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    Theology and Philosophy of Religion

    The aims of this course are to enable candidates to develop their knowledge and understanding of the nature of religion in the following three key areas:

    • Ethics (Moral Philosophy)
    • Philosophy of Religion
    • Developments in Religious Thought (Christianity)

    The course requires candidates to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

    • Ethical theories (Natural Law, Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics) and how these are expressed and applied to modern day situations or circumstances such as abortion or genetic engineering
    • Ethical language and terminology
    • Principle theories for and against the existence of God
    • The debate between religion and science
    • The relationship between faith & reason
    • Debates around the meaning and truth of religious language
    • Questions and contradictions in the attributes of God
    • Religious experiences and miracles and how these could be used to argue for or against the existence of God
    • Questions about life after death

    In addition students will study Christianity from both the theological and historical perspectives. Students will develop an understanding of:

    • The development of Christian soteriology from Augustine to Calvin.
    • The emergence of radical feminist perspectives on Christian belief and on the Bible.
    • Marxist thought and the interaction between Marx and Liberation Theology.
    • The life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the plot to assassinate Hitler.
    • The development of the concept of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.
    • How do Christians develop knowledge of God? Reason versus revelation.
    • Can a Christian truly embrace multi-culturalism? 
    • Are non-Christians going to Hell according to Christian teachings?

    Year One

    Ethics Ethical Philosophy:  Kant and the Categorical Imperative; Utilitarianism, in many forms; Absolute and Relative Morality; The relation between these ethical systems and religious methods of decision making; Practical ethics as applied to two key issues: euthanasia and Capitalism.

    Philosophy of Religion: Ancient Greek influences on Philosophy Attributes of God; The main philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God including the work of Aquinas, Paley, Hick and Darwin; Attempts to resolve the problem of evil.

    Developments in Christian thought: Augustinian soteriology, predestination and Original Sin; Heaven, Hell and Purgatory; The historical figure of Jesus and the political climate of Roman Palestine; How do Christians make ethical decisions?; the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    Year Two

    Religious Ethics: Free will and human conscience.  Are we born with ideas about right and wrong or do we develop these? Do humans have genuine free-will or are our decisions controlled? The different vantage points on the conscience offered by Thomas Aquinas and Sigmund Freud. What does ‘good’ actually mean and can we have a universal understanding of it? Philosophical and religious responses to moral issues surrounding business, sex and relationships and the environment.

    Philosophy of Religion: Do humans have a body and a soul and what is our evidence for this? What happens after death? Are religious experiences and miracles genuine? Can God really reveal himself to humans? Can we accurately discuss religion? Can we describe God? Can different religions have genuine discussions with one another?

    Developments in Christianity: How can Christian theologians reconcile soteriological claims with the existence of competing religions? How do Christians live out a Christian life in the context of a multi-cultural society? Can one be a Christian and a feminist? Or is the Bible an irretrievably misogynistic document? Is it possible to be a Marxist Christian? Or does Marx’s analysis of society preclude religious belief? 

    Examinations Required: Three 2 hour exams.

    • Philosophy of Religion
    • Religion and Ethics
    • Development in Religious Thought 

    Entry Requirements: GCSEs at grade 6 or above in English language and mathematics and 3 other GCSEs at grade 6 or above including Short or Full course RE. (Negotiable if students have not taken GCSE RE)

    Exam Board & Syllabus Names: OCR Religious Studies (H573)