Programme specification - BA Theology

This programme specification relates to the academic year 2013/4.

Awarding institutionUniversity of Exeter
School(s)/Teaching institutionCollege of Humanities
Programme accredited/validated byNot applicable
Final award(s)BA (Hons)
Programme titleBA Theology
UCAS code (if relevant)V604
NQF level of final award(s)H:Honours
QAA subject benchmarking groupTheology and Religious Studies
Date of production/revision2006-10-02

Programme structures and requirements, levels, modules, credits and awards

University conventions apply the following principles for student choice within their programme of study: Students taking a 360-credit degree programme must take no more than 150 credits of level 1 modules and not less than 90 credits of level 3/4 modules. Students may select options, timetable permitting, in other Departments or Colleges, to a maximum of 90 credits for a Single Honours 360-credit programme. A module may be taken only if the necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, if the timetable allows, and if the module or an equivalent module has not been taken previously. Programmes, modules and other study components can be taken only with the approval of the appropriate Head of School. Modules are not all available every year; options are offered in any given year at the discretion of the department. All full time students are normally required to take modules totalling 120 credits at each stage of study, with one stage taking one academic year. Where core modules make up less than 120 credits at any stage, optional modules must be chosen to bring the total to 120 credits. Part-time students (who normally take a stage over two academic years) should negotiate with their departments the pattern of modules over the agreed timescale of their programme of study.


Students take all Theology core modules, together with a combination of Theology, Theology-related and other options. Modules worth up to a maximum of 90 credits in total may be chosen in Theology-related and other areas over Stages 1,2 and 3.


THE1051 Introduction to Theology (15 credits)
THE1052 Philosophical Questions about Religion (15 credits)
THE1054 The Gospels: Origins and Outlooks (15 credits)
THE1061 Faith of the Fathers (15 credits)
THE1073 The Creation of a Nation in the Hebrew Bible (15 credits)

Optional 15-credit modules, two of them language modules (THE1070 Introducing New Testament Greek and THE1072 Inducing Biblical Hebrew) are available in any given year. Students may take up to 30 credits outside the Department in any one Stage; no more than 90 credits over Stages 1, 2 and 3).

Stage 2

THE2125 Modern Theology (15 credits)
THE2150 The Divine World in the Hebrew Bible (15 credits)
THE2059 Christian Moral Theory and Ethics (15 credits)
THE2069 Introducting Paul (15 credits)

Stage 3:

THE3082 Dissertation.

A number of Theology option modules are available at Level 2 and Level 3. Theology-related and other options are available in other Departments and Colleges. Students may take up to 30 credits outside the Department in any one Stage; no more than 90 credits over Stages 1, 2, and 3.

Normally, students will take only Level 3 modules during Stage 3. A student may, however, take a Level 2 language module during Stage 3, as long as they gain at least 90 Level 3 credits in total.

A full list of modules at all levels is available online at

Assessment at Stage 1 is formative and does not contribute towards the overall mark for the degree programme, although an overall pass is necessary for progression to Stage 2. The overall mark for the degree is calculated from the marks for Stages 2 and 3.

Educational aims of the programme

The Department of Theology, by providing the BA in Theology, aims to enable students to explore

* the contexts, development and meanings of the texts of the Hewbrew Bible and the New Testament (with the option of studying the texts in the original languages);
* the whole history of Christian theological thought, including aspects of Christianity's relationship to other religions;
* the critical questions, philosophical, political,ethical and historical, raised in the modern and post-modern world about religion in general and the Christian religion specifically; and
* the critical questions, philosophical, political and ethical, raised by the Christian religion about the world.

The Department aims:
* to provide a supportive, friendly and enjoyable context for the exploration of this subject matter;
* to enable students in this supportive environment to face critical questions about their own beliefs and practices, and thebeliefs and practices present in the world around them;
* to fit students to be thoughtful and questioning members of society, ready to examine and where necessary challenge the discourses by which society runs;
* to introduce students to a variety of methods of study of this wide-ranging subject-matter, and so to foster mental agility and adaptability;
* to develop academic and personal skills that equip students for further study, employment, or further professional development.

