarianism; contemporary religion and popular resistance to power.

Teaching methods

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

Private study

5 hours a week preparing for seminars (Including blog entries) = 50 hours
5 hours a week background reading to lectures = 55 hours

73 hours preparation essay

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar feedback
Opportunity to submit an essay plan of 1000 words for feedback
Office hours
Weekly Discussion Blog posts

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

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


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