Interfaith Studies (MA)
The MA Interfaith Studies offers a chance for in-depth study of the relationships between faiths and religion in our contemporary world and how these are impacted by historical, philosophical, theological, and social trends. It offers a balance between detailed study of faiths themselves and broader study of the social aspect of religious belief.
The MA Interfaith Studies will provide you with a solid methodological foundation for your improving knowledge of interfaith matters, as well as offering modules looking at particular aspects of interfaith relation – such as focused on the inter-relationship of religions in China or on the long relationship between Judaism and Christianity.
As part of this, students will undertake compulsory modules dealing with Research Methods in Interfaith Studies, Hermeneutics and Interfaith Studies, as well as a student chosen Project in Interfaith Studies.
Students will then be able to select further modules that deepen their particular interests with particular provision for looking at aspects of religious interaction between two religious traditions or in particular geographic contexts.
As a final selection, students will undertake a Dissertation project, a research project on the related subject of the students choosing, which allows students to focus and apply the knowledge they have gained on a new area of research.
Research Methods in Interfaith Studies – In this module, students will be able to critically assess the main classical and contemporary methods and approaches in Interfaith Studies and to explore theories and debates about ‘dialogue’, ‘difference’, and ‘co-existence’.
Hermeneutics and Interfaith Studies – This module aims to develop a critical awareness of the interpretative methods and reading strategies that shape a range of hermeneutical approaches – philosophical and textual - to interfaith engagement.
Interfaith Project – This module provides students with an opportunity to apply theories and concepts developed in the taught modules by investigating in depth a topic of their choice within Interfaith Studies.
Christian-Muslim Relations: Texts, Past, & Present – Through taking this module, students will deepen their awareness of cross-cultural approaches to the inter-relationship of the Christian and Islamic traditions, and their shared historical and contemporary realities.
Jewish-Christian Relations: Encounters Past and Present – This module undertakes to show students the relationship between Jews and Christians in various historical, theological and social contexts and to allow students to engage critically with understandings of how Jews have been treated and portrayed in different historical periods.
Interfaith Relations in the Indian Context: Tradition, Tension, and Co-existence – This module adopts a geographical focus on India in order to allow for interfaith study of the scriptural roots, tradition and development, philosophical connections, and social and political concerns of the religious faiths present in contemporary India
Interfaith Relations in the Chinese Context: Tradition, the State, and Social Harmony – This module again adopts a geographical focus, this time on China, in order to explore the historical and contemporary religious landscape in China. The module allows students to focus on aspects of texts and scriptures, historical social and religious change, and contemporary interaction between religious faiths and the state.
Religious Experience Today – This module provides students with an in-depth understanding of religious experience from a number of perspectives, examining both the phenomenology of such experiences in the cultural and social context and explanations for them
Religion and the Environment – In this module students examine critically the ecological legacy of a variety of religious traditions and assess the extent to which ‘religion’ can be a useful resource for the formulation of a positive 21st century environmental ethic.
The Self: East and West - In this module, students explore and investigate the similarities and differences between four concepts of ‘self’ and how each concept describes the relationship between ‘self’ and ‘body’. The first two concepts are drawn from western philosophy while the second two concepts are drawn from Hinduism and Buddhism, focusing on the concept of ‘self’ that is found in Indian philosophy.
The MA Interfaith Studies offers an opportunity found almost nowhere else – to study not only the internal nature of religious faiths and beliefs, but also their interaction and relations with one another.
It is this interaction that has increasingly come to colour our contemporary world, with the increasing pluralisation of society forming an underlying trend to so many social, political, and philosophical dynamics that occupy our societies.
This course offers students the opportunity to explore this exciting milieu in a way that suits their interests, while also providing a solid methodological and theoretical background for their reflection. It’s blend of modules offers choices for students that allow for the connections between matters of religious faith and belief and social issues such as the environment, political stability, and inter-religious dialogue to become clear.
The course is assessed largely through written submission, in the forms of essays, portfolios, textual analyses, and structured writing. In addition, long form written pieces such as the Interfaith Project and Dissertation.
The programme will help students to develop skills that are valuable to a wide range of employers, such as the ability to: analyse complex information in a critical manner; present clear and coherent arguments; present complex information in a clear manner.
More particularly, the programme will attract students who are looking to take up future employment opportunities, or are already in employment, in areas or sectors where an understanding of interfaith issues will be of benefit. This may include voluntary workers, teachers and trainers, academics, community and government-based agencies and projects, intercultural, multi-faith networks dedicated to building community relations, reconciliation and reconstruction schemes with various global agencies and disaster relief bodies. It will also appeal to students who are looking towards a religious and/or devotional service, a life of public service, and various voluntary-based projects.