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Philosophy of Religion

Unit code: PHIL20021
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit?: Y




- Engagement with some of the most central and enduring problems in philosophy of religion;

- Enhance your power of critical analysis, reasoning and independent thought, and your ability to bring those powers to bear on important philosophical issues;

- Familiarise you with some of the most interesting and provocative texts in contemporary work on philosophy of religion.


This course provides a detailed introduction and analysis of the central problems and issues in contemporary philosophy of religion.

The questions that we will consider include: Can we prove God's existence by reason alone? Is the evidence of 'fine tuning' conditions in the universe a good reason to believe that God created it? Is it either consistent or plausible to believe that there is a God given the amount of evil in the world? Can we ever be justified in believing that a miracle has occurred? Is religious belief rational if there is no evidence in its favour? What is the relationship between scientific and religious belief?

In the course of examining these topics we will look at major contemporary writings on religious belief and language, including work by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne.

Teaching and learning methods

One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial weekly

Learning outcomes

- Knowledge and understanding of a range of central 20th century texts on philosophy of religion;

- Some in-depth critical knowledge of the most important modern and contemporary theories in the areas covered by the course;

- The ability to critically reflect on those theories, and to articulate and defend your own views.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 67%
  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 33%

Recommended reading

Graham Oppy, Michael Scott Reading Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 2010)

The following are useful:
M Peterson, W Hasker, B Reichenbach, D Basinger (eds.) Philosophy of Religion:
Selected Readings (OUP)
M Peterson, W Hasker, B Reichenbach, D Basinger (eds.) Reason & Religious Belief
Brian Davies (ed.) Philosophy of Religion: A guide and anthology (OUP, 2000) E. Stump and M. Malden (eds.) Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions (Blackwell, 1999) M. Peterson (ed.) Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings (OUP, 2001) W. Rowe and W. Wainwright (eds.) Philosophy of Religion (OUP, 1998) J. L. Mackie The Miracle of Theism (Oxford, 1982)

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Tutorials - 10 hours
  • Independent study hours - 170 hours

Teaching staff

Michael Scott - Unit coordinator

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