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The University of Southampton

PHIL2037 Philosophy of Religion

Module Overview

Can there be a proof that God exists? Or might phenomena such as suffering serve to show that an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being cannot exist? Such questions are central to the philosophy of religion; attempting to answer them leads us to reflect on such topics as the character of religious belief, its relation with science and morality, the place of reason in religion, and the meaning of religious language. This module will explore some of these questions and the issues they raise. It is possible to undertake this module successfully without having completed the first year module, Faith and Reason. However, this module can be seen as building on that one. The subject matter of the second year module will be more advanced and will be explored in greater depth.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide a critical introduction to the concepts, theories and arguments used in contemporary philosophy of religion.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • some of the central questions in philosophy of religion, and competing answers to these questions
  • central arguments that have been offered for and against these answers.
  • how the issues you explore in this module relate to those in other modules (e.g. Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ethics of Belief)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • interpret, synthesise and criticise complex texts and positions.
  • present ideas in writing, clearly and carefully.
  • debate and criticise ideas and arguments in an even-handed fashion.
  • articulate and defend your own views regarding the issues the module concerns.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes from talks and written materials.
  • contribute to discussion in a critical but dispassionate way.
  • express views clearly and concisely.


The syllabus for this module may vary from year to year. It may include topics such as: - Arguments for the existence of God - Arguments against the existence of God - The nature of religious belief - Free will and divine foreknowledge - The soul and the afterlife

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending classes - Contributing to class discussion - Doing independent research for and writing assessed essays and exams

Wider reading or practice24
Follow-up work24
Completion of assessment task22
Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

B Davies (2004). An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. 

J L Mackie (1983). The Miracle of Theism. 

R Swinburne (2004). The Existence of God. 

L. Wittgenstein (1970). Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary  (1000 words) 40%
Exam  (90 minutes) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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