Theology and Religion Essay Competition

At the Department of Theology & Religion at the University of Exeter, we want to hear your ideas about religion!

We’re inviting A-Level and IB students in any subject to send us 1,000 words on one of the following big questions:

Would the world be better off without religion?

Should everyone have to study religion at school?

Does learning about religion make us look back to the past, or forward to the future?

You can write in any way you like – an essay, a poem, a piece of creative writing – the more imaginative the better! The competition will be judged by a panel of expert academics in Theology and Religion.

For details of how to enter, please see the below poster (click to enlarge).

 

This competition is also being advertised on the University of Exeter Discover University team’s Facebook and Twitter: @DiscoverUniExe.

 

You may also find our pages for Teachers useful: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/teachers/

Summer Resources for Year 13s: Edition Three – Religions, Philosophy and Ethics

Welcome back to our third and final blogpost of videos, podcasts and other resources to explore over the summer. This post focuses on religions such as Judaism and Islam as well as atheism and agnosticism. There are also some resources about philosophy of religion, ethics and the study of religion and science.

 

One of the core modules you will take in your first year is named ‘Religion in the Modern World’, which is taught by a range of expert academics. The module convener, Dr David Tollerton, has provided some interesting resources that relate to this module:

 

The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life 2015 report:

This report provides a picture of religion and diversity in 21st century Britain. It’s quite detailed, so to start with you may just want to read the executive summary (pages 6-8) and think about the key issues raised there.

 

The 2019 ‘Understanding Unbelief’ report:

This report thinks about agnosticism and atheism across a selection of countries, and aims to emphasise the diversity of unbelief across these contexts. It’s worth looking through the graphs to see if you find anything surprising in the findings.

A BBC website overview of the Northern Irish ‘Gay Cake’ controversy from 2018:

In the ‘Religion in the Modern World’ module one of the topics we address is relationship between freedom of expression, religion, and the law. This BBC article provides a short overview of a specific recent controversy in Northern Ireland – when reading through it, try to work out how you think the rights of those involved should be balanced under the law.

 

The 2019 BBC documentary ‘The Satanic Verses: 30 Years On’:

The Satanic Verses controversy in the late 1980s was a crucial event for thinking about religion in the modern world, particularly with regard to Islam in Britain. It provoked some of today’s continuing discussions of religious fundamentalism, freedom of expression, and the relationship between racism and treatment of religious minorities. This 2019 documentary looks at the events and how they continue to influence ongoing debates about religion in public life.

 

 

The 2018 BBC documentary ‘We Are British Jews’:

This 2018 documentary follows the discussions of a group of British Jews, emphasising their diversity of opinions and the complex relationships between religious, culture, politics, and identity. Jewish life often disrupts simple definitions of ‘religion’ (a concept that developed in Christian contexts), so as well as weighing up the issues discussed in the documentary it’s worth thinking about your preconceptions of what is meant by ‘religion’ and ‘identity’.

 

You may also be interested in some BBC radio programmes about Judaism and Islam, as you may also have the option to take ‘Introduction to Islam’ in your first year at Exeter:

Judaism:

The Talmud

Maimonides

Toleration

 

Islam:

Sunni and Shia Islam

The Arab Conquests

Islamic Law and its Origins

Another module you will encounter in your first year is named ‘Philosophy of Religion and Christian Ethics’. Many of us here in the Department of Theology and Religion have really enjoyed Netflix’s The Good Place because of the way it wrestles with good and evil. Treat yourself to watching it and have ponder about how we think about good and evil today. Is it harder to be good now than it used to be?

 

The BBC have also produced a radio programme about Good and Evil which makes for a great companion piece!

If you wold like to start exploring philosophy of religion yourself, take a look at this very easy to understand blog post What is Philosophy of Religion? and have an explore of the other helpful resources available there too!

 

One of the complexities concerning ethics that you will likely encounter in your Theology and Religion degree at Exeter is about how businesses can become more ethical. For an introduction to some of these issues have a look at this YouTube video, A Blueprint for a Better Business, and consider the following:

‘Business ethics’: are these two words contradictory when placed together? Can business be conducted ethically? A Blueprint for a Better Business asks businesses to consider ’purpose’, ’people’ and ’profit’. Profit is not the only consideration!