The Department aims in this as in all its programmes
* to provide high quality teaching that is engaging, exciting and challenging, and that helps students to become active and independent learners in their own right;
* to ensure that this teaching is informed by the highest quality research in our disciplines, snf that students are introduced not just to the fruit of this research but to the processes by which it is pursued and tested.

Programme outcomes & teaching, learning and assessment methods

Subject specific skills:

Able to:

A1. demonstrate detailed and critical understanding of biblical texts, the contexts of their production and reception, and aspects of their ongoing interpretation;
A2. demonstrate detailed and critical understanding of a range of classic texts from the Christian theological tradition in their historical contexts, and of their importance for ongoing theological debate;
A3. demonstrate detailed and critical understanding of the main themes of Christian doctrine, of aspects of their history, and of current debates surrounding their meaning and implications;
A4. demonstrate detailed and critical understanding of a range of questions in philosophical theology, and of the current debates surrounding them;
A5. demonstrate detailed and critical understanding of a range of personal, ethical and political questions raised by Christian theology, and of contemporary debates surrounding them;

Teaching/learning methods and strategies

Core and option modules
Key subject knowledge and skills are provided first of all in core modules taught over the first two stages of the programme. Biblical studies (A1) are covered in THE1073 The Creation of a Nation in the Hebrew Bible, THE2150 The Divine World in the Hebrew Bible, THE1054 The Gospels: Origins and Outlooks and THE2069 Introduction to Paul; historical theology (A2) by THE1061 Faith of the Fathers, THE1060 Medieval and Reformation Theology, and THE2125 Modern Theology, systematic or doctrinal theology (including the personal, ethical and implications of such theology) (A3 and A5) by THE1051 Introduction to Theology, and philosophical theology (including ethics) (A4 and A5) by THE1052 Philosophical Questions about Religion and THE2059 Christian Moral Theory and Ethics. These core modules are supplemented by option modules, which pursue particular topics within these various broad subject areas in more depth, allowing students a degree of specialisation.

Lecture presentations are a key element of module teaching methods, and are used to provide information (contributing to A1-5, B6-14, and C16), and to model modes of argument and interpretation (contributing especially to B10 and B12). Lectures always include an element of interaction, whether that be simply an opportunity for questions, or more substantial elements such as 'buzz group' sessions, full class discussions, breaking down into small group conversations, and so on (C22, 23, and 24). The prevalence of such interactivity tends to increase over the three stages, as students increase in their ability and willingness to contribute publicly to discussion.

Seminar presentations are another key element of module teaching methods. During stage one, students will be required to prepare and deliver short seminar presentations according to clear and detailed guidelines, normally not summatively assessed. In stages two and three, seminar presentations are normally more substantial, and frequently summatively assessed (C16, 22-24). Some seminar presentations are prepared and delivered by groups rather than simply by individuals (C23). Seminar presentations are normally accompanied by written handouts (C22). Seminars regularly involve students in commentary upon specific primary texts (A1-2; B6-9, 11) and/or specific secondary texts (A1-5; B9, 10, 13).


