BA Philosophy and Religion

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Being Human[e]: Theological Studies in Philosophy and Ethics

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT10911
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will introduce you to different ways of understanding the interaction between religion and philosophy, primarily in European contexts. It will do so by exploring one of the most important and enduring cultural questions: namely, what does it mean to be human? And, what does it mean to be humane? The course will highlight the significance of these questions for philosophers and theologians by looking at the notion that humans were made in the image of God (imago dei) alongside religious and secular challenges to it. How do these approaches to ‘humanness’ inform how we think about and interact with animals, nature, technology, and other humans? Using this framework, the course will allow you to research questions such as whether it is ethical to eat meat, if humans are equal, and if we are ‘playing God’ with our technologies. 


  • To provide an introduction to the interactions between religion and philosophy as a basis for study throughout the degree programme
  • To introduce you to the fundamental question for religious and philosophical enquiry of what it is to be human, and to facilitate engagement with a range of the key debates in response to it
  • To familiarise you with some of the key technical terms and concepts relevant to the interactions between philosophical and religious reflection on ‘human(e)ness’
  • To enable you to make the transition into higher education by developing your study and other transferable skills (i.e. finding information, efficient reading, learning to think critically, essay writing, working in groups)
  • To provide a range of methods of teaching, learning, and assessment (formative and summative) in recognition of different learning styles and experience

Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught via blended learning. Key course content is delivered by means of interactive online lectures (hosted via Blackboard), which will include video and presentation content delivered by lecturer alongside discussion/group activities (i.e. quizzes, collaborative documents, discussion board). Online lectures will also feature study skills activities (indexed in a study skills workbook for the course), providing opportunity to develop and rehearse skills that are essential for assignments in the course, as well as for university and transferable to employment and careers. Face-to-face seminars invite group discussion in response to the weekly study skill and a pre-set reading through some questions to structure or guide engagement with the text. Students are expected – and trained through the course – to conduct independent learning and research using the University Library and online resources.

Knowledge and understanding

  •  To explore the interaction of religion and philosophy and be aware of mutual influences and critiques, including the influence of secularity, science, ethics, and beliefs
  • To appreciate the significance of debates about human nature in contemporary contexts, looking specifically at human(e)ness alongside animals, nature, technology, and society

Intellectual skills

  • To practice and develop comparative and critical source handling skills
  • To be able to analyse case studies using theological and philosophical material
  • To consider a range of viewpoints and perspectives, and to place them in intellectual contexts 
  • To understand, practice, and receive feedback on how to write an academic essay, including how to follow referencing conventions and how to develop and present an argument 

Practical skills

  • To develop key academic skills such as annotation and source handling via an integrated programme of study skills
  • To develop communication and groupwork skills by participating in group discussions and preparing a group presentation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • To be able to reflect critically on your own attitudes and values
  • To familiarise yourself with some of the key methodologies and ideas in religion and philosophy that will help you in other course units

Employability skills

research, source analysis and comparison, planning and structuring an essay, developing an argument, group work, delivering a presentation.

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or Summative Length
Weighting within unit (if summative) 
Source analysis Formative600 words0%
Group presentation (including 1 page collaboratively written summary of process) Summative 10 minutes40%
Essay Summative 2000 words60%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Peer feedback in small groups on study skills tasks in lectures and seminars (the study skills programme is designed to develop the range of foundational and essential skills that are required to meet assessments, i.e. annotation, source handling, developing an argument). E.g. presentations and communication; writing an introduction: students will practice these skills in a workshop and have the opportunity to discuss each other’s work


Formal feedback on non-assessed written work (written)


Formal feedback on assessed work (written)



Recommended reading

  • Joanna Bourke, What it Means to be Human (London: Virago, 2011)
  • Marc Cortez, Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Bloomsbury, 2010)
  • Michelle A. Gonzalez, Created in God’s Image: An Introduction to Feminist Theological Anthropology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2007)
  • Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (London: Vintage, 2011)
  • F. LeRon Shults, Reforming Theological Anthropology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003)
  • Leslie Stevenson (ed.), The Study of Human Nature: A Reader (Second Edition) (Oxford: OUP, 2000)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eve Parker Unit coordinator

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