 

A Blueprint for a Better Business came about in 2011 when a group of senior business leaders approached the Archbishop of Westminster. These business leaders were convinced that the principles of Christian moral and social teaching, and in particular the tradition of Roman Catholic Social Teaching, could help bring about much needed change in business. Ever since, they have been active in encouraging businesses, large and small, to consider their social purpose and how employees can connect their personal plurality with professional duties and career progression.

 

  1. Would you agree that a business needs to make a profit, but that making a profit is not the purpose of business?
  2. What questions would you put to the Director of A Blueprint for a Better Business?
  3. Imagine you were CEO of a business. Describe what sort of business and then list the five ethical issues that you would expect to be the most challenging.

 

 

One of the modules you might have the option to tackle is named ‘Big Questions in Science and Religion’, which will explore classic questions at the interface of science and religion through a problem-solving approach. So here’s a sneak preview of the first problem, which is to design a manned (personned?) mission to Mars. It might be fun to check out some websites on that, and/or read some of Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent science-fiction trilogy Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars. Of course, C.S Lewis’s hero also goes to Mars in Out of the Silent Planet

 

For some BBC radio content on religion and science (and space!), have a listen to these:

Space in Religion and Science

Science and Religion

 

Enjoy!

Summer Resources for Year 13s: Edition Two – Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible and New Testament)

Welcome to the second blogpost of summer resources! As I said in the previous post, this is a collection of resources we in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter have put together to give you a few things to mull over while you are waiting to start studying Theology and Religion. This post is focused on Biblical Studies, both Hebrew Bible and New Testament. When you’re your first year at Exeter you will study two modules which both combine analysis of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament: ‘Introduction to Histories and Literatures of the Bible’, and ‘The Bible: Past and Present’. Enjoy!

 

To get started here are the three episodes that make up a BBC documentary series called The Bible’s Buried Secrets presented by our very own Prof Francesca Stavakopoulou:

Episode 1:

Did King David’s Empire Exist?

Episode 2:

Did God have a Wife?

Episode 3:

The Real Garden of Eden

The second episode is particularly useful for ‘The Bible: Past and Present’.

If you’re interested in looking at the archaeological evidence that tells what Jesus might have looked like this YouTube video is really interesting: Joan E. Taylor – What Did Jesus Look Like?

 

Joan Taylor has also made a documentary with another biblical scholar, Helen Bond, about Jesus’s female disciples: The traditional story of the birth of Christianity is dominated by men, but were female disciples crucial to Jesus’ mission? And why has the role those women played disappeared from history? Bible experts and historians Helen Bond and Joan Taylor take to the road to find out. You can find Jesus’ Female Disciples: The New Evidence on Box of Broadcasts (log in with your school details).

 

If art is where you’re at, the Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) is a freely accessible online publication that provides theological commentary on the Bible in dialogue with works of art. Have a look around the exhibitions on www.thevcs.org. This resource may also be helpful for ‘The Bible: Past and Present’.

 

 

 

If you fancy listening to a few BBC podcasts with a cup of tea and a biscuit here are a few you might enjoy:

New Testament:

Mary Magdalene

Paul

Josephus

 

Hebrew Bible:

King Solomon

The Devil

The Fall

 

One major and excellent resource is the Bible Odyssey site produced by the Society for Biblical Literature, a US-based international society for scholars in biblical studies and related areas. The site contains short articles, videos, and resources produced by scholars in the field.

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/

Among many interesting entries, to shape your early study of the origins of Christianity and the New Testament texts, you could begin by looking at these entries:

Jesus, Paul, Peter, early Christian converts, synoptic problem, Pauline letters and the gospels, women in early Christianity.

Once you’ve begun to find your way around the site, you will find lots more items to pique your interest!

 

If you just want to read a good old fashioned book then short introductions are a good way to begin your entry into this subject area, for example:

Luke Timothy Johnson, The New Testament: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2011).

It is also available as an audiobook!

Summer Resources for Year 13s: Edition One – Christian Beliefs and History

Welcome! This is the first blogpost in a three part series of stimulating resources to whet your appetite over the summer for your Theology and Religion degree. Everyone here in the Theology and Religion Department at the University of Exeter is hoping that you are all well during this very bizarre time of year – a time when you all thought you would have been revising for and sitting A Level exams prior to a summer spent outdoors. Because we know some of you might well be feeling anxious about coming to university, or you may just be eager to start thinking about Theology and Religion in lieu of revising for your exams, these blogposts are going to give you a ‘menu’ of options to explore and peruse. This post is focused on Christian beliefs and history, while subsequent blogposts will be on Biblical Studies, and Religion, Philosophy and Ethics. We hope you enjoy these resources, and we look forward to meeting you at the start of term!

