MA Christian Spirituality Modules

Both core modules in the MA in Christian Spirituality run every year with optional modules running every other year in rotation.

All of our MA modules are open to all, so anyone may enrol in a module as an “auditorwithout registering for the full MA programme. An auditor participates in a module in exactly the same way as students on the MA, but does not prepare an essay at the end of it.

See all forthcoming modules in the MA in Christian Spirituality

Core Modules

Foundations and Forms of Christian Spirituality

The module will introduce students to the nature of Spirituality in the Christian tradition until the end of the eighteenth century. It will look at a number of spiritual traditions within Christianity and enable students to place them in their historical and philosophical contexts. Students will become aware of the problems we face in matters of interpretation when dealing with classical spiritual texts and will be encouraged to apply a range of interpretative methods to the texts they are introduced to.

The Nature of Contemporary Spirituality

The module will introduce students to the nature of Spirituality in the Christian tradition from the nineteenth century to the present day. Students will investigate the proliferation of Christian spiritualities in this period and consider the impact of modernism, postmodernity, feminism and political theology on contemporary conceptions of Christian Spirituality. Students will also investigate the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of academic responses to Christian Spirituality (in relation to literature, psychology, film etc), and the extent to which they extend the taxonomy of the discipline.

Optional Modules

Medieval Spirituality

This module will encourage students to evaluate Western Medieval schools of Spirituality. It will examine the role of women in this period and evaluate their contribution to the Mysticism and politics of the period. Students will be encouraged to assess the impact of the Crusades on the ongoing relationship of Islam and Christianity. The module will highlight the legacy of this period to the Churches in our day.

Western Christian Mysticism

This module gives students an overview of the historical development of the Western Christian Mystical tradition, and identifies and analyses key historical figures and movements within that tradition. Students will be encouraged to examine both apophatic and cataphatic strands of Western Mysticism. Aspects of the English strand of the tradition will be explored as well as that of that Continental writers.

Celtic Spirituality

This module enables students to gain a critical understanding of current invocations and retrievals of Celtic Spirituality. Students will be able to engage with notions of the development of spiritual traditions and the political impact of those developments. The Celtic insights into sacred space, nature, time, place, grace and eschatology will be investigated in order to enable students to have a clear understanding of the differences between Celtic and Anglo-Saxon traditions.

Contemporary Christian Spirituality

This module will enable students to critically evaluate relationships between Christian Spirituality and non-Christian spiritualities. Students will be introduced to the important role that Platonic and other philosophical traditions within antiquity played in shaping Christian Spirituality and explore ways in which non-Christian traditions continue to re-shape and challenge classical notions of Christian Spirituality in 3 contemporary settings. Students will also examine the subjective turn and the challenge presented by New Age and other contrasting spiritualities. The module will also allow students to reflect on the import of inter-religious dialogue for contemporary conceptions of Spirituality in general and Christian Spirituality in particular.

Embodying Wisdom: Philosophical and Psychological Approaches to Christian Spirituality

This module will introduce students to key philosophical and psychological issues of the last 100 years that have shaped contemporary understandings of Spirituality. Students will be encouraged to examine contemporary concepts of ‘experience’ and ‘self’ in the light of some seminal thinkers of the twentieth century, whose works can be directly related to issues of religious subjectivity. Students will also be enabled to assess the impact of the work of Carl Jung on Christian thought and practice, including in pastoral care and spiritual direction.

Pastoral Ministry and Christian Spiritual Direction

This module enables students to explore approaches to pastoral ministry and spiritual direction within the Christian tradition. It presents them with different models of pastoral care and encourages them to reflect theologically on these models, placing them in their historical context. Students will explore issues of particular concern for pastoral ministry in the contemporary context and engage with non-theological disciplines that provide pastoral care. Students will be introduced to different approaches to spiritual direction within the Christian tradition. They will consider the differences between counselling and spiritual direction at the same time as providing tools for the beneficial integration of both disciplines. The module will help students articulate models of spiritual transformation and development. It is important to note that this module is not a training course either in spiritual direction or in counselling.

Literature and Spirituality

This module will give students the tools required to analyse modern English fiction and poetry in their relations to Christian Spirituality. It will encourage the skilful use of primary and secondary material in order to assess the spiritual character of the works of individual writers. Students will be enabled to demonstrate the relationship between Christian Spirituality and English literature.

Sexuality and Spirituality

This module will provide students with the methodological tools to engage with a study of sexuality and Spirituality. Students will be enabled to understand how the Christian tradition has engaged with sexuality and Spirituality and how that impacts on contemporary debates. Students will be encouraged to relate these insights to their own experience and to critically evaluate the current theological and spiritual concerns in matters of sexuality.

Art, Belief and Spirituality

This module will enable students to understand the relationship between Christian Spirituality and art. This relationship will be placed in historical, cultural and theological perspectives, and the students will be encouraged to develop their own aesthetic and spiritual awareness. The module will also enable students to appreciate the place of art in Christian worship and the life of the Church.

Co-validated Modules

Relocating Religion: Cultural and Spiritual Realignments (New for 2016/17)

From the MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture

In a so called ‘secular age’ has religion and more specifically Christian faith and belief simply disappeared from public view altogether? Do modern people no longer require the ‘sacred canopy’ of religion to feel at home in the world? Has the idea and practice of religion become so tarnished with notions of religious fundamentalism and extremism or institutional irrelevance and corruption that by and large, in Europe at least, most people leave it to a small minority of others to be religious on their behalf? Or is it the case that spirituality and religion have simply re-located elsewhere? Has popular culture become a more convenient and comfortable location for religion than our institutional churches? Do secular people now find religion in aesthetic experiences or in consumerism? Is it the new technologies of robotics, cybernetics and artificial intelligence where people locate religious motifs and future hopes? Or is secularism itself a by product of Christian freedom and responsibility in the world? In this new module we will examine these and a range of other questions as we seek to examine the equivocation and uncertainty that now surrounds the modern experience and practice of religion in the 21st century.

Mass Culture: Theological Engagement and Spiritual Practice

From the MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture

This module considers the phenomenon of mass consumer technological culture as the backdrop to Spirituality and ‘doing’ theology in our age. Students will explore and analyse powerful contemporary habits of leisure and lifestyle in relation to older classical ideas of leisure with its inherent relation to the dynamic of spiritual life and romanticism. The module will examine ways in which leisure and lifestyle activities take over and mimic religious modes of orchestrating emotion and producing identity, examining the writings of sociologists, social anthropologists, social critics and theologians that seek to address and interpret this situation. The module will trace the emergence of different forms of 4 interpreting the phenomenon of the modern and especially the different and diverse ways in which mass culture has been understood throughout the genesis and development of modern culture.

Liturgy and Spirituality

From the MA in Christian Liturgy

The module engages with the relationship between Spirituality and liturgy. Attention will be paid to complexity of the ways in which they relate, both conceptually and with reference to debates, such as the historic conflict between liturgy and popular piety. Students will have the opportunity to study specific examples of liturgical practice from a variety of Christian traditions, and in so doing develop their ability to interpret liturgical prayer as a form of Spirituality.