Texts in the Philosophy of Religion

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 20 April 2020
Friday 26 June 2020
04 July 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

In this module we will study the work of Augustine (354-430 BC), Bishop of Hippo. We shall focus on two texts, the Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love and the Confessions, with a view to a) understanding Augustine's thought better and b) teasing out his interpretation of the three 'theological' virtues, namely faith, hope and love.

What makes these virtues different from the Greek 'cardinal' virtues (justice, prudence, temperance and courage) is that neither their possession nor their exercise depend fully on us: we cannot will ourselves to have faith, to hope or to love. But if this is so, how can they be deemed theological virtues? How can I be praised for having faith, hoping or loving if whether I have faith, hope or love is not up to me?

Further, how should faith, hope and love be understood in the context of Augustine' life and works, namely early Christianity? Why are they theological virtues? What kind of relation to the divine do they require us to have? And can they be of any help to the non-believer, or to practitioners of other religions?

We shall seek to answer these questions both from the perspective of a believer like Augustine and from that of non religious persons, thus testing the limits of Augustine's psychology against those of his theology.

Module aims

This module will enable the students to:

Acquire detailed knowledge of both the Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, and of the Confessions;
Have a better comprehension of the theological virtues and what makes them distinctive;
Develop their understanding of religious thinking and whether/how it may be of relevance outside of a religious context.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills. In particular, they will:

Have developed the analytic and critical skills required for the close reading of philosophical/religious texts;
Be capable of reconstructing philosophical or religious arguments in their own words and to produce a constructive critique of such arguments;
Have improved their knowledge of how to structure a piece of writing and present it in the clearest and most relevant manner;
Have developed the ability to do some research on their own and to think by themselves, and in particular to build upon/revise any initial views they might have held;
Be sensitive to the positions of others, and capable of communicating their own views in ways that are interesting and accessible to most, ideally to all.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

* Week 1: 1h of lecture + 1h of work/discussion on related material + 1h seminar-style close reading + 2h of methodology for presentations and take home research papers and examples + assignment of presentations to each student for the module + non assessed exercises in class = 5h * Week 2: 1h of lecture + 1h of work/discussion on related material + 1h seminar-style close reading + 2h of assessed presentations = 5h * Week 3: same * Week 4: same Week 5: same + 2 extra hours of presentations so that there are slots for all students. = 7h NB: if student numbers are higher than expected then some of the seminar style close readings will be replaced by assessed presentations. Assessment = 100% coursework broken down as follows: * 1 standard length essay (2000-3000 words): 40% * 1 take home research paper (2000 words max): 40% * 1 solo presentation: 20%


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Essay Plan (750 words) 12/05/2020 15%
Coursework Essay (3500 words) 29/05/2020 60%
Practical Presentation 25%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Beatrice Han-Pile



External examiner

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 25 hours, 25 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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