 

Here are some BBC radio programmes and podcasts to get stuck into while you’re doing the dishes:

On Calvinism

John Calvin, a Frenchman exiled to Geneva, was hugely influential in the 16th century Reformation of the Christian Church. He was a writer, popular preacher and biblical scholar, whose works were spread far and wide through the new technology of printing. His theology and his distinctive ideas about how to organise church communities spread rapidly across Europe, and on to the New World in America. One of Calvin’s most striking ideas was ‘predestination’: the idea that, even before the world began, God had already decided which human beings would be damned, and which saved.

 

 

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed was the result of one of Christianity’s first public and universal church councils—called to debate the ideas of a controversial theologian called Arius. Arius was condemned as a heretic for his claim that Jesus Christ was inferior to God the Father. These debates at Nicaea and afterwards led to the development of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A version of the Nicene Creed is still said at many modern acts of Christian worship. This podcast will be particularly useful in preparation for our first-year core module, THE1103 Introducing Christian Theologies, where you’ll study some key Christian doctrines and beliefs.

 

The Trinity

Here is a related video made by the University of Nottingham: “Why study Arius of Alexandria?”

Augustine’s Confessions – See also this YouTube video about studying Augustine at University (created by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham).

 

The North African theologian Augustine has been one of the most significant figures in Christian theology—for example, for his ideas about creation, sin, salvation and love. But his autobiographical work, the Confessions, also had a deep influence on Western literature: it has shaped the way in which people think and write about themselves. In this podcast, one of our lecturers, Morwenna Ludlow, debates the Confessions with Melvyn Bragg, Kate Cooper and Martin Palmer.  Morwenna teaches a module on Augustine’s Confessions for 2nd and 3rd year students.

 

St Thomas Aquinas: Another hugely influential thinker in the Christian tradition, especially important for Catholicism. Philosopher, theologian and ethicist, known for his arguments about the existence of God, the nature of human morality and specific ethical problems like the justice of going to war.

 

Hope: – one of our lecturers writes: “Hope might seem like a rather abstract concept, but this fascinating discussion made me think about it all over again. It raises big questions about our attitudes to ourselves, the future and uncertainty—immensely relevant to today.”

Purgatory – The idea that there might be a temporary place of cleansing or reform after death gradually developed from very hazy ideas in the 2nd century to the carefully-imagined system portrayed in the poet Dante’s Purgatorio. While hell was permanent, purgatory offered the hope of moving on to heaven. But the idea, and the practices associated with it, such as praying for the dead and the possession of holy relics, became increasingly controversial and purgatory was one of the contested topics at the heart of the Protestant Reformation.  This podcast would be especially relevant to one of our 2nd and 3rd year modules: “Heaven and Hell throughout the Ages”.

 

Here are some videos to watch to introduce you to some key areas of Christian belief and history:

 

If you have access to Box of Broadcasts through your schools these programmes are worth watching:

 

A History of Christianity

In the first of a six-part series sweeping across four continents, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch goes in search of Christianity’s forgotten origins.

 

Lost Kingdoms of Africa

This episode explore the rich ancient culture of Ethiopia which officially adopted Christianity in 333, around the same time as Christianity was officially tolerated inside the Roman Empire. It shows that ancient Christianity was by no means simply a religion of the Roman Empire.

 

Here are some other YouTube videos made by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham that will help set the scene before you come to study at University:

“Why study asceticism [Mary Cunningham]”

“Why study Mary, Mother of God”

 

If you fancy reading something to get your academic juices flowing then why not take a look at the University of Exeter’s very own undergraduate Theology and Religion journal, The Key?

 

In some of your studies you’ll start to look at different approaches and perspectives on Theology, such as postcolonialism. For a nice introduction have a look at these YouTube videos on Colonialism and Postcolonialism.

Robert Beckford’s 2016 documentary The Battle for Christianity is useful on sociological shifts in Christianity in Britain. It also covers secularization, immigration, and imperialism.

