MA Religions and Theology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Impacts of Religious and Theological Issues on Society and Culture

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT61141
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


This course unit builds on the foundations laid in RELT61131: “Methods” to develop student understanding of contemporary issues in the study of Religions and Theology by focusing on religious practices. Students will have the opportunity to explore the ways in which religion impacts upon contemporary political, legal and cultural aspects of both Western and non-Western social life. They will also develop an understanding of how research methods studied in RELT61131 can be applied in practical research on religious practices in the modern world; eg. the impact of biblical text on modern constructions of gender, religious aspects of contemporary forms violence and resistance, secularisation and changing  ethical value systems, religious practices and legal norms, ecotheology and activism, cultures of remembrance in the context of Holocaust studies.  In encouraging students to choose their individual research topic from a range of topics across different religious and political contexts, the course unit also acts in support of dissertation preparation, allowing students to engage with the different research areas and interests of potential supervisors.



  • To create awareness of the cultural, political and sociological role religion and theology plays today;
  • To gain familiarity of the current research areas in religions and theology and their wider academic context;
  • To use different methodological approaches to examine and evaluate religious practices today;
  • To create awareness of implicit religious aspects of contemporary social life.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the practical applications of theoretical positions to research across the area of Religions and Theology;
  • Understand the challenges of research in different historical, sociological, anthropological, theological and     philosophical contexts within the subject area, and ways of dealing with difficulties arising in the course of research;
  • Understand the complexity of identifying and describing religious and secular forms of contemporary social practices;
  • Understand and be able to critically discuss debates on the role of religion in contemporary life and culture in both ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ contexts;
  • Grasp and critically assess major issues in scholarship focusing on practised religious beliefs in the contemporary world.

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of a range of different contemporary research areas of Religions and Theology with social impact;
  • Apply appropriate methodologies in analysing religious practices and demonstrate their wider social impact.

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate skills in written and verbal communication;
  • Apply key skills in analytical interpretation;
  • Understand and apply methods and concepts discussed in RELT611311 [“Methods”] to a range of contexts across the subject area;


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  •  Demonstrate an ability to respond critically but respectfully to diverse opinions;
  • Develop independent thought and critical self-awareness about their own 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

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. The following skills will all be developed as part of this unit: - Working as part of a team - Communication skills (written and oral) - Working to fulfil the requirements of a specified brief - Research skills ¿Advanced theoretical and practical knowledge of analysing social practices with respect to religion- Religious literacy - Careful generalisation on the basis of analysis of specific examples.

Assessment methods

Oral presentation

15 mins



3000 words



500 words



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Peer feedback on presentation


Written feedback on essay


For the SALC Postgraduate Feedback Policy, please see:




Recommended reading

  • Bailey, Edward I. Implicit Religion in Contemporary Society (Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1997).
  • Bell, Catherine. Ritual. Perspectives and Dimensions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
  • Bernstein, Richard. Praxis and Action. Contemporary Philosophies of Human Activity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 21999).
  • Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkely: University of California Press, 32011).
  • Flannery, Francis; Werline, Rodney A. (eds). The Bible in Political Debate. What does it really say? (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).
  • Wuthnow, Robert. Rediscovering the Sacred. Perspectives on Religion in Contemporary Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1992).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 8
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kamran Karimullah Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Scheduled Activity Hours:

6x2 hours seminar 

4x2 hours attendance at one of the departmental research seminars

Independent study hours: 130

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