BA Philosophy and Religion

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Religion, Ethics and the Environment

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT10242
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Scientists have declared that we have entered a new geological era, the anthropocene. For the first time, humans are causing profound changes to long-term geological processes—including climate change and mass extinction. Humans have always thought hard about the ethics of their relationships with animals and with the cosmos, but the crisis has forced them to think in new ways. This course will look at the resources religious traditions provide for thinking about ethics and the environment. We will examine the ways in which contemporary thinkers have variously applied, adapted and revolutionised those resources. And we will also ask to what extent religious ethics might have been to blame for the crisis, as some have alleged, and how useful it is to analyse environmentalism as a secular form of religious ethics.



  • To introduce you to a variety of religious responses to the contemporary environmental crisis
  • To encourage you to think critically about different views on the relationship between religion and environmentalism

Teaching and learning methods

11 x 2hr lectures 11 x 1hr seminars Information will be made available on Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand and analyse a number of competing views on the relationship between religion and environmentalism
  • Explain and analyse the thought of a number of religious thinkers on the environment
  • Critically evaluate the claim that environmental movements have become a form of secular religion

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse primary and secondary texts on religion and the environment

Practical skills

  • Develop effective strategies of data management in preparation for essay writing under timed conditions in an exam
  • Work as a member of a team to prepare and deliver a presentation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Be aware of key issues in policy debates and the relevance of ethical and religious responses to them

Employability skills

Analytical skills
- The diverse scope of traditions analysed in the course will enhance student awareness of and sensitivity required for dealing with social diversity.
Oral communication
- The course will train students skills in visual/oral public presentation of complex social/cultural data
- Analysing the very wide range of views expressed by theorists regarding the origin and remedy of ecological crisis, will train students in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of arguments.

Assessment methods


Assessment Task Formative or SummativeWeighting
EssaySummative 50%
Reflection EssaySummative 50% 


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on essay


Written feedback on exam



Recommended reading

  • Bauman, W. A. and Bohannon, R. R. I. (2011). Inherited Land: The Chang- ing Grounds of Religion and Ecology. Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR
  • Cruikshank, J. (2007). Do glaciers listen?: local knowledge, colonial encounters and social imagination. UBC Press, Vancouver
  • Darlington, S. M. (2012). The ordination of a tree: The Thai Buddhist environmental movement. SUNY Press, New York
  • Deane-Drummond, C., Bergmann, S., and Szerszynski, B. (2015). Techno- futures, Nature and the Sacred: Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Farnham
  • Dunlap, T. R. (2006). Environmentalism, a secular faith. Environmental values, pages 321– 330
  • Laidlaw, J. Ethical traditions in question: Diaspora jainism and the environmental and animal liberation movements. In Pandian, A. and Ali, D., editors, Ethical Life in South Asia, pages 61–80. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • Sponsel, L. E. (2012). Spiritual ecology: A quiet revolution. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara
  • Taylor, B. (2009). Dark green religion. UC Berkeley Press, Berkeley CA
  • Tucker, M. E. and Grim, J. A. (1994). Worldviews and ecology: Religion, philoso- phy, and the environment. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kamran Karimullah Unit coordinator

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