The BBC documentary series Empire, presented by Jeremy Paxman,  is useful on the history of links between mission and empire

There is a great TedEd documentary on religion in art. Before we began putting art into museums, art mostly served as the visual counterpart to religious stories. Are these theological paintings, sculptures, textiles and illuminations from centuries ago still relevant to us?

 

Be sure to have a look at our next blogpost on Biblical Studies!

 

Enjoy!

 

Why Should A-Level Geography Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Prof David Horrell, whose first degree was in Geography, asks, “Why should A-Level Geography students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

During one of our family debates over an evening meal recently, we were discussing the relative merits of studying Geography or History (one of my teenage children prefers Geography, the other History). “History’s all done”, one said. “But Geography’s all over the place”, was the response. And, in a sense, it is, since what basically gives Geography its focus as a discipline is the study of how things are distributed over space. That includes such things as the movements of people and goods in international trade, the complex flows of resources between countries, the ways in which climate change will impact differently on different places and the people in them, the differential health outcomes of those who live in diverse locations, urban and rural, and so on.

Study any of these complex spatial interactions and you will quickly bump up against questions of ethics and the impact of religion in the modern world. What are the impacts of multinational corporations in various countries, and do consumers in comparatively richer countries benefit from the exploitation of manual workers in comparatively poorer countries? What kind of rules of trade, taxation, and labour rights would help make these systems just and fair – and who defines what counts as fair? How far are geopolitical conflicts and international disputes driven or exacerbated by the different religious traditions and affiliations of different nations or peoples?

The study of Theology and Religion offers the opportunity to understand and reflect on some of the issues that are fundamental to these contemporary challenges. For example, at the University of Exeter, our first year Theology and Religion students learn about some of the ethical traditions that inform ideas about justice and fairness – and put these into practice by studying something like the fashion industry, and the international movements that take place to bring us the garments we wear.

In studies on blasphemy and offence in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, students have the opportunity to consider how and why contemporary societies treat certain things as sacred, how this changes over time, and how religious and secular bodies clash over such matters. Studying postcolonial theology, to take another example, helps students to see how people from previously colonized countries articulate distinctive perspectives on the world – perspectives from the oppressed and exploited, on the “underside” of empire.

In modules on the Bible, as well as learning about ancient languages, texts, and historical contexts, students come to understand how the Bible continues to be regarded as sacred text and sacred object, how its interpretation continues to be visible and influential even in an increasingly secular country like Britain, how it shapes our views of abled and disabled, and so on. In modules on religious art and architecture, students explore concepts of sacred space and the impact of human activity on urban and rural landscapes.

Each discipline brings its own kind of contribution to understanding the major challenges of the contemporary world. Indeed, if I were trying to resolve our mealtime debate, I’d insist that both History and Geography, time and space, past and present, are crucial if we are to understand the way the world is today. An equally crucial part of understanding our world is to know about the religious traditions that shape ethical decisions, political perspectives, international conflicts, and personal morality.

Studying Theology and Religion – with the ethical and philosophical traditions included under that umbrella – equips graduates with a deep understanding of where ethical traditions come from, how scriptures and religious traditions shape convictions about right and wrong, and about the value and status of the human in the world. This range of skills can be put to excellent use in a wide range of jobs, and graduates in Theology and Religion can make a distinctive contribution, especially in a world where sensitive, informed, and critical understanding of religion is all too rare.

Why Should A-Level English Lit Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Prof Louise Lawrence asks, “Why should A-Level English Literature students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

Doing A-Level English Literature has, through story, prose, poetry and drama, given you some insight into how different writers communicate ambitions, fears, values and worldviews. It would not be an understatement to claim that comprehension of most Western literature (as well as film, art, architecture, music, politics and culture) is impossible without some competence in theology and religion.

A Theology and Religion degree will allow you to study and critically interrogate the Bible as literature: there is tragedy, family tension, incest, adultery, treachery, trauma, political intrigue, nation-building and destruction, violence, satire, adoration, anguish and revenge within its pages. Scholars of Theology and Religion also engage a wide variety of critical lenses through which this and other texts are variously interpreted: literary; historical; postcolonial; feminist; queer; liberation; disability; trauma, and many more. You might explore how novels, films and other media communicate shifting understandings of sexuality, ability, ethnicity and other identities in conversation with religion. You might interrogate how theological and religious discourse conceals, reveals and transmits competing ideas of power, authority, ideology and control.

