Philosophy of Religion (Online)

Course summary

Philosophy of Religion (Online)



Overview

If you’re interested in delving into the philosophical issues and arguments surrounding the claim that there’s a God, then this is the course for you. Together, we shall look at what, if anything, it is that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are agreeing about when they claim that there is a God; and we shall look at what, if any, prospects there are for rationally defending or attacking this claim.

Listen to Dr Tim Mawson talking about the course:

As a student, you will be helped to engage in various activities to stimulate personal reflection; be guided in your reading of some important philosophical texts; find challenge and support as you participate in group discussions; and – above all – be encouraged to think for yourself about the issues raised and arguments deployed. By the end of the course, you should feel more (justifiably) confident in the defensibility of your religious beliefs (or lack of them).

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  • Introduction – Reason and the Philosophy of Religion.
  • The Concept of God: An introduction to the classical theistic concept of God as a being who is necessarily personal, transcendent, immanent, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, perfectly free, perfectly good, and necessary; and non-essentially creator of the world and value; revealer of Himself; and offerer of everlasting life. A detailed discussion of each of these properties and the philosophical issues that they raise with a view to determining the overall coherence (or lack of it) and simplicity (or lack of it) of the classical theistic concept of God.
  • Arguing For and Against the Existence of God: A discussion of whether or not belief or the absence of belief in such a God might be the sort of thing that does not rationally require argument and, if not, what the criteria for a good argument for or against such a God’s existence might be. A discussion of the main arguments for and against the existence of God: the Argument to Design; the Cosmological Argument; the Ontological Argument; the Argument from Religious Experience; and the Argument from Apparent Miracles.
  • Conclusion: A discussion of the nature and role (if any) of faith and Pascal’s Wager. An opportunity for each student to discuss what (if anything) he or she feels he or she has gained from the course.

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
 

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following textbook:

  • Mawson, T. J., Belief in God (OUP, Oxford, 2005) ISBN 0199284954

You can, if you wish, purchase this textbook directly from Oxford University Press.

Certification

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

More information on CATS points

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Fees

EU Fee: £260.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00

Tutors

Mrs Sarah Pawlett Jackson

Course aims

This course aims to facilitate students in thinking clearly about the following questions: What, if anything, is it that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are agreeing about when they join in claiming that there is a God; and what, if any, prospects are there for rationally defending or attacking this claim?

Course Objectives

  • Introduce students to philosophical thinking in the British Analytical Tradition, particularly as it applies to topics in the Philosophy of Religion.
  • Familiarise students with the key arguments for and against the main positions in the debate about the existence of the classical theistic God.
  • Enable students to think clearly and for themselves about these issues, increasing their understanding of their own religious beliefs (if any) and those of others.

Teaching methods

There will be guided reading of texts and students will be directed to various online resources, including some interactive ones. The main online teaching and learning activity will be the discussion forums, where students gather in their ‘cyber agora’ to be gadflies to one another (in the nicest possible way).

Students will be directed to websites (occasionally as a requirement, otherwise as an optional extra) that have relevant material on a topic-by-topic basis. Students will be encouraged to use the Stanford Online Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to understand the main issues and arguments relevant to the classical theistic concept of God; the main arguments for and against the existence of such a being; and, at least better than they did at the start, their own religious beliefs (or lack of them).

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained or improved their ability to:

  • Describe the main arguments for and against the main positions in the Philosophy of Religion.
  • Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of these positions and critically to assess these arguments.
  • Defend their own answer to the question of whether or not there’s a God of the sort Jews, Christians and Muslims worship.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Application

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.