MA Religions and Theology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Methods for Analysing Religious and Theological Issues

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT61131
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course introduces students to the theory and application of discourse-analytical methods and their affiliated methodological disciplines used in Religions and Theology. In the first week an introduction to key concepts of discourse analysis will provide an overview of various developments in methodology relevant to the MA programme. These different methodological approaches will be discussed and compared in the second week on the basis of four case studies. In the third and fifth week, students will join one of four small focus groups subject to their proposed essay topic. In these four focus groups: Jewish Studies, Biblical Studies, Theology and Philosophy, Religious Studies, students will continue to explore subject specific methodological approaches (week 3) and learn to evaluate and apply a specific method to their proposed research project (week 5). In week four the discussion of theoretical aspects of discourse analytical-methods is continued by concentrating on the variety of possible ‘texts’ that can be studied, ranging from rare manuscripts to paintings, film, architecture or complex social systems like the city.

In addition to the study of discourse analytical methods, this course also provides the opportunity to study alternative methodologies via ‘Arts Methods’ units.


  • To develop knowledge of a broad range of discourse-analytical approaches to research in the field of Religious and Theological Studies.
  • To develop analytical and research skills in applying those approaches.
  • To develop skills in evaluating the work of scholars who are carrying out research in Religious and Theological Studies.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Articulate the main features and defining qualities of various understandings and methods of discourse analysis currently being used in Religious and Theological Studies
  • Develop an enhanced understanding of key elements of discourse analysis and its affiliated methodological disciplines used in the study of Religions and Theology
  • Gain critical awareness of the historical and ideological contexts in which theories and methods of discourse analysis originated and have been developed to the present day

Intellectual skills

  • Understand the application of various methods of discourse analysis to other artefacts such as images, film and architecture
  • Use in a critically aware manner a specific method of discourse analysis in Religious and Theological Studies for the interpretation and understanding of a religious/theological text or artefact and its context


Practical skills

  • Demonstrate skills in written and verbal communication
  • Apply key skills in analytical interpretation
  • Acquire basic knowledge of text-related technologies used in digital humanities


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  •  Demonstrate an ability to respond critically but respectfully to diverse opinions
  • Develop independent thought and critical self-awareness about personal values, beliefs and practices
  • Refine problem-solving skills and demonstrate the ability to locate, analyse and utilise information
  • Use IT and computer skills to support research

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Advanced theoretical and practical knowledge of discourse analysis; Careful generalisation on the basis of analysis of specific examples
Group/team working
Working as part of a team
Project management
Working to fulfil the requirements of a specified brief
Oral communication
Communication skills (written and oral)
Research skills
Manage and undertake self-defined research tasks and present the outcomes to a wider audience; Acquire basic knowledge of text-related technologies used in digital humanities; Religious literacy

Assessment methods

Draft essay plan 0%
Essay 100%
Report 0%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Peer feedback


Written feedback on essay


For the SALC Postgraduate Feedback Policy, please see:




Recommended reading

  • Bergunder, Michael. ‘What is Religion? In: Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 26.3, 2014, pp. 246-286.
  • Burke, Peter. What is the History of Knowledge? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015).
  • Fairclough, Norman. Discourse and Social Change (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992).
  • Foucault, Michel. Archaeology of Knowledge (London: Routledge, 2002).
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method (London: Sheed & Ward, 1975).
  • Lakoff, George; Johnson, Mark. Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
  • Oakes, Peter. ‘Methodological Issues In Using Economic Evidence in Interpretation of Early Christian Texts’ in: Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian Reception, ed. Bruce W.
  • Longenecker and Kelly Liebengood (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009) pp 9-34.
  • Ricœur, Paul.  The Conflict of Interpretations. Essays in Hermeneutics (London et al.: Continuum, 2004).
  • Thiselton, Anthony C. Hermeneutics: An introduction (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009).
  • Wodak, Ruth E.; Meyer, Michael (eds). Methods of critical discourse studies. Introducing Qualitative Methods (London: Sage, 32015).



Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 8
Practical classes & workshops 2
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexander Samely Unit coordinator
Todd Klutz Unit coordinator
Eve Parker Unit coordinator

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