Theology and Religion also equips you to trace the ways in which Western and postcolonial literatures (and other cultural forms) variously use, respond to and/or subvert biblical themes/images/texts/characters within their own eras and contexts. How, for example, does a first world war poet such as Wilfred Owen reframe the story in Genesis in which God demands Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac in his The Parable of the Old Man and the Young? How does this compare with receptions of the same biblical text in writings of Holocaust survivors, or activists in the anti-Vietnam war movement?

In a Theology and Religion degree you will develop skills as an articulate, creative and compelling author in your own right. In the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter our assessments use a variety of media beyond the traditional essay – though your previous experience in essay-writing for English will certainly stand you in good stead. They include short journalistic pieces or wikis (online postings); extended project pieces comprising creative portfolios (in the past these have included ‘virtual’ letters from historical or contemporary characters; autobiographical pieces; reflective journal entries; and advertisement and artefact commentaries designed for public use); and the research dissertation, an independent project of 10-12,000 words. Recent dissertation topics at Exeter have included religious imagery in Gothic horror; theology in children’s literature; charismatic Christianity and theatre; artistic depictions of Dante’s Divine Comedy; theology in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen; and postcolonial feminist critiques of the doctrine of atonement.

Theology and Religion affords you opportunities to explore themes of translation, interpretation, concealment, and literature as tool for political liberation. Our graduates go on to a diverse set of careers including journalism, international development, social work, education, the third sector, public policy, law, and the civil service.

 

Why Should A-Level Philosophy Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Dr Jonathan Hill asks, “Why should A-Level Philosophy students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

What attracted you to philosophy? For a lot of people, it’s the prospect of grappling with some of the biggest questions imaginable. What is the meaning of life? What is most valuable in life? Is there life after death? Is there a God? Why is there suffering?

https://physioguru.com/index.php/physiotherapy-blog/research-physiotherapy-blog/50-understanding-research-philosophy-a-primer

In A-Level Philosophy you may have encountered questions like these and want to pursue them in more depth. One of the best ways of doing this is by studying Theology and Religion – because all of those questions are part of Philosophy of Religion, and a degree in Theology and Religion actually offers more opportunity to study them than a degree in Philosophy does. Philosophy is a very broad subject, covering not just these religious and existential questions but also questions about language, politics, ethics, metaphysics, mind, science, and so on. So most Philosophy degrees devote relatively little time to the “big questions”. A Theology and Religion degree is much more focused on them, and it can include a lot of philosophy too.

At the University of Exeter, our BA honours in Theology and Religion offers you the opportunity to study Philosophy of Religion throughout your three years. It ranges from introductory modules in the first year to more in-depth studies of the history of philosophy and theology, as well as the philosophical study of Christian doctrines, in the later years.

What will you get out of this? An obvious answer is: the ability to assess critically the kinds of claims we hear constantly – from religious preachers, from politicians, from newspapers, from our friends – about religion and its relation to society and ourselves. But more than that, you will also gain insight into the thinking of people you disagree with. A degree in Theology and Religion gives you the opportunity to study a wide range of beliefs and understand why people hold them. In doing so, you will develop your ability to empathise with those who hold different views from yourself, and that is an increasingly rare and valuable skill.

Why Should A-Level Sociology Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Dr Susannah Cornwall asks, “Why should A-Level Sociology students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

At a time when over 80 per cent of the world’s population identifies as having a faith, religion is not a topic any thinking person can afford to dismiss. Scholars of theology and religion are particularly interested in context. What difference does social location make to how we read and interpret sacred texts, novels, films, poetry, lyrics, political treatises, and other texts? What motivates people to belong to faith communities? How do expressions of religion vary according to time and culture? Should religious education be taught in state schools? How does religious heritage continue to shape our society today? Is the world becoming increasingly secularized?

Pope Francis leaves an audience with religious from around the world in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Sept. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A degree in Theology and Religion gives you the chance to interact critically with a wide range of texts, drawing on a host of theoretical and methodological approaches. You might explore how queer critical theory influences understandings of sacred texts; or how postcolonial studies shape critical accounts of the relationships between religion, economics and empire; or how feminist approaches prompt re-examinations of religious texts and the Christian theological canon. You might use social-scientific approaches to find out about the cultures in which the earliest biblical texts were produced.

Our students write dissertations on topics such as Muslim identity in modern Britain; uses of religious imagery in alt-right rhetoric; new religious movements; understandings of spirit possession in cross-cultural settings; the new atheism; and the interactions between civil religion, law, economics and the public sphere. They receive training in public speaking and presentation skills that allow them to communicate effectively with a wide range of audiences.

