Topics in the Philosophy of Religion

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
16 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA VV56 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics,
BA VV57 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Placement Year),
BA VV58 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV5P Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

Our aim in this module is to take up a close study of the so-called problem of evil. Roughly, the 'problem of evil' is the objection to belief in a supremely wise, powerful and good God on the grounds of the existence of evil in our world. For how can there be such a God, given the appalling evils we suffer, both natural and human?

Drawing both on classic texts in the history of philosophy and on contemporary debates in the philosophy of religion, we shall critically examine various formulations of the problem of evil, and the main lines of response put forward. In the course of this study, we shall also advance our understanding of many of the most central concepts in the philosophy of religion, including the following: God, faith, theodicy, trial, free will, resignation, spiritual trial, sin and redemption.

Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

develop knowledge and understanding of classic texts in the history of philosophy pertaining to the problem of evil;

develop knowledge and understanding of current debates in the philosophy of religion pertaining to the problem of evil;

explain and critically discuss the central concepts that inform the discussion of the problem of evil, including the following: God, faith, theodicy, trial, free will, resignation, spiritual trial, sin and redemption;

explain and critically assess various formulations of the problem of evil, and the main lines of response put forward.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should have acquired or further developed a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

• define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;

• seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;

• process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;

• compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;

• write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;

• be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;

• think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;

• maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;

• think critically and constructively.

Module information

Study Abroad students should have already taken two philosophy modules at their home institution.

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a two-hour combined lecture and seminar each week and a separate one-hour class. All teaching events will be accessible to students on and off campus either face-to-face or remotely through online teaching. Week 8 is Reading Week.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay plan     20% 
Coursework   Essay (2500 words)    50% 
Coursework   Moodle Quizzes TOTAL (2 of 3)    30% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Daniel Watts, email:
Mr Pavel Reichl



External examiner

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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