University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Theology and Ethics

Postgraduate Course: Ecology, Ethics and Spirit (THET11011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryTo provide candidates with an interdisciplinary humanities focused understanding of environmental ethics and theology. Mobilising insights, perspectives and texts from anthropology, ecology, environmentalism, ecological economics, philosophy and theology the emphasis will be upon the contrasting ways in which human cultural practices frame human-nature interactions in premodernity, modernity and postmodernity.
Course description Academic Description:
The biosphere has evolved a level of biodiversity unprecedented in earth history in a period (the last eight thousand years) known as the Holocene in which humans evolved from hunter-gatherers to agrarians. Humans were therefore able to develop complex civilizations which have had a tendency to press ecological support systems to the point of collapse. The latest of these - industrial capitalism - is now a global civilization and is putting pressure on most earth systems to the extent that the evolving and reparative capacities of life on earth are at risk. The most obvious signs of this are declining biodiversity in forests, oceans, croplands and pastures, soil erosion, ground water depletion, ocean acidification, strengthening storms, enduring droughts and climate change. Protests at the ecological depredations of industrialism first emerged in the Romantic movement. Two hundred years later ecological philosophy and environmental ethics are recognized sub-disciplines in philosophy and theology. This course aims for an in-depth understanding of the aetiology of the environmental crisis and of responses to it in academia, civil society and political economy.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
In this course we will study the interaction of ecology, philosophy, culture and religion through the seminal essay on the chemicalization of the environment, an aetiological account of the ecological crisis by a moral theologian, an account of environmental ethics by its foremost advocate, a critique and revision of enlightenment and economistic rationalities by a feminist philosopher, and a narration of the rise of modern nature religions and environmental activism.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course is taught through private study of five set texts, and discussion of these on an online blog and a weekly one hour seminar discussion. The seminar is followed by a one hour interactive lecture introducing the following week's readings. Private reading and research guided by the extended bibliography provided for the composition and presentation of two essays, one of 2000 and one of 3000 words, is also essential to successful achievement of learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Ecology, Ethics and Religion (THET10021)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the historic and cultural roots of the ecological crisis and efforts to resolve it.
  2. Articulate and critically compare different philosophical and religious approaches to ecological ethics and the environmental crisis.
  3. Critically expound and compare set texts in scholarly writing exercises that demonstrate a capacity for independent learning and critical thought.
  4. Describe and evaluate the interaction of cultural or religious beliefs, rituals or spiritualities and human behaviour in relation to the environment.
  5. Narrate an overview of the developing scholarly interface between culture, ethics, religion and environmental values and behaviours.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Michael Northcott
Tel: (0131 6)50 8947
Course secretaryMs Roisin O'Fee
Tel: (0131 6)50 8921
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information