Religious Studies (with Foundation Year)
UCAS Code: Combined Honours only – see combinations tab|Duration: 4 years|Full Time|Hope Park
UCAS Campus Code: L46
Work placement opportunities|International students can apply|Study Abroad opportunities
About the course
Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope explores the practice and significance of religion in contemporary society through the study of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, African religious traditions, and Indic traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. A balance between the study of religious texts and lived religion in the contemporary world is maintained throughout the degree. Religious Studies pays close attention to what supporters of these religions think, do, and believe, and explores the very real differences that exist between various groups within each faith.
Throughout your studies, you will analyse and contextualise the thinking behind key religions to appreciate their history, spirituality, and their relevance to the social and political landscape. All of our teaching is research-informed and you will be taught by highly-qualified academics, all of whom have a PhD in the area, who are both active and published researchers and committed teachers. We work hard to provide top-quality educational opportunities for all our students, and the Department has recently invested heavily in learning resources; combined library holdings in Theology and Religion are now in excess of 100,000 volumes.
Above all, the Religious Studies degree treats religions as lived faiths by looking at the way that they are followed in Britain and across the globe today. You acquire skills in the different methods of studying religion. The degree examines profound questions of faith and life in ways that are intellectually challenging, illuminating, and engaging. By drawing out the complex issues that surround religious belief and expression, the degree equips you to engage with the pressing questions of our time and to play your part in promoting religious and social harmony.
Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, where all students are taught together, seminars of smaller groups of around 15-20 students, and tutorials which typically have no more than 10 students. You also have the opportunity to have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor each week.
For the Religious Studies part of your Combined Honours degree, in your first year of study there are approximately 6 teaching hours each week, which reduces to approximately 5 teaching hours each week in your second and third years. On top of teaching hours, you are also expected to spend a number of hours studying independently each week, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any group assessments you may have.
Assessment and feedback
Throughout your three years of study you will have a number of assessments, including written exams, essays, case studies and portfolios. Depending on choices you make in your third year, assessments may also include textual analysis, fieldwork reports and literature reviews.
You will receive your feedback via the University’s Virtual Online Learning Environment (Moodle), and you are also welcome to discuss the feedback with your tutors.
The Foundation Year is a great opportunity if you have the ability and enthusiasm to study for a degree, but do not yet have the qualifications required to enter directly onto our degree programmes. A significant part of the Foundation Year focuses upon core skills such as academic writing at HE level, becoming an independent learner, structuring academic work, critical thinking, time management and note taking.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year will enable you to progress into the first year (Level C) of your chosen honours degree. Further details can be found here.
Introduction to the Study of Religion
This unit covers the main theories of religion, key ideas and themes (sacred texts, myth, ritual, sacred objects), questions such as the insider/outsider debate, religion and identity, as well as key theorists in the study of religion (for example, Emile Durkheim, Rudolf Otto, Mircea Eliade, Max Weber, William James and Clifford Geertz).
African Traditional Religion
This unit introduces you to some of the key aspects of the study of religion through the lens of the traditional religions of Africa. You will explore how ritual behaviour, myths, song, dance and the creation of religious artefacts come together to express people's understanding of the world and of themselves as communities. We use one of the great classics of African Literature, Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart to enter into a world that is very different to the religions that are generally studied at A-Level.
Introduction to Islam
The course aims to introduce students to the contemporary study of Islam. It begins by covering matters to do with the origins of Islam, the Quran and the tradition-literature. It goes on to consider Sunni and Shi’i traditions, and the institution of Sufism, theology and jurisprudence. Throughout, consideration is given to contemporary relevance of the early articulations of Islam.
Introduction to Judaism
Is Judaism a religion, an ethnicity, or a culture? This unit introduces students to Judaism in its rich and varied traditions and history, as well as contemporary practice. The themes covered in this course include the authoritative writings of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible, the Mishnah and the Talmud); the essentials of Jewish belief; the Jewish calendar, rituals and feasts; Messianism; gender; Zionism and the State of Israel.
Introduction to Hinduism
Hinduism is one of humanity's ancient and complex religious traditions. This unit helps students to navigate the rich ideas, texts and images of Hinduism by discussing a number of key dimensions, particularly through the study of text and imagery. The course discusses the concept of Brahman as One and Many and the broad traditions of ?aivism, Vai??avism and ??ktism along with their religious literature. We also consider Dharma and society - looking particularly at notions of Caste as Var?a and J?ti. We will explore Hindu philosophy - looking especially at M?m??s? and Ved?nta. Finally, the unit discusses the revitalisation of Hinduism in India today.
Religion and Violence in Liverpool
This unit focuses on Liverpool and its often violent religious past. The themes covered include the slave trade, the religious arguments used for and against slavery in Liverpool, the impact of emigration from Ireland on the religious landscape of the city, and the roots of the 1909 Liverpool sectarian riots. A guided walk through the historic centre of Liverpool with a focus on the traces of the slave trade is an integral part of this course.
