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Heythrop - MA Philosophy and Religion

(Text as at 18/12/2010 12:00:00)

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This Note acts as a jumping-off point for my studies in the MA Philosophy and Religion at Heythrop.

As a reminder, here are:-

It might be interesting to review these as the course progresses, to see whether I’m realising what I’d hoped.

The control document for the preliminary reading is here3.

I’ve not decided how to structure my notes on philosophy of religion yet – but the jumping-off point for them is here. This table will grow over time.

The MA Philosophy and Religion – Programme Handbook for 2010/11 is a useful document, and I’ve abstracted from it a few key points for reflection:-

Programme Aims
  1. To provide a foundation in reflective study of philosophical theological questions relating to religious belief;
  2. To provide the conceptual tools necessary for a critical and evaluative grasp of certain fundamental questions of philosophy of religion and theology;
  3. To appreciate some aspects of the history of philosophical and theological approaches to religious questions and how that history has influenced contemporary approaches;
  4. To provide a critical foundation in fundamental Christian ethics, with particular attention paid to its social applicability in a context of cultural pluralism.;
  5. To provide an opportunity for students to apply general ethical principles of theory and method in particular situations;
  6. To provide an opportunity for students to appreciate the diverse ways in which different religious traditions have approached fundamental religious questions;
  7. To provide an opportunity for students to explore the relationship between religious faith, reason and practical living;
  8. To provide research skills, which will enable the student to undertake research in an appropriate field of the student's own choice.
Course Modules

We have to take 2 compulsory modules, two optional modules and submit a dissertation.

I am committed to taking the following compulsory modules in the first year. Further information is available by following the links:-
  1. Philosophy of Religion: Follow this link4. Taken in the Michaelmas Term, 2010.
  2. Contemporary Christian Thought: Follow this link5. Taken in the Lent Term 2011.
At the moment, I’m considering the Ethics Pathway6, which would commit me to two of the three courses below. I’ll add extra information in due course:-
  1. Foundations of Ethics: To be taken in the Michaelmas Term 2011 (see Link (Defunct) for the 2010/117 course outline).
    … then either
  2. Ethical Issues Today: To be taken in the Lent Term 2012 (see Link (Defunct) for the 2010/118 course outline).
    … or
  3. Bioethics and Sexual Ethics: To be taken in the Lent Term 2012 (see Link (Defunct) for the 2010/119 course outline).
Some important points to note on the modules generally:-
  1. Attendance at classes – there are 11 x 2-hour sessions per module – is a prerequisite, and it looks like you fail the course if you miss more than a couple of classes per module.
  2. Effort: It looks like a notional figure of 20010 hours effort per course is required, of which 22 hours is class time, and 66 hours (the recommended 6 hours / week) is reading time. That leaves 112 hours for the three pieces of written work – two pieces of course work and an essay of 4,000 words. As the latter takes 60% of the marks, that would be 66 hours, with an average of 23 hours each for the other two.
  3. Deadlines are strictly adhered to, and failure to comply with them means failure of the Module in queston. For the compulsory courses:-
    • Coursework for Philosophy of Religion module must be submitted by Monday 10th January 2011.
    • Coursework for Contemporary Christian Thought module must be submitted by Tuesday 3rd May 2011.
    • The essays must be submitted by Monday 13th June 2011.
  4. Tutorials: you are allowed two per essay (a planning session and a review of a draft), but none for the coursework11.
  5. Assessment:
    • The pass-mark is 50%, but the Hand-book doesn’t say what the Merit or Distinction mark-thresholds12 are. We are urged to read the Postgraduate Student Handbook and the Academic Regulations for further information on assessment – and these give the thresholds as 60% and 70% respectively. The 2009/10 Regulations give various other details on the MA classification scheme in section 65 (page 39). For the distinction, what is required is:-
      … Either four marks above 69, with at least 66 for the dissertation
      … Or three marks above 69, plus at least 138 marks
      … Or three marks above 72, plus at least 135 marks.
    • From this I deduce13 that, while the dissertation may involve the effort of two Modules, it doesn’t receive double credit; indeed, its only mention is in the first bullet above.
    • The bottom line seems to be that you have to get at least 66 in the dissertation to get a distinction, but that if you get above 70 in three Modules plus the dissertation, you might be able to get away with a scrape pass in the fourth Module.
    • The criteria for a mark of 70 or above are given in the 2009/10 (page 40) as:-
      Grasp of field of study
      … outstanding grasp of issues and high level of critical insights
      … extensive, insightful and critical review of literature
      … high level of independence and creativity in application of knowledge
      Understanding and evaluation
      … sophisticated conceptual understanding and evaluation of scholarship and research
      … creative and critical handling and inferring from data
      Structure, communication and presentation
      … exceptional clarity, focus and cogency in organisation and presentation of arguments and conclusions.
    • Class-splits: These (Distinction – Merit – Pass) announced in October 2010 for relevant MAs were:-
      Philosophy of Religion: 2 – 9 – 7 (18)
      Theology: 2 – 16 – 8 (26)
      Philosophy: 2 – 0 – 14 (16)
  6. Essay topics have to be approved in advance. We are exhorted to start work on the first essay early, and not leave the essays until the summer term.
  7. Difficulty: At the induction day, Fiona Ellis warned that the course is difficult and that finding it tough14 going is a good sign, as it demonstrates that you aren’t skating over the issues.

