THE1008 - Big Questions in Science and Religion

2022/3 Module description

StaffProfessor Christopher Southgate - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module aims to take an innovative approach to a series of major issues on which the natural sciences and Christian thought contribute insights. The issues will be approached via a problem-solving approach. In this module you will work in teams to develop solutions to problems that will in turn illustrate key issues in the interaction of the sciences with Christian theology.

No prior understanding of the sciences or of Christian theology is necessary to participate fully in this module.

As an introduction to interdisciplinary working, it is particularly suitable for those exploring interdisciplinary enquiry.

Module aims

The four case-studies for group exploration will cover subjects such as interplanetary travel and colonisation, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the science and theology of COVID-19, the theology and ethics of food, and the challenge of climate change. All students will explore all case-studies (though you will be able to choose which two areas you will be assessed in).

In turn this will permit exploration of theological issues such as paradigm shift, the problem of divine action, symbiosis in ecosystems, and whether Christianity has anything to offer to environmental thinking and lifestyle.

This builds on departmental expertise on divine action, practical theology, ecotheology, and environmental ethics.

The group-working will build key skills for the world of work, including team-working, the ability to reflect on practice, and the ability to communicate effectively through the Web. An awareness of the climate emergency will also become increasingly essential for a whole range of types of employment.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Give a non-technical account of one or more challenges to contemporary human life that are informed by the sciences
  • 2. Explain how those challenges interact with specific Christian theological positions

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate understanding of the ways in which Christian theology tends to interact with the sciences
  • 4. Give an account of how that interaction affects classic Christian frameworks of thought

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Work in a student team to generate creative solutions to a given task, showing respect for the views of others
  • 6. Generate a set of webpages that creatively illustrate the groupwork and the issues it addressed

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Training in the use of entry-level Web design software
  • The case-studies, supported by lectures on the issues arising in terms of interactions between the sciences and Christian theology.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 9Group activities: Problem-based learning
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 2Web software training : Instruction in use of the basic software required
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 11Lectures (which may be recorded and accessed asynchronously): Exploring issues raised in the case-studies
Guided Independent Study 128Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan1 page1-41:1 mentoring with instructor
Participate in group tasks Participate in 15-minute group report 1-5Oral group feedback from instructor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Web pages responding to one of the case-studies45Webpages to the equivalent of 1500 words1-6BART feedback sheet
Essay from a set of specified titles451500 words1-5BART feedback sheet
Assessment of attendance and contribution to groupwork 10Based on attendance at essay tutorial, contribution to on-line discussion, and peer evaluation 5-6 BART feedback sheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Web pagesWeb pages or text equivalent1-6Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay on the same topic as the initial assessment1-5Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, U Chicago Press, 1961) 

  • C. Southgate (ed.), God, Humanity and the Cosmos (London: T&T Clark, 3rd edn 2011)  

  • R. Muers and D. Grumett (eds), Eating and Believing (London: T&T Clark, 2011)

  • M. Hulme, Why we disagree about Climate Change (Cambridge: CUP, 2009edn) 

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Important please note

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the module descriptors for the Online Module Selection process, please be aware that on rare occasions it may be necessary to remove proposed modules for reasons beyond our control. In addition, there are still some new modules going through the accreditation process. These will be offered in due course by the relevant discipline.

All modules displayed below have been approved by the approval process but may require further minor amendments before the commencement of teaching.

We are committed to providing an outstanding education and high quality teaching. You can find out details of your modules and any potential changes on these pages. If you are a returning student, joining after the first year or a postgraduate student details of your module changes will be provided in August. 

Foreign Language Centre modules

Term 1 module codes listed above ending with C, i.e. FLF1115C, are only available to outbound students who are away in Term 2. Students studying all year must select the standard module across both Term 1 and 2.