Religious Ethics and Spirituality
Can religious commands ever be unethical? With this question in mind, this course examines important ethical issues and theories in Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and secular traditions. In doing so, we explore the often neglected relationship between ethics and spirituality, as well as asking whether there is anything distinctively ‘religious’ about ‘religious ethics’. Throughout the course, we examine specific case studies and controversial issues such as sacrifice, sexuality and gender, the holocaust, jihad and radicalization, environmental ethics, forgiveness, and the problem of evil.
In this course Christianity, a thoroughly global faith, is studied from a global point of view, examining diverse ritual practices, behaviours, beliefs and customs. Students will engage with film representations of Jesus, modern popular literature and music which draws its metaphors and imagery from Christian thought. The course delves into the agreements about belief but also the ethical divergences across traditions and cultures, particularly related to sex and gender, abortion, feminism, and stances to war.
This course offers an introduction to Buddhism, but is taught in a way that allows students to look at any specific area in depth and detail. We begin by looking at who Siddhartha Gautama (the historical Buddha) was and what he did, before exploring various key areas of Buddhism. These include: The Four Noble Truths; the meaning of no-self (Anatta); the nature and significance of liberation (focusing on Nirvana), the schisms that occurred after the Buddha’s death; the various schools that have resulted, namely, Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana; the notion of emptiness (Sunyata) and suchness (Tathata), before ending with a study of Zen Buddhism.
Islamic law and society
One of the great Western scholars of Islamic law, Joseph Schacht, argued that a clearly Islamic system of law began to form only after the Umayyads came to power; subsequently, under the Abbasids, Islamic law became a rigid theoretical structure. It was gradually recognized, Schacht argued, that by about the 10th century all important juristic questions had been posed and resolved, marking the closing of the doors of independent reasoning; this theoretical rigidity poses immense problems for modern jurists trying to reform Islamic law. Every aspect of Schacht’s account is now questioned in light of Islamic law’s adaptability to different societal contexts in particular. The course examines how Islamic law engages questions of politics, gender and its application within Western civil legal system. It also explores the differences between Shi’ism and Sunnism and how that is reflected in Iran today.
Your second year Tutorials will focus on critical analysis of various chapters from the Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies.
Islamic political thought
This course allows students to read and interpret primary sources in translation that reflect the main three genres of writings on political theory in medieval Islam: Legal, literary and philosophical. It also explores how the classical texts inform, or do not inform, the rise of contemporary political Islam.
Judaism in the Shadow of the Shoah (Holocaust)
Where was God in the holocaust (Shoah)? Who was God in the Shoah? Such questions remain profoundly challenging for Jewish belief, thought, practice, and identity. In this course, we examine ways in which Jewish thinkers, artists, and writers have responded to the horrors of the Shoah by both appealing to tradition and striving towards the future. In particular, we explore the rise of Holocaust Theology and the revival of interest in Jewish mysticism (kabbalah). We reflect on ways in which these two important modern trends interact, as Jewish thinkers draw on mystical ideas in their search for meaning in the shadow of the Shoah.
Islamic Sufism (mysticism)
In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, it was common to think of Sufism as a non-essential part of Islam – mysticism was thought to be foreign to Semitic religious sensibility. Scholarly consensus since the seminal work of Massignon is united in rejecting this assumption but exploring why the assumption is wrong and how it came to be rejected is instructive. The course explores these questions as it looks at Ghazali’s pivotal role in synthesizing Sufi ideas with other sources of knowledge in Islam as he provides a broad definition of Islamic Orthodoxy.
Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation
You will also engage with the broader theme of Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation, critically evaluating key points of conflict around the world and the role that religions play in cultivating tensions and resolutions. A moment’s reflection attests that religion and violence are often woven together in history’s tapestries. Any number of religions have justified violence under certain circumstances, and others have become caught up in its processes. The course looks at various contexts in the world to assess the relevance of engaging religion for the coherence of societies and pursuit of peace even when conflict is associated with religious sensitivities.
This level also provides students with an opportunity to pursue a theme related to the programme through a substantial independent research project led by the student working with a supervisor.
There may be some flexibility for mature students offering non-tariff qualifications and students meeting particular widening participation criteria.
Religious Studies equips you to enter a range of careers. It prepares you to go on to become a religious education teacher at a primary or secondary level through the study of a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which is offered at Liverpool Hope University.
The interaction between different religions in the global arena and the complex social and political implications mean that you will be equipped with the knowledge to take forward a career in areas such as politics, media, international relations and social work.
Many students also undertake further studies. In addition to the PCGE, there is the opportunity to undertake a range of Master programmes at Liverpool Hope in Theology and Religious Studies, including Religious Education.
The Service and Leadership Award (SALA) is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.
As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.
The tuition fees for the 2024/25 academic year are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.
If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.
The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.
As well as your tuition fees, you also need approximately £100 to purchase key text books.
You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation pages for further details about our Halls of Residence.
We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.
International tuition fees
The International Tuition fees for 2024/25 are £12,500.
Visit our International fees page for more information.
This course is only available with Foundation Year as a Combined Honours degree with the following subjects: