THE2043 - Religious Literacy, Communication and Media

2022/3 Module description

StaffProfessor Louise Lawrence - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module offers an introduction to religious literacy, (intercultural-) communication and media. For the majority of the world's population, religion is a key identifier. This module will equip you to discern and critically assess intersections between religion and social/political/cultural discourses, worldviews and communications via the provision of knowledge, theoretical tools, and selected case studies.

The module will introduce and assess

  • Varieties of religious communication and their purposes both cross-culturally and historically, between religious leaders and followers, between ritual practitioners and the divine and interfaith encounters between proponents of different faiths.
  • Modes of communication about religion(s) in public and civic life: From the presence of religion(s) on the internet and visual culture (film etc.) and reactions to different religious beliefs in popular advertising, the press, media, gaming etc. to religion-related discourses within the workplace, institutions, and political rhetoric.

Module aims

This module will enable you to begin to reflect on your own worldviews and attitudes to religion(s) and develop critical skills and sensitivities to understand how effective communication works within and around religious discourses and worldviews. You will have the opportunity to develop critical tools to understand and assess how effective communication in public life is assisted by improved religious literacy and work collaboratively with peers in problem-based learning on case studies within the workplace and media related to religion(s).

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Contextualise communication within and about religions in the public square, and contextualise these media and discourses historically and cross-culturally, in critical dialogue with relevant scholarship.
  • 2. Reflect critically on the interpretation of religious communications and discourses about religion, through the embodied perspectives of different readers.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Engage in close readings of a variety of religious-centred, and religious-related communications and media, informed by scholarly perspectives in religious studies and communication and media studies.
  • 4. Show awareness of the range of religious literacies and of one’s own location as a communicator and interpreter in a variety of media and contexts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Attend carefully and closely (both as an individual and working collaboratively with others) to details and meaning of religion, communication and media, in the digital sphere, workplace, institutions and political rhetoric.
  • 6. Be aware of, and reflect critically upon, different constructions of meaning and one’s own (and others) positions as interpreters.

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:

Varieties of religious communication

  • Theory and concepts in a variety of religious communications and performative speech, including rhetoric, persuasion, aniconism, brainwashing, blasphemy etc.
  • Forms of verbal communication, such as chanting, speaking in tongues, preaching, meditating, praying etc.
  • Forms of written and visual communication, such as religious texts, visual culture (film and TV), aniconism, and religious publishing in digital spheres.
  • Communication processes and their effects on religious communication, including inclusive language, inter-cultural communication competence, and interfaith dialogue.

Modes of communication about religion in public life

  • Religion(s) in British and American political discourse  
  • Religion(s) in popular advertising, the press, media, gaming etc.
  • Religion-related discourses within the workplace and institutions (including particular work on the Prevent Strategy).
  • Stereotypes: Christian privilege, antisemitism, Islamophobia etc.

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 2211 x 2-hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 1111 x 1-hour seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 12 x 30 minute group tutorials
Guided independent study266Private and/or small group study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Seminar presentations and/or Podcast (on Problem Based Learning task)20 minutes1-6Oral

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
10 WIKI postings 503000 words1-6Written comment
Essay 503000 words1-6Written comment

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (3000 words(1-6Referral/deferral period
Essay Essay (3000 words)1-6Referral/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

Basic reading:

  • Cheong, P. H., Fischer-Nielson, P., Gelfgren, S., & Ess, C. (Eds.) Digital religion, social media and culture: Perspectives, practices and futures (New York: Peter Lang, 2012).
  • Croucher, S. M., & Harris, T. M. (Eds.) Religion and communication: An anthology of extensions in theory, research, & method (New York: Peter Lang, 2012).
  • Dinham, Adam et al (ed), Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice (Policy Press, 2016)
  • Hoover, Stewart M. Religion in the Media Age (London: Routledge, 2006)
  • Mahan, Jeffrey H. Media, Religion and Culture: An Introduction. (London: Routledge, 2014).
  • Martin-Barbero, J. Communication, culture and hegemony: From the media to the mediations (London: SAGE, 1993).
  • Piller, I. Intercultural communication: A critical introduction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011)
  • Prothero, Stephen. Religious Literacy (HarperOne, 2008).
  • Romanowski, William D. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007)
  • Stout, Daniel A. Media and Religion: Foundations of an Emerging Field (New York: Routledge, 2012)

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