Written coursework
As well as by seminar presentations, students are assessed by a variety of forms of written work (C16, 22), and in particular by essays of varying kinds and lengths. During stage one, students will begin with fairly short formatively assessed essays, and will move on from these to summatively assessed essays only once they have received feedback on them. Small group tutorials are often provided for students who are preparing essays for summative assessment.
Some essays involve students in detailed textual commentary on primary texts (A1-2; B6-9, 11; C18); most involve careful engagement with a range of secondary texts (A1-5; B9, 10, 13; C18), with students expected to note in particular the disagreements between various authors (C20). It is in their written work that students will be expected to demonstrate most clearly that they appreciate the complexity of their subject matter (A1-5; B6-8, 10-11, 13-14), that they are becoming proficient with the appropriate methods of study (A1-5; B10, 12), and that they are capable of building convincing arguments backed up by appropriate evidence (C16, 17).
Students at stage one will find that they are normally directed very precisely to (or provided with) the primary and secondary texts that they need; as the stages progress, they will find an increasing expectation that they explore bibliographies for themselves, find the most appropriate literature on them, and begin to develop the ability to locate additional material for themselves (B9, C18). This progression also includes the use of online materials, where students are given very careful guidelines on appropriate sources earlier on, and then helped to develop the judgment to make more independent use of online materials as the programme progresses (C19).
At stage one, students are provided with very clear and detailed guidelines on what is expected from them, and tend to be set pieces of written work that tie in very closely with material presented in lectures and seminars. As the stages progress, guidelines tend to become broader, and more space is left for students to pursue topics beyond the bounds set by lectures (A15). The dissertation module (THE3082) is the clearest example of this, and involves students negotiating a question with a supervisor and, with minimal guidance, producing an independent, creative and critical answer to that question (C15-18).

Reflection upon one's learning experience
In THE2059 Christian Moral Theory and Ethics, one of the core modules in which challenging questions of personal and ethical significance are raised with the most force, students are required to keep a learning journal in which they are encouraged to reflect critically upon their own learning experience (C21); in other modules lecturers provide more informal means by which students can discuss their reactions to and difficulties with the material they are studying, the methods by which it is approached, and the assumptions which they, their fellow students, and their teachers bring to the study.

Many modules are assessed in part by written examinations, which normally involve students either answering essay-style questions, or commenting on short extracts from primary texts, within a fixed time-limit. Examinations show how well students can recall material, arguments, and points of view, express these concisely and use them creatively in arguing for a particular case in answer to previously unknown questions (C16, 18, 22).

Core academic skills:

Able to:

B6. demonstrate comprehension of and intelligent engagement with the richness of at least one religious tradition in its varied and central forms;
B7. state clearly, discuss and demonstrate critical comprehension of some of the following: social, textual, intellectual, historical, theological, ritual, ethical, institutional or aesthetic expressions of the religion(s) studied;
B8. discuss and demonstrate where appropriate critical comprehension of the religion(s) classical sources and their subsequent interpretation in different historical periods and in different social or geographical settings;
B9. evaluate and critically analyze a diversity of primary and secondary sources, including materials from different disciplines;
B10. demonstrate comprehension of and critically analyse a range of themes, debates and methods of the discipline and where appropriate related disciplines (e.g., history, philosophy) and evaluate a range of critical scholarship associated with this discipline;
B11. demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the multi-faceted complexity of religions, for example in the relationship between specifically religious beliefs, texts, practices and institutions, and wider social and cultural structures, norms, aesthetics and aspirations;
B12. demonstrate intellectual flexibility through the practice of a variety of complementary methods of study: philosophical, historical, and systematic/dogmatic;
B13. demonstrate awareness of and critical assessment of aspects of religious contributions to debate in the public arena about values, truth, beauty, identity, health, peace and justice;
B14. demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of how personal and communal identities and motivations are shaped by religion, how this has both constructive and destructive effects, and how important such identities are;

The 'core academic skills' listed in section B are drawn directly from the QAA Subject Benchmarking Statement for Theology and Religious Studies (, with appropriate modifications.