There is also a dissertation of between 12,000 and 15,000 words. This has to be submitted by 1st September 201215. One of my reasons for embarking on the MA is to consider the metaphysical possibility of resurrection, a proposed Chapter for my PhD dissertation16.

Some points to note on the dissertation:-
  1. The dissertation topic needs to be associated with one of the modules, and you need to demonstrate that you have the necessary background knowledge.
  2. You agree the topic and the exact title with the module teacher, though the Programme Convenor can assist.
  3. You have an initial meeting with your supervisor – ie. the Module teacher – to define the topic and the reading, and can then get feedback on drafts of the dissertation as a whole, or of its sections.
  4. There’s a Dissertation Workshop in the Michaelmas Term17.
  5. The reading list doesn’t count towards the word-count, but footnotes do. A reference counts as a single word18.
So, I’d like the dissertation to be related to my Thesis topic. I’ll need to convince someone that such a topic is sufficiently connected to the course material – background should be no problem – but I’ve received the “OK19” that the following title will be satisfactory:-

… “Can a human being have eternal life?”.

Language Courses

Finally, I’m intending to take a couple of BA language courses (for assessment20, though they won’t count towards the MA):-
  1. Biblical Hebrew: in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms 2010/11. The 2010/11 Module Outline is at Link (Defunct). The first term has been rather easy, unsurprising given my background.
  2. Qur’anic21 Arabic: in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms 2011/12. The 2010/11 Module Outline is at Link (Defunct).
Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to brush up on my Latin. A note from Dr Richard Price:- All this may be a distraction, but it’s a way of channelling the effort devoted to my Languages22 project.

Heythrop Hand-books

The various Handbooks for 2010/11 haven’t yet appeared in electronic form on the Heythrop website (Link (Defunct)), though hard-copies23 of some are available. The 2009/10 versions of some useful ones are:-Web Links

Some links that are always useful are here:-

In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 6: Even if I wished to take it, which I don’t, Selected Themes in European Philosophy is not offered next year, so would have to be taken in the Michaelmas Term 2010.

Footnote 7: To see how the course varies year-on-year, see Link (Defunct) for the 2009/10 course outline.

Footnote 8: To see how the course varies year-on-year, see Link (Defunct) for the 2009/10 course outline.

Footnote 9: To see how the course varies year-on-year, see Link (Defunct) for the 2009/10 course outline. This course seems to have changed somewhat from year to year, so if I take it next year, who’s to know whether it’ll still be the same?

Footnote 10: But the Regulations say that an MA should equate to 1,800 hours. Given that the dissertation counts as twice as much as one of the four modules, that would imply 300 hours per module, which sounds more likely than 200.

Footnote 11: At the induction day I floated the idea that we cover a lot more ground in the course than can be covered in a single essay, and would there be any method of getting feedback on other topics. No, it seems. The suggestion (by Fiona Ellis) that extra essays be fired at the module coordinator was not a serious one.

Footnote 12: Quite what marks mean in an arts subject, I know not. The complex coding structure for the philosophy BA may be no better.

Footnote 13: But it’s a bit obscure. It’s certainly the case that if you only get three marks over 70, the other two need to be close to 70. I’ll chase this up in due course if it looks like I’m in “distinction” territory.

Footnote 14: My main worry is the interface between philosophy and theology – I understand the rules of engagement for analytic philosophy – ethics apart – but not for theology.

Footnote 15: But, at the cost of a continuation fee, it can be deferred until June 2013.

Footnote 17: It’s not stated whether this is of year 1 or year 2.

Footnote 18: This will make counting the words rather tedious, unless MS Word has something clever.

Footnote 19: On 22/11/10, from Charlotte Fowler.

Footnote 20: The Hand-book says that “Part-time students may wish to audit an additional module”. You must consult the Programme Convenor – ie. Paul Rout, though as he’s on sabbatical, it’ll be Fiona Ellis this term. I vary from this in at least three respects:- Anyway, I checked with Fiona, and she’s given the all-clear for both Hebrew and Arabic.

Footnote 21: For a useful-looking website for the Arabic text, commentary and translations of the Qur’an, see Link.

Footnote 23: The 2010/11 electronic copies will be published in November, it was said.

Footnote 24: To access the data on these sites, you’ll need to log in using your name library ID – the 10-digit number on the back of your Heythrop ID card.

Previous Version of this Note:

Date Length Title
20/11/2010 07:23:31 12947 Heythrop - MA Philosophy and Religion

Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
18/12/2010 12:00:00 None available None

Summary of Notes Referenced by This Note

Heythrop - Contemporary Christian Thought Heythrop - MA Philosophy and Religion - Introductory Reading Heythrop - Personal Statement Heythrop - Philosophy of Religion McDade_100729
Status: Languages (2024 - March) Thesis - Preface      

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.

Summary of Notes Citing This Note

Heythrop - Philosophy of Religion Status: Philosophy of Religion (2024 - March) Theo Todman's Christian Page Theo Todman's Personal Page  

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.

Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

Author Title Medium Extra Links Read?
Todman (Theo) Review of 'What is Truth?' by Peter Vardy Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes

References & Reading List

Author Title Medium Source Read?
Vardy (Peter) Heythrop MA Philosophy of Religion Lectures Book - Cited Vardy (Peter) - Heythrop MA Philosophy of Religion Lectures 93%
Various Papers on Religion Boxes (Heythrop) Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Various - Papers on Religion Boxes (Heythrop) 15%
Various Papers on Religion Boxes (Non-Heythrop) Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Various - Papers on Religion Boxes (Non-Heythrop) 100%

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