Theology and Religion at Exeter allows you to undertake research that trains you to reflect critically on your own and other contexts. As a discipline, Theology and Religion draws on and interacts with fields such as sociology, anthropology, gender studies, and critical theory. Some of our undergraduate students devise their own research projects, and receive support to go through an ethical approval process and carry out qualitative research. Recent projects have focused on topics such as Christianity and eating disorders; trauma and sexual abuse; religious affiliation among university students; and food insecurity.

Our graduates go on to work in careers such as social work, journalism, international development, education, law and social policy. Consider developing your critical skills with us, and work out what you want to know about our world and what goes on in it.

Why Should A-Level Science Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Prof Christopher Southgate, who originally trained as a research biochemist, asks, “Why should A-Level Science students consider Theology and Religion at university?”

The natural sciences that you have been learning disclose in astonishing detail how the universe works, from the first femtosecond after the Big Bang to its probable end in a ‘heat death’. They also show how life functions, including all the intricate chemical and biological processes that keep your own body flourishing from minute to minute.

A Theology and Religion-based degree at Exeter gives you the chance to explore, in the company of cutting-edge scholars in a whole range of fields, what existence and flourishing mean. Human beings have been wondering this since we first evolved, and human history is in part a history of the narratives by which we have explained our existence and our nature, our selfishness and capacity for love.

In the Department of Theology and Religion at Exeter, consistently highly-rated both for research and student satisfaction, you would have the chance to explore those narratives through the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of which answer those great questions in related but different ways. The narratives of our origin and importance as humans lead naturally to the question: ‘how then should I live?’, which we take up through the study of ethics.

Specifically, Exeter offers modules across the Theology and Religion degree programme exploring the relation between the sciences and religious claims. How did modern science emerge from the dominantly religious culture of Renaissance Europe? How does it change Christianity when we start to take science seriously? What does it mean that we are both evolved animals and creatures ‘capable of God’?

In the past that last question has tended to be answered historically by looking at Galileo and Darwin – fascinating case-studies in themselves. But a far more vital case of the interaction of the sciences with theology and ethics comes in relation to climate change. What the science says, why some refuse to believe it, and what it means for how we should live can be explored intensively at a university which, through its association with the Met Office here at Exeter, is one of the leading centres in the world for climate science.

Every year up to a quarter of your study can be outside your home department. So insights from all sorts of subjects can be brought to bear on these fundamental questions of meaning. The rigorous training of thought acquired through science A-Levels is an excellent basis for starting this exploration, and we at Theology and Religion at Exeter would be delighted to have the chance to accompany you on that great search.

Why Should A-Level Economic and Business Studies Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this first post, Prof Esther Reed asks, “Why should A-Level Economics and Business Studies students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

How many company websites have you visited recently? How many have ethics statements? How many businesses that operate in many and diverse countries talk in their sustainability policy statements about generating good relationships with local communities?

Every good business with transnational reach is challenged today to maintain high ethical standards, to listen to the communities amidst and with which it works, and to meet ever-growing consumer demand for information about performance in these respects.

Image: World map color-coded to denote major religion affiliations (as of 2011) CC BY 3.0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_ groups#/media/File:World_religions_map_en.svg

A degree programme in Theology and Religion could help to prepare you for the workplace and make you a useful employee. In addition to honed research, writing, critical-thinking and presentation skills, Theology and Religion can provide you with a knowledge base and skill set with many applications in businesses – large and small – that need to maintain high ethical and working standards.

A degree in Theology and Religion could help you think about the value of work, wealth creation, financial integrity, the meaning of common good, enterprise, responsible credit and savings, ethics in the corporate culture, social inequality, principles for an economic ethic today, the moral limits of markets, and more. Write a dissertation on economics and responsible business practices today!

Analyse for yourself whether too few businesses are religiously literate today – whether at headquarters or working in small communities. Millions of people around the world profess a religion and are influenced in day-to-day decision making by their faith. A Theology and Religion degree could help you become a business leaders of the future with a difference; a business leader with a basic understanding of major world faiths.

Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter is committed to equipping young business leaders of the future to understand the power of religion, its significant force across the world, how major religions are internally diverse and culturally embedded, and why improved religious literacy is good for business.