Teaching/learning methods and strategies

See above


See above

Personal and key skills:

Able to:

C15. undertake independent work within broad guidelines;
C16. shape information independently into a coherent and creative account;
C17. demonstrate critical and creative thought;
C18. make critical and independent use of written sources;
C19. find, evaluate and use on-line materials;
C20. demonstrate sensitive and critical understanding of the differences between the practices and traditions of various groups;
C21. reflect critically on their own learning experience;
C22. communicate clearly in written and oral forms;
C23. participate appropriately in a learning group;
C24. discuss sensitive issues with appropriate generosity.
D Confirmation of conformity with the relevant subject benchmark statement, or rationale for non-conformity

Teaching/learning methods and strategies

See above


See above

Support for students and students' learning

At Exeter, the University Library maintains its principal collections in the main library buildings on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses, together with a number of specialist collections in certain Colleges. The total Library collection comprises over a million volumes and 3000 current periodical subscriptions. Information Technology (IT) Services provide a wide range of services throughout the Exeter campuses including open access computer rooms, some of which are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Additionally, some Colleges have their own dedicated facilities. Helpdesks are maintained on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses, while most study bedrooms in halls and flats are linked to the University's campus network.

On the Tremough campus in Cornwall, the Learning Resource Centre contains a library of 70,000 volumes and some specialist collections. IT Services provide a range of central services, including open and training clusters of PCs (available on a 24/7 basis) within the Centre, while some Colleges have additional dedicated facilities. Network access is available from all rooms in the hall of residence on site.

It is University policy that all Colleges should have in place a system of academic and personal tutors for their students. A University-wide statement on such provision is included in the University's TQA Manual.

Additionally, the following units at Exeter between them provide a wide range of student support services:

- Student Counselling Service
- Study Skills Service
- Student Advice Centre (Students Guild)
- Chaplaincy
- International Office - Study Abroad Office
- Student Health Centre
- Family Centre (Streatham campus)
- English and Foreign Language Centres
- AccessAbility

The University Careers Advisory service provides expert advice to all students to enable them to plan their futures, through guidance interviews, psychometric testing, employer presentations, skills events, practice job interviews and CV preparation.

On the Tremough campus, student services are provided by the Combined Services for the University and for Falmouth College of Arts (with which the University shares the campus).

All Colleges are required to possess Student/Staff Liaison Committees, which allow students to contribute directly to the enhancement of educational and other provision at discipline level.

In addition to the above the College provides the following:
- A personal tutor system;
- A Team Skills Development Programme;
- Student Handbooks and module guides (available on the College website);
- Access to teaching staff - times when staff are available are posted on office doors and contact email addresses provided in student handbooks;
- Student representation at Department meetings.

Admission criteria

Students do not need any qualifications in Religious Studies, and a Theology degree course suits people with a very wide range of academic backgrounds.

Our standard offer is in the range ABB-BBB for those taking A-levels - or an equivalent level of achievement for those taking other qualifications. We decide offers on an individual basis, and are prepared to make lower offers in many cases. We do not usually include General Studies A-level in our offers, but all other subjects are acceptable.

As well as seeking good quality A-Level applicants, we target non-standard entry (NSE) applicants with the potential to benefit fully from the programme. With mature-age students we look for recent educational attainment in any area, and/or relevant work experience.

Regulations of assessment and academic standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures. The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the external examiners appointed for each programme. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code for external examiners and include access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. Attendance at the Board of Examiners and the provision of an annual report are both required. Clear procedures are also in place for the monitoring of these annual reports at both School and University level. See the University's TQA Manual for details of these processes (

Indicators of quality and standards

The University and its constituent Colleges draw on a range of data in their regular review of the quality of provision. The annually produced Performance Indicator Dataset details admission, progression, completion and first career destination data, including comparisons over a five-year period.

The Department was last the subject of a QAA review in May 2001, where its provision was awarded 23 points (excellent). The review report can be read at

Methods for evaluating and improving quality standards

The University has procedures in place for the regular review of its educational provision, including the annual review of both modules and programmes which draw on feedback from such sources external examiner's reports, student evaluation, student achievement and progression data. In addition, subject areas are reviewed every three years through a subject and programme quality review scheme that includes external input. These procedures are recorded in codes of practice contained in the TQA manual.